CAMFED Association member and law graduate, Zimbabwe
My name is Sibusiso, I am a member of the CAMFED Association – the network of women leaders educated with CAMFED support – and a law graduate, having completed my Laws Honors Degree (LLBS) at the University of Zimbabwe.
I faced many barriers to education growing up as an orphan in the rural Kwekwe District of Zimbabwe. After we sadly lost our mom when I was in Grade 3 (aged eight), my two brothers and I grew up under the guardianship of my maternal uncle and aunt, who were smallholder farmers.
With sponsorship from the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), I completed my primary education and managed to make it to Form 1 (first year) at high school, where I was supported with half the school fees by the resident Catholic priest at the school.
However, my uncle and aunt struggled to pay the other half of the fees as they needed to support their own children through school, while they relied heavily on the small profits from their farming operations to take care of the family.
It was at this moment that CAMFED visited our school to interview me and other disadvantaged girl students. From then on, I received support with school fees, uniforms, stationery and menstrual products from CAMFED.
My dream was to become a lawyer. I was inspired by a woman called J. Masango, who came to my school in Form 4 (final year of high school) during career guidance. She owned a law firm and told me that when you become a lawyer, you will always find something to do. Being an orphan, I felt I had a lot to do. I wanted to help support the relatives who had taken care of me growing up.
Whilst I went on to also pass my end of high school examinations with flying colors, my journey through university was not easy. I became pregnant soon after completing my examinations. This moment of desperation forced me to get married and I almost quit my further studies. However, through the support of CAMFED Community Development Committee members and employees at the Kwekwe office, I found the courage to continue with my studies.
As soon as I started at university I was motivated to give back. I offered free legal services at the University of Zimbabwe Access to Justice Centre and conducted community outreach with other students to make people aware of their legal rights. As a team we focused on children and women’s rights as they are the most vulnerable in society.
I also joined the committee for my halls of residence and acted as Chairperson. In this position, I was vested with powers to identify all students in my halls who were in need of support. With funds raised through the tuck shop by the hall committee, we could help those students in need.
I also proposed several children’s home visits – all of which were a success. We donated menstrual products, groceries, stationery and clothes, most of which were collected through fundraising activities. For example, we sold ice cream and organized a day where we as the hall committee went around the hostel to collect second-hand clothing donations from residents.
These philanthropic activities were largely inspired by the lessons I learned from the CAMFED Association.
With courage and determination, I was able to complete my tertiary education, whilst simultaneously raising my child, and I am now a proud holder of an LLBS Honors degree and currently doing an internship at a law firm in Kwekwe.
As I reflect on my education journey, I am grateful for CAMFED’s support and to the CAMFED Association for the philanthropic spirit it instilled in me.