Michelle Sophie Mtandwa is a very energetic young lady from Zimbabwe who is passionate about change and operates with the shona mantra “Simba mukaka rinosinira” which means strength oozes. Sophie runs a project called Giving back to the community which she carries out on a yearly basis on her birthday. She started this initiative in 2014 and has had the opportunity to impact a host of communities in various parts of Zimbabwe which include Bumhudzo old peoples home, Mathew Rusike Children’s home, Zhombwe primary school, Mashambanzou Care Trust and Isheanesu center for disabled children donating food and sanitary wear. She wishes in future to start her own nonprofit organization. I had the opportunity to sit down with her and had the following interview.
John: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Sophie?
Sophie: I am currently studying towards an Honors in Social Work at The Women’s University of Africa (WUA). I am also all over the place volunteering, I am currently volunteering with national blood services Zimbabwe and I am the current national president for pledge 25 Club Zimbabwe which is a group of young people who pledge to donate at least 25 pints of safe blood before they reach the age of 30. Also volunteering with GarlsRUs which concerned with the dignity of the girl child and they provide sanitary wear to keep disadvantaged girls in school and the list goes on.
John: What inspires you as an individual.
Sophie: I am inspired by the love of God. And individuals like Martin Luther King Jnr who were so selfless in wanting to make a difference. My environment also plays a part in inspiring me the most as there is a lot of work that needs to be done.
John: What made you want to start your charity project.
Sophie: I grew up in a child headed family and I succumbed to a lot of pressures and challenges. I went through a lot as a vulnerable girl and I vowed that I would not remain silent, that I would assist as many as I could. I would share my story, impact the community and empower the younger generation. The community I grew up in did a good job of raising me and nurtured in me a good heart. I therefore repay their kindness by giving back to the community.
John: How have your projects impacted the respective communities where you have implemented them.
Sophie: The events have not only impacted the society positively where young girls are now sharing their stories and are now prepared to fight for their future. Young boys have joined in lending a helping hand and fighting side by side with the girls. The old people do not feel excluded and are rejuvenated in knowing that they are still aa important part of the community. My life has also been impacted as well, the good thing about spreading love is you receive love back, I have learnt a lot, I have changed the way I see things and I have learnt to appreciate every little thing for everything matters.
John: What are some of the challenges you have faced, in trying to implement your program.
Sophie: Resources is the number one challenge and a major limiting factor. In most of the activities, I use some of my personal earnings and call for help from friends and family to assist but it is never enough. Another challenge is engaging already established organizations, as most of them neither don’t support nor act upon an issue brought about by an individual due to bureaucratic structures.
John: Any words of inspiration to young people out there who would like to engage in such worthwhile causes.
Sophie: I always say instead of you asking what the government or community is doing for you ask yourself what are you doing for the government or community. In this regard you don’t wait upon anyone to bring about the change you want to see but instead you end up being the change.