Think of PLEDGE 25 CLUB as a collaboration between the nation’s blood services and its youth.
A mature Pledge 25 Club will have branches and sub-branches across the country, so that meeting is made easy for members.
Pledge 25 Club members will elect club officials from their number. These individuals will run the club but also liaise with the blood service authorities to ensure that club members are scheduled to give blood at times of greatest need. For example, when schools are shut, or during holidays or festivals when blood stocks may run low.
Most people will join a Pledge 25 Club soon after leaving school, when they begin work or attend university. Joining will generally involve a formal pledge to give 25 units of blood before the age of 30 (although some clubs may have variations on this number). Of course, any blood donated as a younger student can be credited to your pledge.
Upon joining a club - as well as committing to donate blood personally and to lead a healthy lifestyle to keep patients safe - there will be many opportunities to help organise events and involve yourself in other ways.
Members find they build confidence, acquire new skills …
and form new, life-long friendships.
I’m so thankful for my discovery of the Pledge 25 Club because it changed what blood donation meant to me. It mattered more and became part of who I was as I became more and more involved with my club in Zimbabwe.
So, in 2009, I was devastated when I lost my anemic mother due to an empty blood bank. This changed my mind even further. It was a sad experience and now the need for blood had a face, a story behind it…the memory of one of the most important women in my life; my mother.
My blood donation journey didn’t begin after we buried my mother. I had begun donating six years prior. Her death did, however, ignite a passion in me to prevent other children from experiencing the pain of losing a loved one because there simply wasn’t blood.
The old saying ‘you can be near the church, but very far away from God’ seems very fitting for my life as a blood donor.
My blood donation journey began on the 10th of June, 2003. I was 16 years old and donated at the urging of my friend and classmate who was a peer promoter and blood donor. Prior to that I had heard about blood donation from my uncle, Peter Mukadzambo – a blood donor recruiter. Years later, my brother, Tinashe Mukadzambo, shared his stories of blood donation and ‘the Club’.
After my first donation I discovered giving blood was such a pleasurable experience. The prick of the needle, which is the part I had been afraid of most, was not as painful as the injections we would get when we fall sick. The look at my blood pack, and the knowledge that it was going to save a life gave me a feeling of pleasure and pride. I vowed to continue with this heroic action, as long as I got the opportunity and I did each time the blood donation team visited our school.
In 2005 during my long holiday awaiting O level results, I learnt about Pledge 25 Club through a neighbour. After attending one of the Pledge 25 Club meetings, I decided to be a full-time volunteer, helping with club compiling, filing and the communication of Club-related issues. By the third meeting my passion for Pledge 25’s purpose had grown so I helped with the formation of Club cells. In 2006, I was selected as the secretary for zone Dzivarasekwa and in 2007 I became the zone Dzivarasekwa chairperson. By 2008 I became the Harare Branch Chairperson and for three consecutive years (2009-2012) I served as the Secretary General of Pledge 25 Club Zimbabwe.
EMPOWERING YOUNG WOMEN TO CHANGE THE WORLD
Before becoming club secretary general, I used to tag along with the Customer Relations Officers when they visited the blood donor collection sites such as schools, churches and community groups. Then one day I volunteered to speak to girls at Langham Girls High School and surprised them with a brilliant question and answer session. That is when I discovered my hidden skills in coaching the youth, particularly female children.
Addressing high school pupils
I was challenged when I learnt that few ladies fulfill their pledge. I concluded that the major reason women do not make it to 25 donations is because of an unsupportive partner who did not understand the importance of blood donation. I saw this countless times, even among friends, including a fellow office bearer who initially made the commitment but stopped when her boyfriend, who was not a blood donor, was not comfortable with her attending youth functions. He asked her to choose between him and the Club, and for my friend the boyfriend carried the day. She stopped after just four donations.
I am blessed to have formed a relationship with Liberty Chimedza who supported me all the way. Before we met, Liberty had donated once or twice for refreshments, but when he discovered my passion and heard my story he opted to become a regular blood donor. I am proud to say I made it to 25 donations because of him and by then he had already donated twenty times!
Not only did I fulfill my pledge, I was able to accomplish my dream of doing so before Liberty and I were married – coincidentally the day before. I gave my 25th donation on August 4, 2014 and attended the 25th award ceremony where I received my treasured certificate and plaque on the eve of my wedding day, the 29th of August.
Nomusa and Liberty Nomusa’s pledge certificate and shield.
As long as I am eligible to donate, NBSZ is assured of my unit: in fact they will be two on each visit! I also encourage other young women to become blood donors and be part of this wonderful family of life-savers.
When I started donating blood it was in 1993 and I was in Form 5 at Harare High School. I had heard about lives being lost in hospitals because there was no blood for transfusion. My friends and I decided to help in the small way we could. In 1994 NBTS and DANIDA (a Danish non-governmental organisation) through a women called Patricia Rudd, requested the school administration to select two student blood donors who would help with the promotion of blood donation to fellow students at the school. That is when I and a girl called Rudo Matiki were chosen to join a Peer Promoters Programme that involved 10 schools in Harare.
Funded by DANIDA and facilitated by NBTS we would meet very often to discuss how best we can promote blood donation in our respective schools. HIV was also at its peak and posing a great threat to life and blood safety in Zimbabwe. So, naturally leading a low risk lifestyle was one of the topics we would always discuss. Back at school we would encourage fellow students to donate blood and answer their questions to the best of our knowledge. When the blood donation team visited for blood collection, if we were free we would help them with setting up before moving to call other students for donation. We would also make sure the room to be used for blood donation was clean before and after the blood donation exercise.
The Pledge 25 Club founding members circa 1995. Standing from left, Rudo Matiki,
Chido Chitsatse, Ernst Butawo, Rodreck Manzungu, Sunday Chibvongodze and James.
Seated from left, Josiah Mushonga, Shalom Mkwakwami, and Weston Chidzinga.
It was during one of our meetings in the third school term of 1994 that we realised the happy fun-loving and life-saving family we had become would soon disintegrate when we left school at the end of the year. This is when we thought of forming a club of blood donors who had left school. After some brainstorming sessions we agreed that a member should join by pledging to donate at least 25 units of safe blood during their lifetime. To do this, the member should also promise to lead a safe lifestyle and refrain from practices that would risk the safety of their blood. We then agreed to call the club the Pledge 25 Club. We formed a committee, chaired by Shalom Mkwkwami from Girls High. She was the first club President. I replaced her as President two years later.
We set aside a day to meet and donate as well as recruit new members leaving school into the club. In consultation with NBTS we decided to set this day on the first Saturday after schools close and called it Youth Donors’ Day. To invite members to this function we would use the home addresses the outgoing students would have given us. Using what we called Postal Teams we would hand deliver invitation letters moving from door to door. I still remember for every letter delivered the postal team member would get 30c. There were no mobile phones then and this method of sending messages gave us a chance of interacting with the parents, explaining the club and gaining their trust. It also made donors in the same residential area know each other and form groups of like-minded out-of-school youths.
Then something that further opened my eyes on the need to donate blood happened in 1998. All along I had thought our blood benefited accident victims, maternal and a few other cases, until our club had a meeting with a person with a condition called hemophilia. This, I learnt, was a condition whereby blood doesn’t clot normally because of insufficient clotting factors. Life threatening bleeding would happen internally, especially in the joints where it would be visible through swellings. The man explained that from the blood we donated a protein or clotting factor, called Factor 8, would be processed to help hemophiliacs to stop bleeding. I vividly remembered the man shedding tears and expressing gratitude to our club for coming up with the idea that would save more people like him. From that day I vowed to continue donating and share my blood and products from it with such people in need.
I fulfilled my pledge of 25 donations in 2002 and got honoured with a certificate and shield at a colourful NBTS Annual General Meeting. After graduating I did not look back. Giving blood was now part of me and each time I was due I would visit the NBTS clinic to donate. In 2010 I received my 50th Donation award and am looking forward to receiving my 75th donation award this June of 2018. My target is to reach 100 donations by 2025.
I am now a professional and happy family man, married with three children. I am grateful to the Pledge 25 Club because through its low-risk lifestyle values I was able to sail through the turbulent era of HIV and AIDS where most of my age-mates succumbed. As I saved other people’s lives, the clubs’ values were also saving mine.