Shot in the Arm for Garden Stalwart

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Above: Jeritah Siziba and Yvonne Berkhout.

Bulawayo - As one walks into Jeritah Siziba’s home in Pumula South, what is striking is how a relatively small living room has been turned into a vibrant workshop where no less than four women are using their hands to create truly sublime artistic dresses, handbags, and bead work of different kinds which they sell to benefit their families.

Jerita, who is a tailor by trade, says the greatest teacher and inspiration behind her work, which has seen her receive a lot of orders from her community and beyond, is her mother who, despite her very advanced age, still manages to work”.

“I did not attend any school to be able to sew but it is that woman who taught me everything” says Jeritah as she points at her mother who responds with a warm smile.

Just a stone’s throw away from their home is the ZDDT sponsored Kirimuva garden and Jerita, as the committee secretary, has also been instrumental in making sure that the garden is functional and is able to supplement the nutrition of many families, while fostering social cohesion and unity in the community.

She is the original “maSiziba” they say. All products produced at the ZDDT supported community gardens are sold under the registered brand name, MaSiziba, at supermarkets, and this title, bestowed on her by her fellow mates at the garden, is testament to the integral part she has played in the ZDDT community garden initiative.

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A few weeks ago, Jeritah fell and broke her prescription glasses while attending a funeral in the neighbourhood, an occurrence which, according to her, was devastating as it threatened to bring all of her work to a grinding halt.

“My vision is very blurred without glasses and, after they broke, it became a struggle for me to work on my sewing machine which is a source of income. This also affected my gardening but not as much because, unlike gardening, sewing requires a lot of hand to eye coordination.”

Jeritah says, without the income from her work, she would be unable to continue paying off the debt of her orphaned grandson who recently graduated from a teacher’s college, but is failing to get his certificate due to the debt. Her family also depends on her, including another orphaned grandchild who is at secondary school.

Upon learning of Jeritah’s predicament, ZDDT horticultural consultant, Yvonne Berkhout, took it upon herself to try and help Jeritah secure brand new prescription glasses which are beyond the financial reach of many in this impoverished nation and embattled economy.

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“Sometimes sharing one’s problems is helpful. When I told Yvonne about my situation, she quickly linked me with the Bulawayo Help Network (BHN) who asked me to come and they had my eyes checked.”

When receiving the glasses at the garden, Jeritah’s joy was evident for all and sundry including her eldest grandson who was helping with watering her vegetable beds.

“I am grateful to (BHN) and all who were involved in this great act of kindness shown to me” said Jeritah who was almost in tears.