The Sunday Mail
FOR mere mortals; near death experiences often lead one to pause, self-introspect and make life-altering decisions.
But then, Ms Bernice Bore (pictured here holding a menstural cup) is not your ordinary survivor.
Today, the 30-year-old is founder of Munondida Foundation — a non-profit organisation that educates teenage girls on various sexual and reproductive health issues as well as help economically capacitate underprivileged women in Nyanga.
Her work mostly entails creating platforms for sexual and reproductive health conversations, handing out sanitary wear and helping women start income-generating projects.
But Ms Bore’s journey has not been smooth sailing.
She has faced life-threatening moments that made her reach a hard decision, which led her to where she is today.
Ms Bore is a survivor of an abusive two-year marriage, which she got into after falling pregnant at the age of 18.
Although she views her experiences as a source of strength, talking about them brings back unpleasant memories that made her tear up during an interview last week
Becoming a teen mom
What started as an innocent platonic friendship with a fellow Upper Six student at Tynwald High School back in 2008 was to later almost become her demise.
When she joined the school to begin her Advanced Level education, “ill-fate” drew her to this volleyball player (name withheld) whom she immediately concluded was easy to talk to and confide in.
“I had issues which at that age I felt were difficult to talk about at home because it was a strict environment, as such I would talk to this guy. I often went to his apartment in the Avenues area in Harare for educational discussions with other students as we were preparing for final examinations,” Ms Bore narrated.
This young man lived alone, she added.
During the “educational discussions”, one thing led to the another until the young woman discovered she was pregnant, before getting married to the young man who was just a year older than her.
As if the reprimand from parents, expulsion from school, stigma from church and society was not enough, Ms Bore’s real hell-on-earth experience was yet to come.
After her mother-in-law and sister-in-law decided to stay with them, her husband suddenly became abusive.
“He would come home drunk, brew a storm in a tea-cup to find a reason to beat me up,” recounts Ms Bore.
“My mother-in-law and sister-in-law would join in the fight ‘reprimanding’ me for ‘failing’ in my wifely duties.
“The abuse went beyond control. My eyes were always swollen with tears. At times, my sister-in-law forced me to clean her menstrual mess.”
Emotionally bruised and battered, Ms Bore became a regular complainant at the police station.
But because of the nature of most traditional marriages where men are usually the sole providers for the family, she would find herself at the police station, again, withdrawing her assault cases.
But there was a day the abused young woman almost died.
That was the turning point in her life.
“There is a day when I almost died. We used to stay on the fifth floor of a flat. We were fighting and my husband pushed me over the balcony,” said Ms Bore.
“Miraculously, I managed to hold onto something and did not fall to the ground before finding my way up. That was how I survived the fall. That was the day I decided to go back home to my parents.”
Indeed, she instantly packed her bags and left.
Establishing Munondida Foundation
Life continued to bring its challenges to the young woman.
Ms Bore plunged into a six-month depression as she grappled with the realities of being a single, unemployed mother at the age of 20.
“I watched my son grow, from crawling to walking, in a short space of time. He looked happy and healthy and I said to myself; ‘If my son is this happy, despite my challenges, I cannot be stuck in a rut, it’s time I get up and do something with my life’,” she said.
At first, Ms Bore returned to her former high school to teach girls about sexual and reproductive health issues.
She then began more of such educative talks in other schools and community.
In 2016, she established Munondida Foundation after meeting a local university professor who commended her for the work she was doing in schools.
So far, Munondida Foundation has managed to partner with the Zion Foundation as well as Runa Cups, an American organisation that manufactures reusable menstrual cups.
Ms Bore has been donating the reusable menstrual cups to under-privileged girls.
She has also started an onion puree making project for a group of women in Nyanga.
Munondida Foundation director, Mr Nqobizitha Nyakunu, told The Sunday Mail that the foundation’s work was centred on Bore’s life experiences.
“The Munondida Foundation is based on her life experiences; as a teenage mom and everything she went through to today. She realised, maybe, she could help other women who were going through similar situations,” said Mr Nyakunu.
Ms Bore’s wish is to construct a women’s centre in Nyanga to promote sustainable livelihoods projects.