How three winners of the 2020 AEIF grant award have set out to transform their local communities by advancing female empowerment and education.
The Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) always brings a plethora of innovative ideas, initiatives, and solutions from across the world. The Tubambane Project is no exception.
Tubambane is a Zambian word that means "let us nurture each other." Emerging from a dedication to eradicate Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the Monze District of Zambia, the Tubambane Project was created with the hope of empowering women and girls to succeed in their communities and to achieve socio-economic justice in the region.
Founded by Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) alumni Inonge Malambo, Robson Maamba, and Nang’amba Chintu, this 2020 AEIF project equips girls and women with the practical skills needed to sustain themselves and their families. Domestic violence is on the rise inmany rural areas and many women lack access to basic food amenities and proper nutrition. Through the Tubambane Project, Inonge, Robson, Nag’amba, and team donate seeds and fertilizers to women’s groups that support GBV survivors, in turn helping the women sustain and grow their own food supply to combat malnutrition and to achieve economic independence.
In 2019, the project raised funding to provide 200 kilograms of maize seed, 400 kilograms of groundnut seeds, and 1,000 kilograms of fertilizer to 50 women’s groups throughout the Keemba, Lucenje, Nteme, Munyenze and Moonzwe regions of Zambia. Accompanied by agricultural training for GBV survivors, the seed donations have helped to reduce malnutrition and poverty among survivors of GBV in the region and to strengthen self-sufficiency.
The project, funded by a 2020 AEIF grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the U.S. Department of State, also offers training courses designed to strengthen women and girls’ financial literacy and promote economic independence. Moreover, counseling sessions offer critical psychodynamic support to help survivors of GBV confront past trauma and rebuild their lives from a point of strength and confidence.
It’s clear the project’s founders are passionate about making a difference in their community – and experiences from both their early lives and within the MWF program have guided their expertise and interest in social entrepreneurship.
Inonge, who studied public management during her time as a Fellow, says her exchange experience not only provided the requisite knowledge to manage her own organization, but also equipped her with a sense of self-confidence she carries with her everyday. The MWF program helped Nag’amba and Robson to hone their leadership skills – enabling them to organize resources and community members alike and to network with other like-minded leaders in the industry to learn from and share ideas with.
“My participation in the Mandela Washington Fellowship helped me to become the change that I would love to see in my community,” noted Nag’amba.
To foster a society that supports survivors of GBV and to combat future acts of violence, the Tubambane Project also targets male community members and promotes conversation through community-based radio talk shows addressing societal and cultural practices that traditionally have been less inclusive of women. Through strengthening the region’s health and educational system, the project ultimately aims to reach 5,000 survivors of GBV by 2025.