Vicoba group and girls brigade

By Wamuwi Namatama, United Church of Zambia, Zambia, 2010- 2011 Diploma Course

I’m a change agent working in the United Church of Zambia (UCZ), a gender activist, and an advocate against stigma for people living with HIV and AIDS/GBV. Our organisation is best known for the strong partnership it has with the Government in supplementing government efforts through the learning and health institutions, as well as looking after the Aged and the poor through social ministry.

The TFT Diploma training has been both an eye opener and a journey of self-discovery. When I finished my TFT studies, I was rejuvenated with new skills to use in my work. Freire’s teachings influenced my character, my resilience and the dynamics of what I was doing. Popular Education has been at the heart of deep transformation and conscientization to me. Now I like ‘to start with the end in mind’. From the fruits of the many projects I carried out, the UCZ appointed me to be a chaplain in one of the girl’s schools in the Northern part of the country. We offer counselling and teach them about responsible citizenship and working with the local community.

In one year I managed to organise local women and we formed a Vicoba group, a Community Banking project. The group grew up to 30 members and I had to start another one due to the increased number of people interested. ¾ of the members have started small businesses. More people are now able to buy their own vegetables instead of asking others for food. We also started a Vicoba group with the teachers at the school.

In the UCZ we have a group called ‘Girls’ Brigade of Zambia’ which includes girls from different denominations, organisations and different corners of the country. I have managed to open a company of girl’s brigade at our school and, on 30th June 2019, we had an official opening of the company. In this group, girls learn relevant skills for their development such as physical exercise, spiritual growth and entrepreneurship, to just mention a few. In the school context, I also managed to bring teachers together as there was a gap between staff members and the school administration. With knowledge that I gained at TFT, I engaged them in a process of understanding the importance of the idea that ‘Transformation starts with the Self’ and gradually takes place in wider spaces in society. That had a positive outcome in the group and I shall continue to preach the message of transformation until transformation becomes our motto.