NUST student making positive social impact through WhatsApp

SHE calls herself Aunty Nyarie and reaches out to more than 700 women via six WhatsApp chat groups where she teaches them about the ideal  woman as inspired by the Bible in Proverbs 31.

Proverbs 31 talks about a dignified virtuous woman and Aunty Nyarie wants the women in her group to be as righteous as a Provebs 31 woman.

Miss Nyaradzo Manasa, a third-year Property Development and Real Estate student at NUST, tackles issues that affect the girl child and women.

Miss Manasa, who turns 22 next month, created her first WhatsApp chat group named Fascinating Womanhood, to coach teenagers and women on how to handle relationship issues as well as build their confidence.

Participants in her groups say they have found a platform to share knowledge and experiences that have emboldened them to deal with Gender Based Violence (GBV) and issues related to growing up that aunts used to teach their families yester-year.

The Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) recorded a 100 percent spike in Gender Based Violence cases during the initial stages of the national lockdown.

In April 1 200 GBV cases were recorded against 500 that were recorded during the same period last year.

While institutions dealing with GBV cases recorded an increase in domestic violence cases, police recorded a decrease in the number of similar cases.

Observers noted that the reasons why institutions dealing with GBV cases recorded a spike in Covid-19 was mainly because the lockdown hindered free movement of people and some of the victims were stuck with their abusers at home.

Miss Manasa created her first group during the initial stages of lockdown in April.

A 33-year-old woman almost broke her spirit when she exploded in a tirade in the group saying she was too young to talk about issues affecting women.

The diatribe, which included unfounded accusations, triggered a mass exodus from her group.

She however resolved to let her works fight for her instead of giving up.

Five months later, Miss Manasa has seen her influence increasing on social media with her chat group becoming more and more popular by the day.

“The chat group now has more than 700 people. Due to WhatsApp limitations, I have opened six more groups under the same name and have a personal assistant who assists me in going through the chats while I make responses,” said Miss Manasa, who lives in Tshabalala suburb in Bulawayo.

“The group targets women aged 19 to 30 years and we discuss issues that affect us as women from early pregnancies and even sexual abuse.”

She said it has become more difficult for her to explain to those in her chat groups that she is just a young person also trying to learn the ropes of life.

Miss Manasa said some people with heartbreaking stories confide in her to get closure.

“I’ve dealt with some girls who have been sexually abused. Some of them can’t report to authorities fearing that speaking out can strain family relations. Some of them are abused by people who are expected to protect them. I think some families put a lot of trust in relatives who turn out be hyenas in sheep clothes,” said Miss Manasa.

She admitted that she is not always capable of handling some of the issues that are brought to her attention.

Miss Manasa is however quick to point out that sometimes people do not need someone to solve their problems but someone who just listens to them without being judgmental.

She said that may encourage victims of abuse to speak out and begin the long journey of their healing.

The youthful life coach said she engaged some local pastors who offer counselling to willing victims of abuse.

“In all this I have learnt that age should never be used as an excuse for not doing what your heart tells you to do. I could have listened to the 33-year-old woman who told me I can’t. But today I’m proud to be making an impact on so many people. Even this Covid-19 lockdown, should be viewed as an opportunity. It’s time to improve yourself and never give excuses. While some people are crying about the lockdown others are building houses and buying cars so excuses are not an option,” said Miss Manasa.

She said post Covid-19, she would love to meet some of the people she has had a positive impact on, stating that she has a passion for humanitarian work.

Televangelist such as TD Jakes and Sarah Jakes are some of the people who inspire the young coach and counsellor to reach out to young women.

At home she said her mother has been supportive as well some of her siblings.

Miss Manasa said she has started reaching out to men under the name Fascinating Manhood where she shares with young men on some of the issues that her female chatgroup compatriots highlight as behaviour that they wish men could change.

She declined to speak about her personal life and how it has influenced her to offer counselling even to those older than her.

Miss Manasa’s neighbour, Yolanda Dube (19) a member of one of her groups, said she was among the doubtful ones when the project started.

She said she realised the impact of the group when she eventually joined it last month.

“I have learnt a lot from the group especially on relationship issues. Some of us come from single mother led families and the lack of fatherly love has led to some girls in similar positions to give boyfriends too much respect as if they were their fathers. By so doing, a boyfriend can manipulate you and exploit you. But through Fascinating Womanhood we are learning to take charge as women and be in control of our lives without totally depending on men,” she said. – Chronicle.

 

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