My name is Happiness. I am the Chairperson of the CAMFED Association of women leaders educated with CAMFED support for Lupane District in the Matabeleland North Province of Zimbabwe and a CAMFED Learner Guide.
Life was very difficult for me growing up. I lived with my mother and my stepfather, as I lost my dad when I was in Grade 3. My parents weren’t able to buy me essentials for school like books and pens, and I did not feel like I could ask anyone for help. At school I had low self-esteem, lacking even the confidence to join study groups with my peers.
I first heard about CAMFED when they set up a low-cost boarding facility at my school. I was selected for support and was able to stay at the boarding house, with CAMFED paying for my school uniform, fees, menstrual items, and boarding costs. From that day, I felt empowered!
When I finished school, I noticed that the demand in my community for technology-related services — such as mobile banking, internet, and phone services — was very high. Not one to miss a good opportunity, I knew that I could fill the gap!
Through CAMFED – and my volunteer service as a Learner Guide delivering life and learning skills to girls at my local school – I was able to access a small business loan, which I used to start my enterprise specializing in mobile phones, repairs and accessories. Customers come with their broken phones to me and with love, I fix them. I was born with a love for fixing things and I feel lucky to be living in this era of technology!
I’ve seen a real shift in the attitudes of men in my community now that I have started my mobile phone business. Men prefer to bring their gadgets to me to fix instead of my male competitors. That alone is a good sign — they now trust a woman to do a man’s job better! My business is a major source of our household income and my husband is very supportive.
I recently received a loan from CAMFED to grow my business and diversify into solar power and batteries. This could make a real difference in rural communities like mine, where electricity is scarce and too expensive for most families. Already I have CAMFED Association members coming to me to ask if I can install solar panels, so I know the demand is high. I am optimistic about this venture and have already secured a workshop!
I’m encouraging other young women in my community to consider Information Technology as a career and learn skills in that area. Young girls always get inspired when I tell them my story, so I ask them to come to the shop and see what I do. My aim this year is to give three young women grants to start their own businesses, with me as their mentor until they are able to stand on their own. I want to help people in my community improve their lives through technology.
In the future I want to see ten branches of my business flourishing all over the country! I will employ other CAMFED Association members, as many as I can.
Using the profits from my business I support four children in my community with school fees, stationery, and menstrual items. I don’t want them to lack the same items I did at school, and I want to give as many books as possible to children in need. I also contribute to the CAMFED Association fund in my district, where we young women pool our own resources to support more vulnerable children.
As a mother of three boys, I want to nurture them to be responsible young men. My second-born is technically-minded and loves copying what I do. I will support each of them to pursue their dreams.
But the most important thing above all is that I am a CAMFED Association member. My sisters are my source of strength — their support makes failing impossible.
*Happiness’ education and training was made possible through funding from the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) under the Girls’ Education Challenge – Transitions.
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Meet Enelesi, a CAMFED Association member from Mwanza District in Malawi. She was first person in her family to go to secondary school, and today with the support of CAMFED, she is a Geologist at Malawi University of Science and Technology.
February 11th is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day for celebrating our sisters — young women from rural African communities who have overcome the odds not only to succeed in education, but to blaze a trail in medicine, science, technology and more. You can meet a few of them today!
Meet Ottilia, a CAMFED Association member and Learner Guide in rural Zimbabwe. Ottilia trained as a nurse aide in 2019 and volunteers at her local health clinic. She enjoys working in her local community and is hoping to train and qualify as a nurse in the future.