David Kandondo of Mkota ward A in Mudzi distict is a skilled carpenter who learnt the trade from his late father. For many years he had been working in Harare for a well renowned furniture manufacturing firm and had been able to make a decent living from his skills.
However, the economic downturn made it impossible to fend for his family as the furniture manufacturing firm he was working for had to downscale operation to a point where employees went unpaid for several months. Unable to meet his monthly rental in Harare or support his family back at home, David relocated back to the village of his birth.
In 2015 he attended an ECLF Conflict Prevention Management Resolution and Transformation workshop which gave him hope as the facilitators spoke of how people could change their destiny by tapping into their inherent skills and putting them to use in their local communities among other critical subjects. Following this workshop David started offering furniture repair services to community members he met as the Local Peace Committee (of which he is a member) went about conducting community awareness sessions.
It was not until after attending an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) workshop in 2017 that David realized that his skills could be put to wider use. During the ADR workshop facilitators made reference to community cohesion initiatives that could help bring community members together. At an LPC meeting after the ADR workshop David suggested to LPC members that he could train them in carpentry skills and these skills could be put to use in improving the livelihoods of those trained. What began as just a capacity building exercise for community and LPC members has grown into a thriving carpentry business which has improved the livelihoods of the eight LPC members involved.
The carpentry initiative has not only brought community members together but has attracted the youth who are gaining skills and spending time in positive constructive pursuits. This has helped bring peace to a number of families where the youth were idle and notorious for getting involved in drunken pursuits which created disputes between them and their parents.
With a steady stream of income coming from the sale of various products, the carpentry initiative has also brought peace to a number of households where conflict would arise from a lack of basic necessities.
As community and LPC members work at the carpentry project discussions are held on various issues affecting families and the community as whole providing a platform for sharing of challenges and an opportunity to receive advice on how to tackle challenges and disputes in a peaceable manner. This has helped create a sense of unity among community members and source of livelihood using locally available materials such as the tree which is widely available in the ward. This one initiative has helped give birth to similar initiatives, based on community priorities and available resources, at all the ward’s five centers.
ECLFs CPMRT and ADR workshops comprises of sessions where the LPCs are capacitated on the importance of community cohesion initiatives as approaches to build relationships and cohesion amongst community members.