By Byron Mutingwende
She is very humble and soft-spoken. When one meets her, it’s difficult to guess a vast wealth of expertise she possesses and is ready to unleash to uplift other women. Her name is Gertrude Mandizvidza, an educationist from Norton.
Born on 21 January 1970 in a family of four girls in which she is the eldest, Gertrude attended Alabama Primary School in Kadoma from 1977 to 1983. She then proceeded to Townsend Girls High School in Bulawayo for her secondary education before proceeding to Speciss College in Harare where she attained a Diploma in Marketing.
“I was born in Kadoma in a farming area deep in the rural areas. We used to walk long distances to school, mostly barefooted. That did not deter my resolve to achieve greatness in life and help improve the welfare of the downtrodden women in a patriarchal society.
“I went to primary school with the help of neighbours, teachers and sometimes through offering my labour in the fields during school holidays in exchange for school fees. I was intelligent and everyone was eager to help me. When I passed primary school with flying colours, my mother who worked as a housemaid in Bulawayo, found a place for me at Townsend Girls High School,” Gertrude said.
Since her father did not believe in educating the girl child, he never chipped in when Gertrude had passed her Ordinary Level studies. With the help of her mother, she migrated from Bulawayo to Harare where she stayed with her uncles.
In 1993, she found work at Varichem Pharmaceuticals as a merchandiser. It is during that stint at Varichem that she acquired a driver’s licence and studied marketing at Speciss College after work. She reckons that getting a professional qualification was not easy since she used to walk from Harare CBD to Mbare. She could also walk from Market Square to Herbert Chitepo Speciss Campus.
She is a self-motivated achiever who regards obstacles as stepping-stones for success.
Empowered with a Diploma in Marketing, Gertrude joined Favco horticultural company from 1995 to 2005. In 2007, during the hyper-inflationary era, she moved to South Africa where she stayed until 2010.
“Upon my return in 2011, I opened a backyard crèche at my house in Norton using my savings from South Africa. The enrolment was phenomenal and within a short space of time, I bought a house to accommodate many early child development learners.
“The parents of the learners encouraged me to open a primary school. That was a cumbersome demand because I did not have sufficient funds to take up that initiative. One of the parents advised me to look for land under Chegutu Rural District Council. The private developers heard my plight and accepted my request to pay in instalments. That is how I eventually built David Mascott Country School that currently enrols 150 children. It is growing and I look forward to build more classroom blocks and also turn it into a boarding school,” Gertude said.
She leads a staff of six drivers, two administrators, 10 teachers, three cleaners and two grounds-men. In an interview with Spiked Online Media, Patience Meza, the Administrator of Good Care said she looks up to Gertude as a role model and intends to follow her footsteps so as to improve her own life.
Under the banner of Good Care, Gertrude has set aside a special day every month where learners bring their friends from the community to school and exchange presents with them. The invited children are also given food.
During the school holiday, Good Care Centre offers a place for women to be taught various skills like knitting, sewing, toy-making and are given skills on how to become early childhood development teachers and mentors.
Gertude gets invitations to officiate at various school functions, women development programmes and meetings.
In 2017, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce awarded the Women in Enterprise Conference Award Gertrude. The same year, Megafest honoured her as the runner-up female entrepreneur of the year.