Meandering through the different wards in Shurugwi district, 32 km (21 miles) to the South of Gweru, one cannot help but notice the drying crops, which have borne the brunt of hot weather patterns being experienced in some parts of the country.
Shurugwi, which is in natural region four, is characterised by poor rains and is perennially prone to droughts resulting in most people in the area being hinged to the poverty trap as their livelihoods are not sustainable.
The situation is however, about to change, with gratitude to a local organisation Hand in Hand Zimbabwe, which has trained and equipped approximately 11 percent of the people in the district with entrepreneurial skills that will potentially shift their focus from surviving on agriculture.
This intervention has come through in a bid to improve the lives of vulnerable people in the district and has transformed people into successful entrepreneurs.
Through its Jobs Creation Programme, Hand in Hand Zimbabwe has taught people in the rural community, modern ways of saving money and starting successful enterprises.
In an interview Shurugwi Agritex Supervisor David Barnabas, said although the region is clearly heading for a major drought due to the wilting of crops, most villagers will be sustained by business skills they have received from the organisation.
“The situation is bad, there is going to be a serious drought here, I foresee a drought as crops have dried up.
However, I commend Hand in Hand Zimbabwe for the work that they are doing as villagers here can now generate their own income and do not solely depend on agricultural produce,” he said.
Barnabas applauded Hand in Hand for the business trainings and mentoring the organisation conducted, adding that these will eliminate donor syndrome and will enable villagers to be self-dependent.
Ward 24 Shurugwi Councillor Norman Sibindi encouraged more villagers to join Hand in Hand programmes, which empower people to be self-sufficient and self-reliant, especially during drought periods.
“We want to see people who are doing well and have something to live for as things are now hard in the nation.
“We want to see women and youths in this village who do not depend on men,” he said.
The Hand in Hand, Jobs Creation Program targets at least 80% women in support of Millennium Development Goal 3, which aims at promote gender equality and empower women.
Shurugwi Ministry of Youth Entrepreneurship and skills trainings Supervisor Elijah Mutero said Hand in Hand has contributed 20 percent of youth employment since 2015 and improved livelihoods of many.
“Nutritional value in the district has improved due to the work Hand in Hand is doing. The organisation is sustaining life through various projects and we hope that in a few years’ time our district would be free from poverty.
“At the moment we are witnessing a significant reduction in delinquencies as most young people are kept busy and are eking out a decent living.”
Mutero added that the projects have helped in shifting the attention of youths from taking drugs, gambling and other toxic behaviour.
Hand in Hand in Zimbabwe Chief Executive officer Felix Tete said the organisation will continue training and supporting poor and marginalised people in rural Zimbabwe to create better livelihoods.
Graceful Shumba a villager who benefited from Hand in Hand said the organisation has indeed empowered many entrepreneurs in Shurugwi through trainings.
“In 2013 I was known as the feeble-looking tailor who sat behind a shop at Chachacha doing her daily sewing routine. However, six years later I’m now a proud owner of a vibrant shop – the one I used to sit behind.
“Like many women here in Shurugwi, I worked hard to make ends meet in the drought and hunger prone district, but without the right knowledge and skills, it was an uphill task.
“As fate would have it, my life dramatically changed when I met Hand in Hand Zimbabwe in 2015 the organisation and received business development and financial literacy training ,” she said.
Hand in Hand Zimbabwe is a non-Profit organization that helps resource limited and marginalized people in rural communities, particularly women, to create better livelihoods for themselves and their families through its flagship series, the Jobs Creation Programme (JCP) which aims at alleviating poverty through jobs creation.
JCP also encompasses a self-help approach that is premised on a four pillar development model involving social mobilization into self-help groups (SHGs), training in entrepreneurship and economic development, facilitating access to microloans and facilitating market linkages and value addition.
Apart from the Jobs Creation Programme approach, the organisation has over the years implemented the Motivated and Entrepreneurial Youth (MEY) Project, Community Upliftment Project (CUP), Green Enterprises Project (GEP) and Jobs for Zimbabwe.
The organisation was registered as a non-profit organisation in Zimbabwe in July 2015 and is presently supporting communities in seven districts namely Bulilima, Chikomba, Chirumanzu, Gwanda, Lupane, Nkayi and Shurugwi.