Symbol of hope for migrants

Siphathisiwe Dube left Zimbabwe for South Africa in 2005 to seek treatment for a deadly illness – cervical cancer.

Handiwork.... Some of the craft work  women have produced under Dube’s guidance.
Handiwork…. Some of the craft work women have produced under Dube’s guidance.

Nine years later, she has become a symbol of hope for many of her fellow migrants in a country where foreigners are not usually respected. She has worked as a volunteer for a number of organisations that seek to empower disadvantaged communities, especially women and children.

“I help awaken people to their capacity to lead productive, responsible, ethical and happy lives, and to empower them achieve their goals,” says Dube.

“I am motivated by my belief in the power of affirmation, communication, co-operation and community building to transform situations in ways that demonstrate the good in every human being.”

Craft training

At the Southern African Women’s Institute for Migration Affairs, Dube helped train unskilled migrant women in knitting. In a number of other organisations, she has trained them in various crafts.

“Such training helps women to define who they are and what they want and to create an action plan to make it happen,” she said.

She has helped transform more than 1,000 women to transform their unfortunate situations into a rewarding future.

“My desire is to see people reclaim their identity, get out of stuck patterns, rid themselves of indecisiveness and chaos, develop meaningful relationships and make plans for their lives,” she added.

Dube was orphaned at the age of 10. “My upbringing was not a bed of roses, but it helped me realise that my choices and decisions determine my destination. I have survived cervical cancer and a series of other health issues and I am stronger today,” she said.

Back in Zimbabwe, Dube worked as a national parks ranger for more than 15 years. “I enjoyed my job, which involved interacting with people from all walks of life. When I came to Johannesburg, I had to change lanes as it was not easy to get a job in the same industry in which I used to work,” she said.

A duty to contribute

Despite ill health, Dube was forced to toil as soon as she arrived in Johannesburg, where finding employment is difficult. “I did odd jobs ranging from domestic work, street vending to being an assistant researcher in the African Centre for Migration and Society at Wits University.

“In the field data collection I have done in informal settlements, I learnt to love what I do and appreciate every human being for who they are. I learnt to contribute positively to the community and society that I live in and never to judge anyone. I believe that we all have a duty to contribute to our communities, be it in our country of birth or our adopted homes.”

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