Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
SHE exudes charisma and confidence and is so passionate about her work as a story teller.

Through her vivid narratives, she is empowering impoverished members of her community, one at time.

On 26 March, a few days before the onset of lockdown in Zimbabwe, Ms Bathabile Dlamini (28) of Cowdray Park suburb in Bulawayo conducted a survey of her community’s awareness of Covid-19.

The engagement was quite revealing and she immediately captured it on a video, which she posted on Facebook as part of an awareness campaign on coronavirus. The post garnered 663 views, 21 comments and 14 shares on the first day.

Since then, she had been creating daily Covid-19 awareness short documentaries shared on social media platforms that include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Through those short videos, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Lawyers represented Cowdray Park residents after complaints that the community did not have running water for six days. The community had resorted to using sewer water at a time when it is very critical to practice good hygiene in the wake of the deadly Covid-19 virus.

Through her unheralded work, Ms Dlamini has so far managed to mobilise donations for at least three Bulawayo families that have received cash and groceries after highlighting their plight through her short documentaries on social media.

Besides mobilising resources for the people affected by the prolonged lockdown, Ms Dlamini also plays a critical role of raising awareness as Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the country with Bulawayo recording the highest number of deaths lately.

“I go out in the streets in my neighbourhood to find out how much knowledge my community has about Covid-19. It’s the effort that matters and the findings are quite overwhelming. Whenever I post those video footages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I also get an overwhelming response and people share those videos,” she said.

“There has been a wave of giving and receiving as a result of the short video clips that I have been posting on social media. Recently, there are three food hampers that were donated by well-wishers to three families after having documented their stories.”

Ms Dlamini said the three families that received donations shared their emotionally engaging stories on how they were coping during Covid-19, including the challenges they have come across.

“The first family that I documented is headed by Gogo MaThebe, a vendor. During the interview she spoke of how she has been struggling to feed her family as well as how she ended up staying in a house in Cowdray Park that doesn’t have windows and doors,” she said.

After Gogo MaThebe’s story was shared on social media, Ms Dlamini said a well-wisher donated US$100, which she used to boost her vending business.

“During our interview, Gogo MaThebe indicated that she was struggling to grow her vending business and when I posted her story on Facebook, a well-wisher donated US$100 and that is a positive thing,” she said.

Through her work, Ms Dlamini also helped a 24-year-old woman who does not have a birth certificate to secure assistance including getting decent accommodation. The woman, a mother of two children aged four and two, stayed in someone’s incomplete house in Cowdray Park.

The woman’s parents died before they could get her a birth certificate.

“She explained how she became a mother at a very tender age. She also told me that she didn’t have a birth certificate for her to be positively identified hence people were not willing to employ her. She also narrated how she was struggling to survive in these trying times of the pandemic,” she said.

“Although her major concern was to secure a birth certificate, positive things came out from that story because well-wishers have reached out and given her groceries. There is a woman based in the United Kingdom who gave her a food hamper and I took it to her house.”

Another well-wisher also offered to assist the woman by sending the children clothes and shoes.

“And there is also someone from the UK who also offered to provide decent shelter for the woman and her children. She is now staying in that house as a helper and she is also going to be paid for looking after that property,” said Ms Dlamini.

She said a group of individuals based in the UK contacted her and offered to facilitate funds for the woman to get her identity documents and the process has started.

A media graduate from the National University of Science and Technology (Nust), Ms Dlamini is passionate about the media and enjoys every minute of it.

“I am passionate about the media and celebrate women who have tremendous accomplishments in the industry. The likes of Oprah Winfrey who started from nothing to build something that they strongly believed in. She had a clear vision and knew where she wanted to get to,” she said. – @mashnets.