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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth's Library

The Domboshava Literacy Ladies

In July 2019, a team from the U.S. attended the dedication of ELI’s Domboshava Community Library in Zimbabwe; while there, they had the pleasure of meeting the Domboshava Literacy Ladies group. This is the story of these incredible women who have inspired their communities with their courage and tenacity for change!

The story began four years ago when Tellmore (ELI’s first Zimbabwe director) organized a gathering of nineteen very poor women living in the Domboshava community to meet Lana Lynn and learn about Elizabeth’s Library. The question was asked,” What is a library?” Lana shared the vision of a community library that also offered adult literacy classes, and then she asked the women,” How many of you are able to read and write?” Only three women raised their hands. Lana proceeded to ask,” Who would like to learn to read and write?” All hands shot up!

One of the ladies present, Sipheneli, a retired kindergarten teacher, offered to instruct the women. Thereby forming the Domboshava Literacy Ladies group, which numbered nineteen women, ages 17-69! The newly formed group began meeting under a tree in Sipheneli's yard, determined to have an education and hoping for a better future for themselves and their children.

Several months later, ELI commissioned Tellmore to seek a good location to construct a permanent community library. A piece of scrubland was purchased and the Literacy Ladies proceeded to clear the land themselves with pickaxes and hoes. What they could not do themselves, they hired a team of oxen to finish. Just as this incredible dream of a library was taking hold, Tellmore and her four year old daughter Rejoice tragically died following a car accident. Two other daughters, Jocelyn and baby Rose survived.

The Literacy group was devastated to lose their mentor and friend, and feared that their dreams of an education had died as well.  ELI assured them that the vision would continue to go forward with the funding of two income generating projects – a vegetable garden and raising chickens for sale. Their hope was renewed.

As the women were learning, and realizing their individual strengths and aptitudes, they organized themselves to care for different projects, with team leaders, a treasurer, and president.


Last year, ELI was blessed with a grant that afforded an expansion of the original garden and poultry projects on the Domboshava property. These amazing women continue to attend literacy classes, grow and harvest crops, keep chickens, all while caring for themselves and their families. Their children enjoy coming to the garden and “helping” their mothers. Pumping water from the bore hole is one of their favorite jobs! Because this gift was a grant, the women know that return payments must be made, so they are working very hard to make their income generating projects successful.

The new library directly serves two communities with many visitors from further away, so in addition to all the library activities, it is the ideal place for community gatherings and social opportunities (UNO and Bingo games are favorites). The village leaders have taken notice of the major changes in these women; how their education and enterprise have given them confidence to serve their communities in new and positive ways.

On the day of the library dedication ceremony, the women wore their beautiful new dresses made for the occasion, with lanyard badges that identified their specific roles that day, as greeters, ushers, hospitality and even security! These ladies planned the entire event with music, food and entertainment for four hundred guests. The Literacy Ladies are proud of their new library and wanted to demonstrate and share with all, especially the team from the US, the progress, the pride of ownership, and give praise to God for all that has been accomplished so far. The Ladies would love to beautify the grounds with the advice of a professional landscaper.


What’s next for the Domboshava Literacy Ladies?

Last Christmas, an ELI supporter gifted the women with a new sewing machine. Now, the women are hoping to have a sewing training center, whereby they and other village women can  learn a marketable skill, making school uniforms. The women did a “market analysis” by visiting local schools to learn if there was a need, and if it would be a worthy income-generating project. The answer is yes! The ladies have already identified an instructor and will use the community room on days that the library is closed to the public, but the project will require additional sewing machines, tables, basic supplies and cloth. The start up cost of this sewing training program is $3,200, and has the potential to change the livelihood for so many women and their families.

ELI not only builds libraries, but supports educational opportunities that can be life transforming.  We ask that you prayerfully consider making a  generous gift that will bless these hard working women and move them forward in their hope for a different future for their families and communities.

Please donate today, so we can quickly meet the goal of $3,200 and launch the  Domboshava Literacy Ladies Sewing Project. Thank you.

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