The year 2009 crept in quietly and one could be forgiven for wondering if people noticed that we were entering a new year.

For the first time since the introduction of mobile phones, I did not receive a single text message wishing me a happy new year and expressing hopes for a brighter future - something that some friends have attributed to the dollarisation of the economy - with airtime now being purchased in US dollars. I certainly don't want to think I've suddenly become unpopular, so, I'll opt to believe that people were generally too preoccupied to care. In my view, everyone is caught up in the struggle for survival and too busy for merry making.

A few isolated fireworks were heard somewhere in the distance, but I did not even bother to go out and see them - I could not be bothered to leave the warmth of my bed to watch fireworks at a few minutes past midnight.

Yet, despite the silence the characterised the year's entry, I could not suppress the hope, anticipation and excitement that I felt deep within.

Indeed 2008 was a tough year for Zimbabweans, particularly women. The troubles that bedevilled the country are too numerous to mention and included an inconclusive election followed by equally inconclusive power sharing negotiations, political violence, water and power shortages and a cholera outbreak to name a few.

But, thank God for new beginnings. If anything, hope has kept this nation going. So it is with hope that I greet the new year and I have hope that this year, life is going to improve, not only for me as an individual, but for Zimbabwean women in general.

So, here's to a brighter future and a better 2009!

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Happy New Year, Matilda! It did seem like an uneasy entrance to a new year here as well. My friends, family and I are feeling the crunch in the US as unemployment continues to rise. Many more are employed but have had their number of hours cut significantly which has been the case at the restaurant where I work. Stepping into 2009, I hope to take with me all of the lessons I have learned and the circles of friends and family that keep me strong. Let us raise our glasses high and toast to new beginnings!

Best wishes for the year ahead,

Lisa

... is there possibly a BOLD IDEA for 2009 that you would share with our community? World Pulse has announced our 2nd Annual BOLD IDEAS contest and I urge you to participate!

Simply tell us your BOLD IDEA for empowering women in 2009 and bring your friends onto PulseWire to share their visions with our community, too. My BOLD IDEA for 2009 is quite simple. Treat every single person as you would a newborn baby. Could you imagine how much more peaceful the world would be?

You can see the full description of the contest here: http://www.worldpulse.com/node/4710

Happy New Year! May all your texting wishes come true. :-)

In partnership, Jennifer

Jennifer Ruwart Chief Collaborator JR Collaborations

Happy New Year to you Matilda and wishing you all the best in 2009. I do believe it is an uneasy entrance to the new year in a lot of places economically as well as emotionally. Even in Canada our unemployment rate is up and people are losing their jobs left, right and centre, and it is going to stay this way for at least another year (hope not)! We can't let ourselves get down over this we must keep going and fight our way through this because this will end and we are all going to be the survivors. I am going to keep pushing ahead and take with me all of the lessons that I have learned from the circles of friends that I have met along the way that have kept me strong. As Lisa said, let us raise our glasses high and toast to new beginnings that well happen in the coming year or next!

Susan

I wish you a blessed 2009.I know what Zimbabwe and countries around the world underwent last year,we only wish,pray,push,advocate,do all that is possible to have a positive change this year! My city has also had terrible power shortages in the past year,and the economy is so bad.Today is a school opening day,and most parents don't know how to send their children to school since the cost of education has doubled.Buying a complete set of uniform and books for one child is almost impossible for most parents.

Thank you for the strength of endurance that you,Matilda,and the women of Zimbabwe have had.We hope to achieve better this year!

Let us all toast to a brighter future!

Leah Okeyo.

Your writing is so vivid, Matilda - I can almost feel as if I am there with you. It truly will be year unlike the world has never seen before. But even though here, in the US, we feel some squeeze - it cannot compare to the collapsing economic & political situation in zimbabwe, which the whole world needs to wake up to - so many lives hang in the balance. Because of women like you - and our collective hope and action, and rising voices - this year will bring new changes. I would love to hear more about the view of your country's changes through your eyes . we would love to do an article soon, as well, so do keep us posted on important news and events, and recommend any additional writers. consider applying for our Voices of the Future Awards too -- which you shall soon here more about!!! In partnership, Jensine

Jensine Larsen World Pulse

Hi Matilda,

It is so wonderful to hear your voice here on PulseWire. I have been following the situation in Zimbabwe as best as I could this past year as my former professor is living there now and so many difficulties have befallen your country. Each time I read the news and see something about Zimbabwe, it's usually something terrible that's happened and I often wonder how your people continue to maintain their strength each day. But that is what hope is all about isn't it - realizing that things have gone too far, cannot continue in such a way and that a change for the better in inevitable.

To hear your voice so clear, positive and focused on the possibilities for a new and brighter future for Zimbabwe brings me hope as well. I also feel that 2009 is going to be a year for new beginnings. And if women like you, and like me, like he other members here on PulseWire and like so many others in your country and around the world, can raise our voices and mold our actions to help shape the hope that we wish to see - then things will have to change.

I look forward to hearing more from you about the situation in Zimbabwe, about your personal journey in life and about the future that you wish to see for you and for the people of your country.

Thank you for such a fresh breath of air!

Warm regards, Jade