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University dropout ploughs back to community

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Dropping out of university would have been depressing enough to knock Respect Masiyiwa out of the race to succeed in life, but he refused to succumb.

Report by Tawanda Marwizi, Own Correspondent

Instead, that inspired him to look out for a need and, subsequently, meet it.

He saw that need back in his rural community in Chiweshe, where he is now imparting encyclopedic knowledge of agriculture.

Being a university dropout proved an inspiration to Masiyiwa to provide farming knowledge to his community in Chiweshe. Masiyiwa was a University of Zimbabwe student, but dropped out in 2009 following the death of his parents. He could not afford the fees.

Convinced, however, that whatever knowledge he had accrued while still at university could be put to good use in his community, he teamed up with colleagues and established a group called Youth Initiative Against Marginalisation. Their thrust was to educate youths about agricultural production.

“The idea came after the experience working in a farm for a long time and that’s why I have realised we can do something to uplift our society,” said Masiyiwa.

He believed that despite widespread unemployment, there was need for young people to be engaged in productive work so that they were not tempted to engage in social vices.

“This organisation was targeting unemployed youths and we are happy that the response we are getting now is bigger,” he said.

They have been visiting schools and villages educating  people on mushroom cultivation and how to use old bags to grow potatoes and horticulture.

“We have been moving from one point to another and so far, we have been to Murehwa, Mazowe and Rushinga, teaching people different skills of cultivation,” he said.

Masiyiwa said he was happy that a number of groups have been formed after each tour and there has been progress in various projects.
“After we went to Rushinga, about six groups  were formed from workshops and demonstrations.

“We have been going back to see how they are progressing,”  he said. However, the number of training workshops has been limited because they do not have adequate financial resources.

“We wanted to take the training workshops all over the country, but our finances are limited,” Masiyiwa said. Although they have a mushroom project in Chiweshe, the profits accruing from the project are not enough to sustain an expansion programme.

“Our mushroom project in Chiweshe is doing well, but then the money we are getting from it will not be able to sustain us on a national tour to educate people about these projects,” he said.

“Some people are trying to politicise the group yet we are apolitical.  We will never be political at all.”

To date, they have conducted 278 workshops since the organisation was formed and their aim is to  complete  1 000. The group has been able to help other youths to form a young people’s co-operative. Young people are now able to pay school fees unaided.

“We are happy that we got the education from the group.

“We are a group of children paying fees for ourselves now,” said Beven Murongawomba, a student at Mvurwi Secondary School.

Masiyiwa said they were planning to donate part of their profits to the poor and the elderly in the community.

“Although we are trying to get enough equipment for the project, we have also targeted orphans and old people in the community and we will give them assistance,” he said.

“If we teach the youths to work for themselves, we will help create a crime-free society because every one will be depending on his hands to live,” added Masiyiwa.

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