The Capricorn Mobile United Club (or CMU Club for short) convened on 14 April for the first of their two workshops in 2014. The women’s club, which is run approximately along the lines of the Women’s Institute, provides a variety of skills training and self-improvement projects for rural women . The Club was founded in 1968 by Lady Jennifer Plunkett, a well-known local resident and philanthropist. Participating members come from communities in Chimanimani and surrounding districts as far afield as Birchenough Bridge and Mutambara. There are currently thirteen district members.
Professional trainers, sponsored by Lady Plunkett, instruct the women in needlework, knitting, basketry, weaving and domestic science among other crafts. Each member community sends one or two representatives for the skills training workshops, and each woman then returns to her village to pass on the skills learned. In April and August each year, CMU Club representatives convene at Heaven Mountain Lodge in Chimanimani for a group workshop where training is given, progress is discussed and decisions made on future projects. There is also a competition where previous set-work pieces of craft work are exhibited for judging by a local panel. Competition is fierce for the prestige of winning one of the modest prizes, and afterwards, the items are proudly offered for sale.
The Club supervisor, Mrs B Muyambo, says the members have to cover the costs of all materials used. However the Club does own two hand-cranked Singer sewing machines which are shared amongst all members. The women are hoping one day to receive skills training in commercial poultry and goat keeping, but sponsorship funds are limited and start-up costs are too high. Any extra assistance would be very much appreciated by these determined and dedicated women.