Gugulethu:the woman who has children at heart

Yeukai Tazira

A fourth-year Lupane State University student with humanity at heart has founded a foundation that is aimed at eradicating poverty through the outsourcing and donation of sanitary wear to underprivileged girls and marginalized minors.

Gugulethu Dlodlo (25) said the foundation was formed in October 2021 and is set to benefit girls aged between 10 to 17 years.

Recently she ran a Pad A Girl campaign which was aimed at securing 500 sanitary pads for girls.

Review and Mail’s writer and researcher Yeukai Tazira (YT) had an exclusive interview with the young philanthropist and this is what she had to say.  

YT: Who is Gugulethu, the woman behind the foundation?

GD: I’m Gugulethu Dlodlo, a final year student at Lupane state university, studying towards a Bachelor of Arts Hon Degree in languages and communication.

I’m an Entrepreneur, Adolescent Girls and Young Women’s advocate working with DAWA (Development Agenda for Women and Girls in Africa.) as well as the Founder of Igugulethu Foundation, which started recently last year in October.

YT: Where was she born, where did she grow up, what motivates her?

GD: I was born in UBH Lady Rowell maternity hospital in Bulawayo. My home is in Plumtree, Tekwane in Bulilima district.

I did both my primary and secondary levels at Filabusi in Insiza district. So basically I grew up in Filabusi.

YT: What inspired you to start Igugulethu foundation?

GD: My biggest motivation is family. They are my biggest source of inspiration and my strongest supporters as well. When I see my parents working, it gives me the drive to be like them. Their dedication to working is what motivates me to be like them. They are self-motivated individuals. Hence I try to imbibe their positivism into my life. My father is one of the strictest yet loving and my mother is the source of calm confidence. Knowing exactly where to push hard and where to slow down is something I have imbibed from her. They remain, my go-to people, when I feel under the weather or less motivated.

YT: Tell us, what inspired the Pad A Girl movement and it’s a journey, the trials, highs, and lows you faced along the way.

GD: I started Igugulethu Foundation with the aim to eradicate poverty by donating clothes, food, and sanitary with a focus on children aged 10-17 (both genders). We rely on community and NGO’s generous donations.

During my attachment, we used to have a lot of field works in peripheral rural areas and that is when I noticed that there are children who are indeed living in extreme poverty. I am also a firm believer who believes that ‘faith without works is dead. It will not be a blessing to worship and sit comfortably at church when you’re fully aware that there are children who have nothing to wear and no food to eat.

 I collaborated with Loveness Jere (Director  Loveness student at Catholic University of Zimbabwe),Roseline Musekiwa (Miss Glamour 2021 and Miss Model Mediterranean Global Zimbabwe 2022, Mental Health Advocate, Media Student from Lupane state University),Natasha Mthethwa (student nurse and representative of *Padup* Private company) and Nozintombi Nyathi  (Student from Lupane state University).

Some of the girls who received sanitary wear courtesy of Gugulethu foundation

We targeted to raise 500 pads. By the grace of God, we managed to raise 400. And distributed 42 at Home of peace in Bulawayo orphanage homes in Thorngroove. We are yet to donate some in Plumtree this week, Nkayi and Insiza district.

YT: Do u think the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Childcare are doing enough to address the needs of young girls. If not what more do u think needs to be done?

GD: I feel like they are not doing enough. If you were to take a stroll in the city, you would realize there are so many street kids, yet there are orphanage homes that are not congested and some are empty. Why?

Children in African countries continue to face various challenges including access to services and being taken care of and Zimbabwe is no exception to this problem.

However, a friendly version of the National Implementation Plan on Child Care in a bid to increase awareness of the Government’s plan of action with regards to the full realization of children’s rights in Zimbabwe is a great initiative.

The National Child Care Implementation Plan is a positive step towards ensuring that children’s rights are realized, which is great.

So I feel like they’re trying, the problem is they take steps but they don’t implement them. Great initiatives without implementation equal to nothing.

YT: What is next for Igugulethu foundation?

GD: We have lots of programs coming up which include dealing with empowering youths with skills discipline and in combating juvenile delinquency alleviating the risks of HIV. We are also going to support the disabled and disadvantaged of the community with skills development training where we will rope in experts

 Pregnant women or mothers of babies who are between the ages of 0 to 6 months are also included in the program we also support them by offering Antenatal and Postnatal classes for mothers free of charge. The classes are run virtually on a data-free platform so they will not incur any data costs. They should be willing to attend the sessions twice a week over a period of five weeks for an hour a session.

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