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Charity weans women off prostitution

MUTARE — For the past four years, Rosemary Nyambabvu had been surviving on prostitution following the death of her husband.

BY CLAYTON MASEKESA

The 35-year-old widow, who is now HIV-positive, said she had resorted to prostitution to enable her to support her four children and two relatives left under her custody.

“I was raped and assaulted several times and many customers did not want to pay for my services,” she told Standardcommunity recently.
Nyambabvu had no other skill to engage in any kind of gainful employment.

But her life has since changed after a local Christian organisation, the International Rescue Mission Ministry (IRMM), came to her aid.
She is one of the several women and girls in Sakubva high-density suburb in Mutare that are benefitting from two income-generating projects so that they quit prostitution.

The projects, funded by IRMM and International Development Aid, include sewing and poultry ventures in Sakubva and Dangamvura high-density suburbs.

“When I remember how I used to suffer, how my children used to sleep hungry and even failed to go to school because of lack of school fees, I cannot stop working hard,” said Nyambabvu.

“I can now pay school fees for my children after selling outfits that I am making at the sewing project. Before IRMM came to our help, I was a popular commercial sex worker, but now things have changed.”

Through the income from the sewing and poultry projects, Nyambabvu has managed to construct a two-roomed house.

Another former prostitute, Hilda Musengeyi said she was very glad to be part of the 15 beneficiaries of the Sakubva project, valued at about US$10 000.

“I am so glad that I am one of the women who is privileged to be here where we are learning how to make clothes for sale, now I feel like God has a purpose for even  poor people like me,” said Musengeyi.

“I am working towards helping my old mother and paying the school fees for my young brothers and sisters.”

In Dangamvura, the poultry project has helped 20 former hookers quit prostitution. The poultry project currently generates an estimated monthly profit of US$2 000.

The manure from the chickens is used in the members’ fields to boost yields.

George Bvute, IRMM projects manager for Zimbabwe, said the organisation was determined to empower the less-privileged people in society and restore hope to those who had lost it.

“Our vision is to be the leading Christian ministry sending out reliable missionary agents to most of Africa and the rest of the world by 2025,” said Bvute.

Theresa Mureza, another former prostitute said: “We can now see some new hope for our lives since some of us are doing better in our lives. We are now our own employers rather than selling our bodies for money. We are also being trained for free and we will also teach our fellow women for free.”

Jesca Mushambadzi, IRMM community health specialist in Zimbabwe, said both projects were benefitting not only the former prostitutes but also the community at large.

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