When I arrived in Gordon’s Bay on 29th April I was asked what I had volunteered for. I had chosen child care but then I spoke to the Base Manager about the Women’s Empowerment Workshop, this intrigued me, what was it all about – teaching women how to use the computers – word, excel, power-point and presentation – didn’t seem very exciting. I was of course imagining this in an English setting, how mistaken was I!
We arrived at 9am on the Tuesday to the Nomzamo community centre to be greeted by over 20 women seated patiently. We set the 5 laptops up and started logging the ladies on, some had already been working their way through Word and excel, some had just started power-point and some had never used a computer before.
At that moment, I was terrified – I had never taught before, I had no formal qualifications but what I did have was a commitment to GVI to do the best I could and use the tools given to us.
On the 11th May we had a visit from some Faculty members from US Universities, a group of 4 ladies compiled and presented Business proposals, these where women who a few short weeks before hadn’t ever used a computer! The confidence and belief these women showed humbled me and showed me that workshops like these really can change lives, not just these women but their daughters and their daughters daughters.
Working with these women taught me the following:
- Never ever make assumptions on where someone is based and how they live
- The thirst for knowledge never goes away either as a teacher or a student
- The feeling of achievement when someone you have taught suddenly gets it, is amazing
- Women everywhere face the same challenges and want the best for their families no matter where or how they live I can make myself understood to someone who’s English is not their first language – nor their second – I could teach!
It is true you can give a man a fish and he will feed his family or you can teach him how to fish and he can feed his village – or a woman!
Written by Joanne Twiner – Volunteer in Cape Town