Breakthrough to the Light
  • Breakthrough to the Light

Norma awoke to the tingle of the sun’s rays on her face and the loud sound of rushing water. It was dark, save for a chink of light above her head. The stench was overwhelming. Over the din she could hear what sounded like a tractor moving about. Spurred on, she got up, slipping and sliding as she groped around and finally grasped what felt like a metal rung. It was a ladder leading to the light. The crevice at the top was far too small to let her through, so she yelled for help, praying someone would hear. They did.

Disabled in one leg and two months pregnant, her boyfriend had beaten and then shoved her down the sanitary sewer, leaving her for dead. Unconscious and hurt, Norma had been swept through two suburbs of muck before getting out, just because he would not take responsibility for the pregnancy.

Sadly, this is one of many stories that come out of the poor neighborhoods of Harare. But not all of them are sad. I hear them every day, I know and work with the people, collecting their stories to mainly share with donors, and the public in the West.

Crossing Paths with World Pulse

A while ago, on my World Pulse journal, I wrote about my disappointment at the state of Zimbabwe’s media. How my dream of becoming a journalist was nearly annihilated until a friend (Fungai Machrori) suggested I try writing online on forums such as provided by World Pulse. And yet even as I celebrate having found alternative space to better apply my skills plus a job that puts me in direct contact with the poor and marginalized, I am once again faced with a dilemma. Is my writing helping those whose stories I write, particularly the women?

I am always struck by the way women share their stories. No matter how agonizing the stories, they always manage to speak so soundly that I wish I didn’t have to be the intermediary. I do get the feeling that by sharing they feel a little better and am glad. If only I could find a way to have them literally “speak for themselves”, as I may not do so adequately on their behalf. Perhaps relief and change can come quickly.

My Vision for the Future - Follow the Light!

So lately my thoughts have been fixated on how I can use mobile phone technology to get women in Zimbabwe to tell their stories? Mobile phone technology has become pervasive in Zimbabwe where before it was limited to urban centers. Many can now access the internet. And while it may seem the answer is to simply give a woman a Cellphone, I believe there is need to organize women, to capacitate them on how they can harness this resource and for what purposes. But before I can come up with ways to achieve this, I too need to learn a few things, possibly here on World Pulse.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Your Journey and Vision.

Comment on this Post


Hi Maggy,

I like your story. This particular line got my attention - If only I could find a way to have them literally “speak for themselves”. I like your thoughts on the use of mobile phones to tell their stories. It does have great potential.

I once read about a research where a community was given a basic video camera . they were taught how to use it then asked to document their experiences on video, no professional no edits. This was on an environmental subject. Maybe you could try this approach?

Just sharing ideas,



A candle looses nothing my lighting another

Maggy, I love what you wrote and I am all about following the light. I can relate to your doubts wondering if your writing helps. I can personally tell you that reading other women's writing saved my life. I've always been an avid reader and when I was married and felt trapped reading inspiring words were my only escape. And they inspired me to write. So keep it on. You are doing so much.

Love, Lisa

You are so right about the potential that mobile technology has in Zim. I was just reading how a mobile campaign by the Youth Forum has helped to push youths to register to vote in the coming election. But Zimbabwe being Zimbabwe I also read that their offices were raided and the police confiscated some of the equipment they were using for their sms service.

That's the reality MaDube but something's gotta give some day. If at first you don't succeed...

And I think the experience of the youths can offer some lessons which can inform new strategies.



I am fixated on how to use technology to bring the women of my state together to work collectively toward political, social and environmental change... There is so much to learn!! I am glad for the opportunity to find the answers together!

Much joy and encouragement, Maggs!!


"I am the flicker, flame, butterfly ablaze who wants to fly in search of mythical rainbows beyond the rain." ~ Ana Castillo

Maggs, I totally agree with the questions you've asked yourself recently. And ICTs for development certainly is the way to go! May you find progress, favour, success ...

Love, Ruthibelle

My dear, you got me hooked in with that first line. I am going to say it again - you don't write as much as you should because you have sooooo much talent.

So anyway, there I am reading and ah, my little name pops up again! You people are too lovely :)

But onto the crux of your story, yes, I totally know what you mean. I have been there, too, collecting people's stories about horrific ordeals and wondering if doing a write-up about them really made any difference in their world. But I am reminded that sometimes it does. At uni, I once wrote a piece about an HIV positive couple which got my lecturer, Dr Burkett, really interested in finding out more. When her friend visited from the US, she went to see the couple and donated money towards the income-generating project they were running.

If I hadn't written the piece, the sequence of events that took place would not have happened. We are all part of a process and while we can't help everyone directly, we can shed light on situations that no one would otherwise know about, like the woman screaming in the sewer...

from today i live out of my imagination i am more than my yesterday tomorrow i plant a new seed nothing that lies behind easy nothing that is ahead real my within is all i have today Napo Masheane


I hear your concerns on whether you're writing is giving justice to the women stories.

I think you writing the women stories on their behalf can provide them with a space to be heard, you are being a witness to them using there voices. Thank you for what you are doing.

I know for sure as you fallow the light, the path you need to take will open up. Happy journey.


Azaria Ulmer, CHC, CPCC Wellness & Empowerment Coach

Real Foods Heal Everything is food...what are you hungry for? 646-721-1330

Sacred Woman Empowering women and girls around the world 646-721-1330

Dear Maggs,

I'd love to read your story and your plan to follow the lights! Turn all the women ON to catch their dreams in terms of freedom and gender equity. You also have a leadership skill on providing news for many stakeholders. It also helps community to promote their life, both socially and economically. They can live properly by avoiding poverty cycle through raise awareness, etc. I truly proud of you Maggie :)

In partnership,

Tari Indonesia

-- M&E of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Indonesia

"Be the change that you wish to change." - Mahatma Gandhi.

I sometimes feel like, as a development practitioner, I've been trained to tell people's stories for them rather than provide platforms through which people can share their own stories.I think you hit the nail on the head, though, that you can best be of use by organizing women and providing them resources. That's all any of us need, anyhow. That's what Pulse Wire is doing for us. I look forward to seeing and hearing from you in the global media soon!

Cheers, Lorraine