People whose hearts have experienced the deepest heartache are often the most giving. Georgina Georgetta Shaban is the executive director of Community Care Trust, an organization that focuses on helping those in need and empowers women, orphans and youth by teaching them entrepreneurial skills.
Part of the reason Georgina has devoted so much of herself to the disadvantaged in her community is because of her aunt’s sacrifice many years ago.
“My aunt is somebody who always, always helped people; she still does today,” Georgina told The Weight She Carries. “She gives wholeheartedly.”
Georgina, who hails from Blantyre, Malawi, is a walking miracle. What had been a pleasant visit from her twin sister, who lived with their grandmother at the time, turned tragic.
“After her visit, I escorted my twin sister down the road to board a minibus,” Georgina said. “On my way back home, I was hit by a car as I crossed the street.”
Fortunately, Georgina, who was just 9 at the time, survived and was rushed to the hospital. Her right leg was shattered and required extensive treatment. Soon after being informed of the accident, Georgina’s mother began to complain of a severe headache that landed her in the same hospital later that day.
A series of tests were run, but the doctor couldn’t pinpoint what the problem was exactly. Still, Georgina’s mother continued to complain of a debilitating headache. After remaining in the hospital for a few months, she sadly passed away.
“I was still in the hospital when I was told the news. I never knew that my mother was in the same hospital I was in. All I knew was that she was sick. It was a very difficult time for me.”
Learning that her mother had been in such close proximity all along was utterly devastating for Georgina, who ended up staying in the hospital for an entire year. Recovery was slow and painful, but eventually, she was able to walk again.
The death of their mother meant a whole new life for Georgina and her three siblings.
“My aunt (mother’s youngest sister) took us all in. She took good care of us, but emotionally, it was hard. Yes, our aunt was now our mother, but she wasn’t the woman who gave birth to us.”
Hearing other children in the neighbourhood call for their mothers seemed to amplify the fact that they would have to live life without their mother. Ultimately, it was their aunt’s love that got Georgina and her siblings through those tough times.
Years later, Georgina founded Community Care Trust after coming to the realization that she had what it took to help those in need.
“I had worked for an organization called Centre for Development Management since completing high school. Whenever I went out to the field to inspect our agricultural projects or visited the people we offered our services to, I began to think, ‘I think I can do this on my own. I can inspire people and give to the needy on my own.”
Though the task proved to be easier said than done, Georgina was determined and established her organization in 2018. One of the major challenges she encountered while trying to get her organization off the ground was greed.
“People taking advantage of women,” she said. “When I approached some individuals and explained my idea to them, they saw it as an opportunity to use donated funds for their own gain. They saw me as a young woman they could take advantage of.”
Today, Community Care Trust is a lifesaver to many of the people it serves. The organization was awarded for winning the Stories of Change 2021/2022 competition and for empowering rural adolescent girls and teen mothers by Govjunction.
Georgina said there are many challenging days, but she has found a way to get through them.
“At times, you feel like giving up. When I’m having those kinds of thoughts, I don’t go about asking people. I kneel down and talk to God,” she said. “He helps me overcome challenges.”
One of the leading challenges the organization faces is lack of funding, particularly for a program she started in February called Ladies Power Teen Club.
“It accommodates underprivileged girls and teen mothers,” she said. “I teach them entrepreneurship skills such as tailoring and baking. I also offer sessions on gender-based violence, hygiene and entrepreneurship. I have been able to achieve some objectives, but not all due to limited resources.”
Strengthening one’s community is something Georgina says everyone should aim for. All it takes is a willing heart.
“Always do what your heart tells you at that time,” she said. “If your heart is willing to do it, you can do something.”
Vimbai E. is a writer, journalist, ghostwriter and the founder of The Weight She Carries. With hundreds of articles publishing online, in print and for broadcast, her love of language and storytelling shines through every piece of writing that bears her name.