Women’s Leadership in Zimbabwe!

Posted by Bob Stilger on April 16, 2016

My dear friend Maaianne Knuth recently shared this story from the month long women’s leadership journey at Kufunda Learning Village

A few weeks ago we completed our second Young Women are Medicine retreat. A month long journey with 18 young women, 16 from all over Zimbabwe, with two joining us from Europe. Your support enabled us to make the journey with them – and what a journey it was.

kufundawomenpottingIn many ways it felt like a pregnancy and delivery, with a long and painful, but often joyful, and ultimately fruitful labour :). What we mean to say is that it was neither a bed of roses nor a walk in the park. We journeyed to deeply painful places; we travelled to old wounds; hidden hurt; fundamental lack of faith in the world; high walls built to safeguard hearts that had lived through much trauma; old patterns taught to survive and protect – leaving many of the women too afraid to soften and open and trust.

We travelled into and through those domains.

The sense we have at this ending, is not that ‘the work is done’, but rather that an important beginning has happened. A beginning that has already led to a new sense of possibility, to new and real experiences of self worth, to a softening into the support that can be available, in a community of peers, in a circle of sisterhood.

As we have written in an article about this (that has not yet been published):

“In creating a space of trust, where each one was welcomed as they were; in journeying together in an exploration of the heart of each woman, we allowed the natural intelligence of human kindness to reach beyond the patterns of wounded defence into collaborative healing and inspiration.”

We are in the process of writing up a harvest of the journey, which we will share with you. Here please find the link to some of the best photos. They tell so much more than many words will ever convey, and… we remember as we look through them, that those moments in the labour, of very painful, vulnerable, risk~full contractions are not recorded on camera, only held with infinite respect in the heart of our group. Know that we felt your support at those intimate times more than ever.

Thank you for stepping in to support this work. Thank you for stepping in to support this journey.

It was an honour to be in service of this group of women, and a gift to be in it with them, with you at our backs.

It became clear during this month that next year we need to expand the programme. So in addition to a one-month programme (which we are already receiving requests for through word of mouth), we will also host a programme for alumni who feel called to begin to offer thesekufundawomensitting kinds of spaces and this kind of support to women in their home communities.

We will stay in touch with you – we may return to ask for more financial contribution ;-), and if any of you know of smaller (or big) foundations that might be interested in supporting this kind of work, please let us know. It is time to bring some institutional support behind what is happening here, because we see evermore deeply, that this is crucial work, healing work – enabling something new to be born among young women in Zimbabwe – and beyond.

Much love,

Maaianne with the team: Sikhethiwe, Patricia, Florence, Eliza, Bieke, Laura, Gogo J and Gogo Bev

From some of the Women….

‘I have changed more than I think.  I never knew there is medicine in being together as women.  I was so reserved, I couldn’t share my problems with anyone.  But with the other women I was able to open up my heart and release all the bitterness. I learnt to love and accept myself’.

‘I used to be a person who didn’t love myself because I felt insecure about myself and my body.  I couldn’t speak in front of people. Here I had time to be with myself and know who I really am. It helped me a lot and I had time to find my Warrior Queen inside of me. Thank you Kufunda’

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