Author of ‘I Call on You Sis’ Talks Menstrual Health and Inspiration for Vasikana Project

Zvisinei Dzepasi Mamutse is an accomplished woman. She is a mother of three children aged 25, 20 and 14, a wife to Honest Mamutse, a student pursuing a PhD in nursing with a focus on global health, a nurse practitioner certified in addiction health and menstrual health, the founder of Vasikana Project, a published author of a journal for women (“I Call on You Sis”) and brand ambassador for Stayfree Africa.

I had a chance to catch up with her to find about who Zvisinei is as a woman and what drives her.

What was your upbringing like?

I grew up living what we jokingly termed a double life. During the weekdays, we were in Harare [in the suburb of] Marlborough tichiita zvechinozy (living and speaking in an affluent manner). Every Friday, we were packed on our way to Guruve, where our father had businesses and our other home. I appreciate this upbringing now (even though as a child it was something I resented) because it created the very rounded, humble and hardworking woman I am today.

What are you most passionate about and what drives you?

I am passionate about community service and empowering others. My late parents’ love of community service drives me to keep going. Keeping my mother’s legacy of empowering women and also the many incredible women on whose shoulders I am privileged to stand is another reason I keep going.

You are a health practitioner. What drove you to write your book?

Besides being a nurse practitioner, I am a lot of other things – a woman who is in contact with other women. Through friendships, work relationships, marriage, etc., you realize the strength of how our conversations impact us as women. We call on each other through every experience – in happiness, sorrow, celebrations, etc. We don’t realize how important our words matter in pushing dreams forward, for example, words like “keep going” and “go for it” are encouraging.

So, “I Call on You Sis” is a reminder of how importantly our conversations matter and to remind each other to be mindful of our response when called upon because our words can kill dreams, put out fires, etc. “I Call on You Sis” is a reminder to each other of how important our conversations are and proceeds from sales go to support our efforts with Vasikana Project.

Tell us more about the book, “I Call on You Sis,” and its impact on women.

I moved to the USA in 1998 with my husband, leaving the familiar circle of all the women I knew. I communicated a lot with my sisters, sisters-in-love, mother-in-love, aunts, etc. through phone calls, sharing experiences of life, good times, bad times, etc.

It was all shared on the phone from reflections with a mentor, Sonia Jackson Myles, on the things that have kept me going over the years. I realized just how these communications were empowering and rejuvenating in my resilience.

That’s how “I Call on You Sis” came about – because as women, we call on each other through a series of experiences: divorce, birth, miscarriages, loss, heartbreaks, celebrations, etc. The journal can impact a woman in that it has space in it for one to write and process emotions that they are feeling, especially these times where social distancing and isolation is encouraged. Journaling can be an outlet. The journal can be bought for your sister circle as a way to thank them and remind them of how important they are to you in your journey, as a thank you gift for bridesmaids, etc.

Sales from this journal impact our girls in that proceeds are going toward publication of a menstrual health educational booklet. It’s available on Amazon worldwide, Walmart, Barnes & Noble and Braughler Books in the USA. [There are] future plans to make it available in Zimbabwe. Clara Matonhodze edited the journal – two Zimbabwean women coming together too in sisterhood for others.

Why did you choose the medical field?

Growing up, I had no desire to be in the medical field. I saw myself in the beauty and fashion industry. But when I moved here, the medical field allowed me the flexibility I needed to be mom, student, wife etc. Now, it comes naturally, and it has given me opportunities to be more than I ever dreamed of.

Tell us more about Vasikana Project. What is the aim behind it?

Vasikana Project is aimed at ending period poverty through provision of safe, dignified ways to manage periods and menstrual health education. It was started from conversations with my sisters as a way to honour our mom who empowered women to make decisions on reproductive health by use of contraceptives in the 80s.

We are currently working with Menstrupedia (world leaders in menstrual health) on the publication of a comic book in Shona then Ndebele. This book will also be published in association with Stayfree Africa as well, coming on board to accompany the book with [their] product. It will eradicate barriers to menstrual health education, and it will be a tool put in place for generations to come. We are proud to share with you the cover!

What are some of the challenges you faced when starting business?

Challenges we faced at the beginning were not being taken seriously, being brushed aside as something that is not important, menstruation is still an embarrassing subject for most, financial challenges to execute the project to its fullest capacity.

What is your advice for women who would like to pursue your passion?

For anyone that wants to be a service leader, pick something that resonates with your heart. Everything else falls into place when you are doing something you love. The passion will drive you and keep you going. We all have a role to play. Don’t wait for an invitation to serve; just start. #Icallonyousis

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