Noluvo Sideba - A Champion for Change
Nolovu Sideba was born and grew up in Brandeston, a village on one of the nine farms that is now part of Kwandwe Private Game Reserve. In 1993 she married Ernest Njadayi and returned to the village where she was born. When the Foundation began its work in the villages of Kwandwe she emerged as the leader chosen by her community to be their community development practitioner. A steering committee was appointed and with Noluvo at the helm, the community came together to identify issues they wished to see resolved to fulfil their vision for the village. This included establishing self-help groups for unemployed women in the village, the provision of pre-school facilities, and transport for school-going children. They also highlighted alcohol abuse as a problem in the community, and there was a growing concern among parents that the children of Brandeston had nowhere safe to play.
The children were returning from school, and going to the river which is dangerous because many of them could not swim. It was collectively agreed that the village needed a safe after care facility for the children. With unfaltering determination, the women of Brandeston's ‘Imizamoyethu’ (meaning ‘our effort’) self-help group began sourcing building materials. Before long they had secured zinc sheeting and wooden poles from Kwandwe management, who had saved what they could from the removal of farm dwellings and fences while developing the reserve. As soon as they had gleaned these items, the women began digging holes for the first wooden posts, but it was not long before the whole community had joined them in building. Apart from some cement that was donated for the floor, Imizamoyethu was built entirely through the resourcefulness and perseverance of the self-help group and the people of Brandeston community.
Recognising the significance of what the community had done for themselves, the Foundation took the next step and began fundraising in earnest for a brick and mortar community centre building which would be large enough to house the pre-school, a gym for staff and a leadership and training facility.
Although the Mgcamabele (meaning ‘rainbow’) Community Centre is now complete, the Imizamoyethu building continues to serve as a symbol of the success of community-championed development initiatives. Indeed, the Foundation would not have invested in establishing the centre had they not been convinced by the sheer determination of the women of the village, to take the future of their families into their own hands. The multi-purpose centre now provides a hub for community initiatives on the reserve and houses two pre-school classes, a crèche, gym, craft centre, training room and mini library. Six local women are employed full-time and a further seven women run their own businesses from the Centre. The Centre is run under the leadership of community members and is managed and overseen by a community-appointed Steering Committee. Funds for the running of the centre are raised through Kwandwe Private Game Reserve’s guest levy, guest donations, pre-school fees and fundraising events. These income sources and other revenue generating initiatives are aimed at ensuring that the centre is fully financially sustainable.
Noluvo is now the Community Development Manager for Kwandwe and along with Pre-school Manager, Asimanye Msila, she manages the day to day running of the community centre. “I am very proud of myself and I have seen my dreams come true”, she says.
“Being a leader is not an easy job but because everything I’ve done has been following my heart, I’ll never give up. Today when I see people coming forward, and especially the youth wanting to be involved in positive things, it gives me more strength”.
Noluvo also serves her community in her role as a Health Champion. She works alongside Ubunye Foundation Family Health Programme Coordinator, Kathryn Court, to support child and family health at the crèche and pre-school and through home visits. She also plays an active role in improving access to health services for her rural community by liaising with government services such as the mobile clinic and lobbying for better service delivery as well as responsible use by the community themselves. As she explains, “If there is a problem that needs to be sorted out I refer people where they can get help, for example FAMSA, SASSA, Home Affairs or the Department of Health”.
Noluvo exemplifies Ubunye’s approach to nurturing and developing local leadership, she is a true community development champion.
“Through my experience I have gained lots of skills to plough back into my community, like running meetings and workshops, attending training and learning how to use a computer. It’s like a gift to me and it is something I wish that I will be able to leave for my children and my community.”