A PHENOMENAL woman, Philisiwe Nzama (56), is an inspiration to others, despite the fact that she did not finish school.
She has however, worked her way to the top by being independent and establishing a NGO for widows called Bongumusa Widows Forum.
“I’m originally from Embo near Hillcrest. I was raised by my stepdad who loved us dearly, however, I had to drop out of school in Standard 5 [Grade 7] due to financial constraints.
“After leaving school the only job I could find was being a nanny. In 1985 I got another job at a poultry farm called Spring Valley Farm in Assegai and I worked there for 10 years as a cleaner and a cook. My bosses trusted me in such a way that when they went on holidays they would leave me to manage the farm. I was also trained in everything pertaining to poultry.
“I left my job in 1995 and completed a child-minder course. I then worked at a few places taking care of children. In 2002 my husband told me to quit my job and help him build up a family business in Pinetown.
“Sadly, that year my husband [died] in a car accident and things turned bad for me and my children. It was hard, I struggled with everything from finances to coping with chores at home and my son had to leave his job to help me with the business.”
Being a religious woman though, Nzama spoke to one of her bishops at Christian Fellowship Church.
“I was in dire need of help and I asked Bishop MJ Ncube what I should do with my life. He told to do research in the community and find out what problems the community members go through.”
Nzama then found out that a group of young boys, aged nine, were turning to a life of crime. They would break into houses and steal food.
“When I sat with the boys I found that most of their fathers were dead and they were left with unemployed mothers, and that’s when I realised that they were forced to steal to feed their families. I then started a soup kitchen in 2008.”
She said the soup kitchen did not solve the problem, because they would have their soup for lunch, but go to bed hungry, and she then realised that something had to be done to change the situation.
“I started an NGO for widows because most of their husbands had left them.
“The organisation is not only for widows, it is also for single parents. We sew, do gardening and sell chickens to raise funds. I have 35 widowers who come from KwaDabeka, Embo and KwaNyuswa. We also have other widow organisations from all over KZN. Members get food twice a month and we meet every Wednesday to conduct prayers.
“My vision is for this organisation to grow and see every widow being able to support herself by opening small businesses.”
For information about the forum, contact 079 575 6504.