I recently had the opportunity to travel to Zimbabwe to visit savings and credit association (SCA) programs
in person. In the local language, Shona, the groups are called Ndasunungurwa Trust, meaning, "I have been set free." As I heard the stories of many clients' transformation in Zimbabwe, it became evident that this translation was extremely telling of their life stories.
During one meeting, group members were given the opportunity to share their stories with the rest of the group and the visitors in the room. It was silent for a moment as individuals gathered their thoughts. I looked around, thinking of my own apprehension of speaking in front of a group, and wondered who would go first.
Then, I heard someone begin singing quietly in the back of the room. She stood and rose to her feet, started to sing a bit louder, and began walking to the front of the room, singing louder with each step. The rest of the group joined in with her song, standing to their feet as well. By the time she was at the front of the room, everyone was singing and clapping and dancing!
When the song ended, she began telling her story of transformation. She talked about another group member who came to her home, looked her in the eye, and said, "You are only dead if you think you are dead. You have too much life left to waste it."
After an invitation to join a savings group, she replied, "I have nothing. I can’t save."
Yet her friend persisted, "Yes, you can—we will help you and teach you." They now save together, worship, fellowship, buy groceries, and discuss the wares they take to market.
As she finished her story, she quietly returned to her seat in the room. It was silent again, but only for a moment. Slowly, someone else began to sing and rise to their feet, and once again everyone else joined in.
After the meeting I asked the local facilitator, Margaret, "Why did they sing before every time of sharing?"
She told me this was a way of building confidence to share their story with the group. These individuals have incredible stories of transformation, but they needed the camaraderie of their group mates to encourage them to the front of the room. This is what the SCAs are all about. Groups working together to transform their own lives, the lives of their families, and their communities.
I thought again about the translation: "I have been set free."
Set free from poverty.
Set free from hunger.
Set free from the bondage that comes with need.
Free to work with self-confidence and dignity.
Free to give to others in need.
Free to live with strength that comes from knowledge and education.
From death to life, from a life of need to a life of giving.