Prayers for peace change lives

via Prayers for peace change lives | The Zimbabwean 20 August 2014

When Debra Sibanda, together with Christian women from various churches in Bulawayo, decided to form the National Inter-Denominational Prayer Association NIDPA to pray for peace during last year’s elections and referendum, little did they anticipate the outcome.

Their prayer meetings were not only going to open a new spiritual window for their lives but propel them into a new level of entrepreneurship as well.

“I initiated the idea of peace-building prayers for the nation after realising that our country was so polarised along political lines. I approached a number of women from various churches and they embraced the idea. We started our weekly peace-building prayers, which I strongly believe also contributed to the peaceful and elections which were held in July last year,” said Sibanda in an interview with The Zimbabwean last week.

Diversity of skills

After the elections, the women decided to take advantage of the diversity of skills and talent from members by assisting each other in coming up with income-generating projects.

“We realised that although the prayer meetings were spiritually uplifting, our earthly lives remained miserable because of the current harsh economy. Earlier this year, we formed the Bethlehem Women’s Club with the objective of economically empowering women. Joining this club is optional. One does not have to be a member of NIDPA in order to join.” said Sibanda.

Bethlehem Women’s Club operates from Sibanda’s house in Mpopoma. Its 25 members are currently engaged in the production of peanut butter and of decorative candles.

“I have been trained in candle making and in the production of peanut butter. I assist the other women with my knowledge which helps them to earn a living. As a Christian, I strongly believe in sharing,” she said.

A 50 kg bag of candle wax produces about 350 candles. The wax costs $40 and each candle is sold for R4. Every week the women use two bags of wax and the money realised from sales is kept by the club’s treasurer and shared equally among members after deductions of all expenses.

Lending scheme

“Every cent is strictly accounted for. The demand for our candles has been constant because of incessant power-cuts, and our prices are competitive. We also run a lending scheme for our members who need to pay schools fees or have other urgent expenses such as funerals. A lot of our members have benefitted from this scheme,” said Thembeka Mathanda, the treasurer.

Club member Shingairai Million said being a member of both NIDPA and Bethlehem Women’s Club had made her a prayer warrior as well as entrepreneur. “Since the time I joined NIDPA and the Bethlehem Club, my life has changed spiritually and financially. I am now able to buy nutritious food for my family. I am also able to send my kids to school” she said.


Another club member, Morren Dube, said the candle-making and peanut butter projects had been instrumental in financially empowering her and fellow club members. “I would like to thank umama Sibanda for coming up with this project. Some of us depended solely on money from our husbands, but now we are also able to contribute to better food, clothes and education for our children, and this has led our husbands to respect us,” said Dube.

Sibanda appealed for donations to acquire for bigger and better machines.“Our major challenge is that, our equipment is a bit out-dated. We need efficient machines so that we can improve on the quality of our products and especially on labelling and packaging,” she said.