Flora Fadzai Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
FOR the past 78 years many women have used Getrude Macintyre Hostel in Makokoba,
Bulawayo as a sanctuary, a safe and smart but very affordable place to hide their heads and keep away from predators that threaten their lives.
Known for accommodating women, who worked in low-density suburbs house helps back in the days, Getrude Macintyre Hostel is now accommodating women who find themselves homeless and stranded.
Saturday Chronicle crew visited the hostel and were greeted by purple jacaranda tree leaves which carpeted the entrance of the hostel’s yard. The flowers complemented the well-kept surrounding and a ground with fresh broom marks. No form of litter was on the ground, a sign that women were residing at the safe haven.
There was no doubt that the place accommodates only women, the orderliness told a tale. Female figures busily roamed around the hostel with each one minding her business.
One can feel the peace, love and togetherness of these women as they talk, respond, act and relate with each other. These are the very same factors that make them a family. They appreciate sharing a home that has accommodated them due to their sad and violent backgrounds.
The moment we step onto one of the corridors, we are greeted by huge smiles and warmth which makes us feel the comfort of being home. The love and kindness that these women have is not only shared among themselves but to others as well.
As we approach the dining hall entrance, which seems to be the entrance to the hostel, shiny floors which can easily make one hesitate to step on them, meet us.
Catherine Moyo (60), a former sex worker welcomes us. She found refuge at the home 36 years ago after her family rejected her.
“I used to be a sex worker. I was never talented with school work so that was the only way I could make money. After my parents passed on I had no one who was willing to accommodate me,” she said.
Moyo heard about the hostel and approached the matron and told her she had no place to stay.
She said: “Fortunately there was enough space for me to immediately move in. This is a very comfortable place to live in. Unlike other women who share rooms. I have my own room. I have all the privacy that I need.”
To rent a room at Gertrude Macintyre Hostel one has to part with ZW$600.
“There are no thieves in this hostel and we hardly get into fights as everyone minds their own business. We also respect each other’s privacy so you can hardly find anyone getting involved in other people’s business,” said Moyo.
Evelyn Dube (80) has been living in the hostel for the past 30 years. With a toothless smile, sitting on a chair on the foot of her single bed, Dube said her husband died in 1991 leaving her and children with no one to cater for them so she had to move to the urban areas to look for a job.
“I was a domestic worker at a house in Paddonhurst suburb. I moved to this hostel as it was the only place that was closer to my work place. When I first moved here I used to be a naughty young woman who used to drink alcohol and trouble the then matron,” she said.
Despite being naughty, Dube said she always followed the rules of not bringing a man to the compound.
“We used to get hot bathing water every day in the morning. The place was like a boarding school. Everyone was happy to finally experience the feeling of living in a boarding house. There were bicycles which we used to use when we were going to work. The area at the front of the hostel used to be always clean and we used it as our parking area. I used to get male visitors so we would hang out on the lawn,” said Dube.
She said the place has grown to be a home and even after retiring from her job she continued living in the place.
“God blessed me with female children only. I do not want to trouble them by asking them to take care of me since they are married.
“That is why I decided to continue living here as it was the only place where I could freely live,” she said.
“My children send me food every month, I hardly ever starve. I love it here and I am not planning on leaving anytime soon. This place is like a boarding school.
“You easily feel safe and at peace when you are here,” added the old woman. — @flora_siba
Article Source: The Chronicle