Together with the coalition’s committee, I am responsible for the well-being of our 20 members. They report their problems to me. It is a big responsibility, and it’s not always easy, but I don’t have a choice. They elected me because they saw something in me. So I will continue to do my job!
Here at the Women’s Center, we have a big vegetable garden. We take some vegetables home, but also sell them. Some we use to make spicy sauce for selling. We make and sell household products like floor polish, fabric softener and bleach. We also sew ‘wonderbags’ (insulation bags for cooking). First, you bring your water to boil. Then you add rice, beans or whatever you want to cook. You put this hot pot inside the wonderbag, close it, and leave it for some hours. We also have a child care service and we support ten orphanages in the area: we donate food, soap and part of our profits. One thing we lobbied for at the ministry of health, was to have a mobile clinic come by once a month! And last but not least, we organize all kinds of counseling workshops and sessions. COSPE trained three of our women to become counselors on physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Our counselors provide moral support on these topics.
Before the programme I had a hard life. It was difficult raising my children as a widow. Getting enough money was always stressful. Now I can provide for my family through selling products at the Women’s Center. I am financially independent! Just coming here and being together feels good, it always puts a smile on my face. The Women’s Center is a safe space for us to speak about everything and anything. Before, we used to sit underneath that tree, but we were afraid that people would overhear us talking about our problems.
The workshop on women’s rights has helped me a lot. I know my rights now and I share my knowledge with other women. Helping them feels good and gives me peace of mind. I can see how they are becoming more confident knowing their rights. There is less abuse because the men are afraid of repercussions. We report abuse to the SWAGAA (Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse, red.). Their expert counselors help us to file a report to the police. Sometimes the police would take these charges too lightly, but now they are also getting afraid of SWAGAA!