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little light, lighting big torches and burning brightest

In my early years I didn’t question anything. I was told to behave and act like a girl and soon began to sense that being a girl was burdensome. When I started menstruating I understood the burdens of womanhood. No one prepared me for the experience and for months I used tissues. I was scared and ashamed. I wanted to talk. My confidence dwindled. No one was there to discuss my fears or answer my questions. I stopped paying attention in class and missed school. I became timid. I was dirty and disgusting just as a teacher had once said all girls and women are.

From this experience my vision was born. My vision is to empower girls about their sexual and reproductive health and teach them to speak out about their lives. Girls should be empowered from an early stage to understand their worth instead of trying to change their mind sets when they are adults. I teach girls who are already afraid to speak. Young girls are often left out but they are at the grassroots of becoming women and are future leaders. I want to roll out a programme where I source sanitary wear and distribute among needy children especially in the rural areas whilst building awareness among the community and educating girls about growing up and responsibility. Many families live under one dollar per day, sanitary wear is an unaffordable luxury. I want to advocate for access to free sanitary wear as a basic need to improve and protect girls’ reproductive health and teach them about hygiene, using sanitary wear and sex. My goal is for teenage pregnancies to reduce, groom leaders, and see many girls retained in school.

Girls no longer have anyone to talk to: parents are busy. Other girls are heading families and are the parents. During my empowerment lessons I have discovered that many girls live on misconceptions. No one sits down with them to talk and this necessitates a program where girls have someone to talk to not only about menstruation but about being a woman. I want to offer support through discussion groups. I will use this platform to have counseling sessions on all aspects of their lives and empower them to find lasting solutions to their problems. The program will be built with girls as the pillar through their participation. By sharing their lives with everyone they save another’s life and change their future. My vision is to see girls who represent a generation that says no more to silence and abuse and yes to equality. A woman’s world is one where fear is the root word: fear of rape, men, political violence, domestic violence, and speaking out. The only place that is presumed safe is in being silent but once girls are empowered whilst young they can speak out and challenge the culture that has perpetuated this fear. They will not be afraid of being heard and girls empowered will groom girls who speak out fearlessly and unapologetically to break the silence that has adorned Zimbabwean and African women for generations, to help girls form a life line for each other, draw from each other’s strength and drink from the well of sharing and kill the culture of fear and swim in the pool of unity.

World pulse has given me a chance to speak out. VOF will give me a chance to reach out and share with the world the stories of Zimbabwean women and girls rising above inequalities to create a better world. The chance to be mentored and share my vision and see it becoming a reality will be a dream come true. I want to use my education to help empower girls and women who are not as privileged . I will enhance my writing skills and document girls and women’s experiences as the power of the future. Words are powerful; the stories of grassroots women are precious and need to be documented. Their stories, their voices and our destiny are intertwined.
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest and act to create change.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
Learn more »

Comments

Sharontina's picture

Yes, there will never be a

Yes, there will never be a time you fail to protest. You are already into action to create that change in your community.Good sharing.

love

Merlin Sharontina

pelamutunzi's picture

hi

hi sharontina thanx for reading. i feel that my voice counts and i will work to see my vision becoming a reality. sorry for the late response my internet connection was bad for the past fortnight.

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

Debra K Adams MA's picture

interesting visual

your little light IS burning brightly and lighting the way for yourself and your countrywomen! Your voice is important and please keep going forward, lighting the way! Please stay in touch, I have much to learn from you and your experiences

"Be the change you want in the world." Gandhi

Debra K. Adams, MA
See my vizify bio! https://www.vizify.com/debra-k-adams-ma-pdv-cws
Survivors In Service: Self Empowerment Strategies (SiSSeS)
Consultant/Speaker/Author & Owner/Founder

pelamutunzi's picture

hello

hello sorry for late response had challenges accessing the internet. thank you for your encouragement. i will keep on going and together we will be the change we want to see in the world. will keep sharing

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

libudsuroy's picture

Intertwining stories, voices,

Intertwining stories, voices, destinies -- thank you so much for sharing this truth! Best wishes for more stories of hope and courage from Zimbabwe.

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

pelamutunzi's picture

thank you

thank you for your belief and encouragement. im glad i have this awesome worldpulse family. will keep sharing
regards
pelagia

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

My dear sister thank you for posting this great vision of yours. Many things that affect women and we are too busy to deal with them. for sure we need to be there for girls when they are maturing and the Zimbabwean girls are lucky to have you with them in this struggle. Continue with the struggle. Thank you for sharing.

Mrs. Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Head of Legal and Advocacy
Centre for Batwa Minorities
a.kiddu@gmail.com
cfmlegal@gmail.com
Skype: mrs_muhanguzi

pelamutunzi's picture

hello anita

its always a pleasure to read your comments. i am definitely continuing with the struggle with your support
regards
pelagia

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

wizamamat's picture

Silence no more

Dear Pela
Thank you for this powerful write up, not only have you shown your passion for empowering African women, you have also hinted at how you believe the mentorship program can aid in achieving your dreams. I am so impressed by your passion for girls in ZImbabwe. Reading your entry reminded me of my late grandmother, she was there for me when I started menstruating, she provided instruction. One thing she said that always makes me laugh till today is that once a woman starts her period she must not touch a man, if you touch a man you will end up knocked up. Of course, she said this out of love and because she wanted to protect me. I believe, like you do, that girls need proper education on this important subject.
I hope our dream comes true. We women refuse to be silent.

pelamutunzi's picture

love this

i really enjoyed your sharing. to know that your grandmother shared with you made me happy. women can prosper when they stand together and through generations of knowledge we can learn and stand up stronger. some girls do not even know what is happening and one came to me saying she had been hurt and was bleeding. imagine the trauma she was going through. also by talking to them tthey have stories to tell and experiences which if documeneted will help future generations and policy makers.
i refuse to be silent and thank you for your belief. hopefully together we will make the world better for just one girl and god willing even more. to day i shared your grandmother's story in a discussion with my students and many didnt know the implications of playing with boys when menstruating. so thank you.
regards
pelagia

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

CourtneyPaige's picture

Your Vision

Dear Pela,

Thank you for sharing this powerfully written vision. I appreciate very much how the post has a nice balance of discussing your broader vision for women and also specific goals within that vision, such as distributing sanitary supplies within your community. I also enjoyed how you draw the link between women's natural sexual and reproductive processes and our treatment - considering us dirty, the unawareness regarding the body, education, etc. I think that participating in an online community like World Pulse can very much help to get your message out and we are all here to support you!

Thanks again for sharing,

Courtney

pelamutunzi's picture

thank you

your post has reenergized me. to see that someone understands my feeling and the way women are viewed and how this has an impact on their life as a whole is encouraging. some women here are abused on the basis of menstruation. man cheat and blame it on mensrtuation i.e i could not have sex because you are on so i found it elsewhere hence many women abuse family planning tablets so they dont menstruate. i also discovered that when women dont have money for sanitary wear they can go for a year without drinking the tablets correctly and will not menstruate for the whole year. education is needed and is vital in zimbabwe.
thanks for reading and your support
regards
pelagia

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

You are an incredible writer. When I read your work I want to stand up and cheer...loudly! Can you hear me? You work magic with words. As you so wisely write, "words are powerful; the stories of grassroots women are precious and need to be documented." Yes! And you are just the writer to accomplish that! Keep it up. I want to hear much more from you. The world needs to hear much more from you!

Your article reminded me of one posted in the girls' access to education campaign. Grace Ikirimat is a former VOF correspondent in Uganda. She posted a powerful article called "Moon Days in Adolescent Girls: Confronting a Natural Course." She also addreesses the need for options in accessable and affordable sanitary supplies. An interesting dialog developed in the comments she received on her article which I think would interest you. It seems that many women in the World Pulse community have concerns about this issue. Perhaps you could all band together and initiate a discussion group to explore alternatives? See: http://worldpulse.com/node/69052

pelamutunzi's picture

am honoured

i m happy that you are seeing what i see and that these words have connected us and see everything from the same viewpoint. thank you for pointing out grace atricle i have connected with her and hopefully we can share ideas and experiences. i feel lucky to have found this platform and now working to see if we can have a group to discuss this issue and share experiences.
im also an avid reader and would be interested to know what you read. knowledge is so enlightening that when i read i want to read more and know more.
thank you , thank you once again im a teacher and therefore honored to be getting complements from you.
regards
pelagia

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

ikirimat's picture

Hello Pelagia, I am glad you

Hello Pelagia,

I am glad you are here to join me and others to voice the concern on management of menstruation and its devastating effects on a girls' esteem and education. Thank you Potter for connecting us. I want to agree with you that we need a platform even within pulse wire to continue this discussion and see how we can all practically contribute to addressing this cause. Lets keep in touch. I have asked for you to join my community on pulse wire, just accept it and we will get started.
Thank again

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


pelamutunzi's picture

thank you

thank you i have done that. want to get started

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

Lea's picture

Dear Pelagia, What a

Dear Pelagia,

What a wonderful piece! I agree with Potter that you are a wonderful and powerful writer. Your passion and dedication to empowering women and girls literally drip from every word. It's heartwarming to read about your goals to educate young women and girls about menstruation, sex, and their reproductive rights and to encourage discussion groups which allow girls to speak out and share their dreams and amibitions with each other.
I agree that a change definitely needs to be made in order for girls and women to cease to believe that menstruating equates to being dirty. We should never feel that this is a burden, nor be ashamed of having a monthly flow.
You're truly making a difference by distributing sanitary tissues and giving a voice to many Zimbabwean women on WorldPulse.
I fully support you and if you need any assistance with setting up the discussion group or sharing ideas, don't hesitate to contact me!
Keep up the good work!
Lea

rozjean's picture

Dear Pelagia, I, too,

Dear Pelagia,
I, too, remember how bewieldered and uneasy I was the day I "became a woman" so many years ago. I wish you the best in mentoring young woman to understand their bodies and the power they have to become leaders. Your task is large but oh so important!
Warm wishes,
rozjean

pelamutunzi's picture

thank you

thank you for reading. becoming a woman is a burden for many girls financially and economically. its time girls learn about it and accept it with pride so that no one can put them down becoz of it

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

cassie_levy's picture

Great work! Your words are

Great work! Your words are inspiring. I'm so glad to see World Pulse has such a positive affect on you. Keep up the good work!

pelamutunzi's picture

thank you cassie

thank you for the encouragement hope for more positive energy from worldpulse

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

pelamutunzi's picture

thank you

indeed the platform gives us a renewed outlook and passion to express ourselves and speak for all those who cant speak for themselves.
regards
pela

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

LeanaM's picture

Connections

Dear Pelagia,

Great post! I wanted to connect you with an organization (now on World Pulse!) that is doing something quite similar to what you are proposing. Perhaps you can think about doing something jointly!

http://worldpulse.com/user/18549

I hope wonderful things can blossom :-)

pelamutunzi's picture

a big help

thank you leanaM for letting me know about this organization. i have send a message to link up and discuss further. thanks again for the support
regards
pelagia

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

Y's picture

Your words are some of the

Your words are some of the most powerful I've read. The fear of females becoming women must be reduced in women and men. It must been faced as couples and families, but we have listened to males who have passed on their fears for far too long. Many religions perpetuate the ignorance.

I spoke openly about sexuality and family responsibility to my children and have lost many friends because of this. They say it is a perversion. And this is in the twenty-first century United States of America!

May our unity provide the strength we need.

Blessings to you.
Yvette

Y

Betsy Teutsch's picture

Menstrual management ideas

I am writing a book about tools for women to work their way out of extreme poverty. Have a look at the approaches I've found to menstrual management - I am rooting for all of them! Maybe one of them will be possible for you to promote in Zimbabwe! You sound like the person to get something going for all the girls for whom it would make an enormous difference!
I am still working on this piece, which will eventually go in the book:
http://www.womensglobaltoolkit.com/2013/06/picture-of-week-sanitary-pads...

Best, Betsy Teutsch, Philadelphia, PA

Betsy Teutsch - 100 Under $100
www.womensglobaltoolkit.com

pelamutunzi's picture

thank you

thank you fo the link. i am going through it and will communicate further. we definitely need to empower women and menstrual management is a key start

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

Lylinaguas's picture

vision of empowerment

You have articulated quite well your vision of how you want to empower women and the obstacles that contribute to the difficulties of achieving empowerment for women. But with your experience in developmental studies and your determination to do something about it, your vision is not far from becoming a reality. Keep at it and you will be able to reach your goals.

Lylin

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