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Recently graduated from Africa University, Munyaradzi Samantha Mukanganise is a vibrant young woman passionate about changing the Maternal and Child Health realities of African women. She is the first in a family of three and recently started working on a research project on Maternal and Child health needs in Zimbabwean United Methodist Church institutions with United Methodist Women. This came about through a planning workshop at Africa University in February 2016 whereby the delegates present agreed to conduct research with United Methodist institutions. This, she believes, is the work of God as her passion is to create safe spaces for young girls who fall pregnant out of wedlock and are subject to criticism, ridicule and condemnation. Just as she was about to finish High School, she fell pregnant and faced serious challenges in dealing with her situation. Eventually, despite all the challenges, she managed to further her education and graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Sociology.

She believes an empowered woman has the ability to make proper, informed decisions about their health and that of the ones they will be carrying in their bellies. As such, for such to prevail, there has to be a supportive environment for pregnant mothers. This will also ensure a better chance for their children and thus result in the reduction of child mortality as a precondition to achieve MDG 5, which is to reduce child mortality. If women are empowered, they are able to find means of taking care of their children as well as their families and they can fight against abuse from the community as well as their partners. They will also know and be able to exercise their Sexual and Reproductive Health right to a family and the number of children they want by getting proper information on Family Planning and exercising it.

For her, when she has achieved such, she will be the happiest person in the world. As such, her ultimate dream in life is to create a safe space for pregnant women where they can get adequate healthcare and psychosocial support while at the same time they contribute to the community they live in by taking in other women. In addition, she would also love to start a feeding program for the young children born under unfortunate circumstances to avoid child mortality by malnutrition. In light of all the above, she would also like to embark on research on the social aspects of maternal and child health while at the same time doing projects that influence policy as well as alleviate the livelihoods of women and children in Africa’s under-privileged communities.

Due to her experiences, therefore, she would like to encourage other young women that it is possible to make something out of themselves even if they have to go through certain challenges. Realities can change, especially when pushed in the right direction and there is no such thing as an irredeemable mistake. We ought to use our weak moments as stepping stones towards achieving our goals!

GCORR is building the capacity of The United Methodist Church to be contextually relevant and to reach more people, younger people, and more diverse people as we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.