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Hannah O’Riordan

ZET Blog: We’re in the news!

Earlier this year, Yorkshire Times, an exciting local online newspaper, did a feature on ZET. You can read it on their website in its full glory (http://yorkshiretimes.co.uk/#From-A-to-Z–how-a-Leeds-charity-is-educating-the-women-of-Zimbabwe) or catch it below:

It’s a time of upheaval and change for the African country, but a Leeds charity has set firm plans for the future of young women in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe Educational Trust (ZET) based just outside Leeds city centre was founded by resident Vuli Mkandla and provides funding for education for some of the most vulnerable women in Zimbabwe.

Born in Zimbabwe but resident in Leeds for forty years, Vuli originally set up the organisation to support disadvantaged Zimbabweans to access education in the UK.

Now the Trust is supporting young women to access training and education in their own surroundings.

Hannah O’Riordan, Operations Manager at ZET said: “”We are in essence a charity supporting individuals into education as a route out of poverty.

“Though our work has shifted to projects based in Zimbabwe, we continue to be supported by all three Leeds universities, as well as a number of local businesses, companies, schools, churches, charities and patrons – so our local presence is still very much felt.

“Our current work focuses on access to education and human rights, women and girls empowerment, and tackling the effects of poverty and climate change, through working with grassroots partners in Zimbabwe and supporting through fundraising, awareness-raising and outreach work here in Leeds.”

One of ZET’s projects is funding Rafiki, a training and business education programme for young women in Zimbabwe. The centre offers eight month courses for women aged between 17 and 25.

On average two women apply for each place of which there are only 60.

All are vulnerable, most have been abused.

Director of Rafiki, Hildah Mahachi told us how the programme changes the lives of women who have suffered indescribably.

“Patricia is one of the stories you will have read on our website, and she basically used the sewing and cooking skills she learnt at Rafiki to start her own business, designing and making her own clothes and products, baking and catering, and planning and running weddings and functions.

“First and for most, Rafiki gave me hope of life,” Patricia said.

“This is something that I did not have before I came to Rafiki. My future was blank all I know is that I was waiting for a man to marry me.

“Rafiki changed me from a nobody to somebody through giving me knowledge and equipping me with various skills.
I was given hope when I was hopeless. I looked down on myself but this has since changed following training. I now motivate other girls to see bright futures ahead of them even if their current situations seem hopeless.”

“Before the new president came in office I was losing hope… prices have been rising up and it has been difficult to access cash of which in my line of work I use cash to buy everything for business.

“I am hoping that with the change of leadership things will change for better so that my business can continue to run in a normal way. My hope is that positive change in the country will also bring positive change to my business.”

Hilda continues:”Beatrice came to Rafiki unemployed and uneducated with the dream of being a flight attendant, and used the skills she learned at Rafiki to gain a job and save up money to do flight attendant training”.

She now works for an airline.

“The Rafiki training gave me a chance of a lifetime. It was my stepping stone,” says Beatrice.

“I am an independent woman because I am now working and can take of myself and my family.

“I take care of my mother and have managed to put electricity in our house in Epworth, something that I could never have done if I was unemployed.

“My family is very proud of me! I know that besides me, Rafiki has transformed many other girls’ lives.

“I also know that everyone that has given to Rafiki has contributed to changing lives. Thank you Rafiki supporters !!!! My life will never be the same.”

Monica is an orphan raised in a children’s home. Her aspiration was to become a teacher.

She trained in primary school teaching at Rafiki and has used this to work in schools. Now she uses this salary to enrol for a university diploma in teaching.

“The trust has helped me grow physically and spiritually,” said Monica.

“I am working well and trying to develop myself more in every way I can academically.

“The situation in Zimbabwe is making it a bit difficult because you don’t get to be paid your proper salary which affects some areas in my life but I’m happy for now”.

Hilda told us: “Former Rafiki students are optimistic that the change in political leadership will also filter into other facets of the economy.

“They feel that Zimbabwe has potential to bounce back to its former glory, thereby providing opportunities for further development. This is a hope that continues to burn within our hearts at Rafiki and the country at large.

“As for the new girls they are grateful for the opportunity given them to improve their lives and change their misfortunes. Many say they had come to the end of the rope. They appreciate the gap that Rafiki covers for the girl child.

“This the second chance that their family members could not give them.”

Hannah continued and explained more of the support ZET provides.

“Our work is more important now than ever. Another of our partners, Trinity Project, is largely focused on supporting orphaned and vulnerable children, but also does work to provide vulnerable or marginalised women with legal support and advice so that they can fully claim their socioeconomic and civil rights.

“For example, Trinity supported a young women called Thembi who was being raped and abused by her uncle, to take him to court and win legal custody of her house. She had rightfully inherited it but then he had moved in and taken ownership of it ‘as payment for looking after her’.

“Trinity supports vulnerable women to access healthcare, education, social services and their legal entitlements by supporting them with advice, advocating on their behalf to courts, police and other officials, and by working with families and communities to break down the barriers to women’s empowerment.

“At home, the increased interest in Zimbabwe allows this often neglected and misunderstood country to receive much needed attention, and we hope to capitalise on this momentum to mobilise funds and awareness towards our work.”

 

Written by Scout Beck, Features Writer Yorkshire Times


ZET Blog: Site Visit 2018

March was an exciting month for the Zimbabwe Educational Trust team, as two of our trustees and our Operations Manager flew out to Zimbabwe to visit each of our partner projects: so that we could learn more about their work, the communities they work in, and plan for the future at this exciting and dynamic time for Zimbabwe.

 

Our trip began in Bulawayo, where we met with Trinity Project and were able to see some of the exciting work they are doing on birth registration and child protection in the city and surrounding rural areas. This included visiting some of the families who Trinity have helped through complicated birth registration cases.

One such case was Kimberley, a young girl who had been abandoned by her parents due to her severe disabilities. This made it very difficult for her grandmother to get her registered, which prevented Kimberley from accessing the education and specialist healthcare that she so desperately needs. Trinity have supported the family with funds towards groceries and healthcare, a wheelchair which enables Kimberley to be more active and mobiles, and makes caring for her much easier for her grandmother, and support through every step of the registration process. At the time we visited, Kimberley had just got the final documents she needed, and should be registered within the next few weeks.

We also got the chance to visit some of the Kids Clubs Trinity run in several districts. These are clubs where children have the chance to play and have fun (something they may not always have the opportunity for in their daily lives), but also learn about their rights and entitlements, and be taught empowering syllabuses. For example, we visited one workshop on Gender Based Violence for teenage girls, and one on child abuse and the right to education for a mixed group of young children.

As well as visiting some of the birth registration and community interventions that ZET have been supporting Trinity with for the last five years, we also got an exciting look into Trinity’s plan for the next five – seeing first-hand the exciting ways this organisation is expanding and developing. The major change is that Trinity is adopting a wider approach towards the entirety of child protection.

Birth registration is like the first step on a ladder towards a child’s empowerment. You first need this, to be able to access all the other steps, like education, healthcare, social security and legal protections. However, although it’s an essential step, it is only the first one. Trinity wants to protect children right the way through, and this involves tackling other barriers to child empowerment. For this reason, Trinity is now launching interventions that look at child abuse, child marriage, and other child protection issues. The most pioneering of these is economic strengthening projects – because parents need enough money to put food on the table, and send their children to schools and hospitals, if they are going to effectively protect their children’s rights. As part of this expansion, we visited some of the authorities Trinity is working with, such as local councillors, village heads and the Department of Social Services, and also visited some of these projects, such as income-generating community gardens. It is clearly a very exciting time for Trinity Project, and ZET were thrilled to see the project developing and helping so many people.

 

The next week, we travelled up to Harare to visit our other partners. The first, Rafiki Girls Centre, were please to show us round the centre, which is currently teaching two cohorts of students – one in the first stage of the course and learning basic transferrable life skills, and the other in the second stage training in specific vocational courses such as catering or nursing. We were lucky enough to be served a delicious lunch by the catering class, many of whom have unsurprisingly already been snapped up for employment by the most exclusive hotels in Harare when they graduate! Rafiki also showed us some of the products crafted by the students on the Design course, featuring gorgeous Zimbabwean designs and patterns.

 

We then spent the afternoon talking to students and graduates about their experiences with the centre: what they had learned, what their lives were like before, and how they benefitted from the training. One word came up time and time again – hope. Every student resoundingly agreed that despite their personal circumstances, they felt dejected and out of luck before they came to Rafiki, and the education they received helped them to feel hopeful again. And rightly so, as almost 90% of graduates go onto receive further education or employment after the training. It was inspirational to hear all these personal testimonies.

 

It was also an exciting time for Rafiki, who have just recently expanded to double the centre’s capacity. They have accommodated the increased demands on teachers and resources incredibly, and it was a privilege to see so many more women – particularly young struggling single mothers, who have been the main social group the expansion was opened up to – benefitting from the transformational opportunity of Rafiki training.

 

Finally, we visited Foundations for Farming, and walked round their expansive grounds to see first-hand the incredible impact of their sustainable and efficient farming methods – including hectares of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs, and maize plots up to seven foot tall! All this is grown without intensive gardening or machinery, without pesticides, sprays or enhancers, and without advanced water irrigation systems. The methods they use could be rolled out to any community or home-based farmer, for a low-cost low-effort approach with high yields so it was just unbelievable to see how effective it could be.

We also visited a school ZET has been funding since 2015, to see how their land plot and nutritional garden were coming along. It was great to see that St John’s Primary School were clearly still engaged with Foundations for Farming, were still implementing their methods – with good results! Not only had students had been able to practice the national agricultural curriculum in successful gardens, but the gardens had been so efficient that the school was able to introduce a food aid programme, ensuring that every child would have access to one school meal a day. This means they can be sure children are well-fed enough to concentrate and get the most out of their education, so it was very exciting to see the full benefits of the garden being enjoyed.

 

Overall, the site visit to our partners in Zimbabwe was very informative – helping us to learn more about our partners and they work they are doing, but also to get to meet with some of the individuals, schools and communities we have been working with for the last five years and see for ourselves the incredible impact ZET is having, working together for education and prosperity in Zimbabwe.

If you would like to find out more about the visit, please do get in touch with us on 0113 386 2257 or contact@zimbabweeducationaltrust.org.uk. If you would like to support our partners as they expand and continue to do fantastic work on the ground, you can do so at www.zimbabweeducationaltrust.org.uk/support-us.

 

All the best,

The ZET Team


ZET Blog: Community Outreach

This article outlines some of the personal stories of individuals reached and supported by Trinity Project through their community outreach channels, such as workshops in local communities, mobile office drop ins and legal advice clinics, and visiting homes and community centres. It shows some of the key barriers Trinity is facing surrounding registration, the value of their work supporting the most vulnerable, and the importance of localising this to individuals and communities. Last year, ZET made this possible by covering all transport costs, and we hope to do this and more in 2018.

The Story of… Tariro

Early birth registration is a misunderstood and neglected issue in Zimbabwe, despite being a human right recognised in national and international law. A birth certificate in most societies is a legal document that gives identity to a child and automatically bestows a number of rights such as the right to healthcare, education, property ownership, nationality and formal employment.

Birth registration is also essential for national planning. Birth registration helps authorities deliver essential services easily. According to UNICEF, neglect of civil registration has been identified as the most critical failure of development. It is clear that without vital statistics like number of births per year we cannot monitor progress towards our development. In Bulawayo for example a number of births have not been registered for various reasons. This can affect our development as we cannot allocate vital services and resources to people accurately.

Tariro is an unregistered 14-year-old orphan who lives with her maternal aunt, Portia. Portia is an unemployed widow and is HIV positive, so she struggles to put food on the table or care for her dependents. Tariro started school late due to a long period of sickness as a child, but found it extremely difficult when she joined school due to pressures at home and being bullied by other students. Eventually she was forced to drop out, and now supports her aunt by running small paid errands for other community members – perceiving no other options for her circumstance.

However, if she had been registered, Tariro would have been entitled to some sort of educational grant and welfare. This tragic case demonstrates the importance of obtaining a birth certification to improve and enrich your life.

The Story of… Constance

Zimbabwe is governed by patriarchal cultural values which direct behaviour and attitudes. For example, men are regarded as the head of households, and children expected to take their names. This means that in instances where the father is absent or not supportive of registration, mothers can often hold off from registering children in their own names out of fear of cultural stigma, and leave the children unregistered until the father returns or proffers use of his surname.

Officers have encountered countless cases with this issue being the cause of birth registration delay. One such case is Constance Sibanda, who has two children Michael (aged 8) and Nomazulu (aged 5). Constance believes that registering the children in her own surname is a taboo, and she will be disadvantaging them as the ancestors would turn their backs on them. She thinks that, it is best to try and persuade the father to come and register the children and that eventually she will be successful as they would realize their duty.

However, while she waits around, Michael, and Nomazulu remain aliens in their own country and as such cannot access the benefits of being citizens. If anything happens to Constance, the children will be left vulnerable and may not be able to access their inheritance. Many parents want their children to conform to cultural expectations ad rules, so that they may be protected and live good lives, but in this bid, they fail to protect them in the most basic of situations such as securing their future through proper documentation. Families often choose traditionally correct practices over legally correct practices, leaving their children vulnerable.

Trinity’s advice in this case is to secure your child and ensure that they receive what is rightfully theirs through legal registration. If the father later decides to be part of the child’s life, he can undergo the process of changing the surname, at a fee which he will be responsible to pay.

The Story of… Samantha

Samantha was a fifteen-year-old girl from rural Matabeleland. She was an orphan and lived in a very poor village where having three meals a day was a rare privilege. Everyone in the village wanted a way out of their poverty. Samantha was taken to the orphanage together with her other friends, which they all hated. They ran away from the orphanage and went to the city to search for jobs. They were employed in different places and so separated. Samantha worked as a maid for a widow, who ill-treated and overworked Samantha, whilst paying her with less and less food and wages.

She thought of leaving the job, deciding that being a street kid was better and living instead under a bridge with other street kids. She was the only girl in a group of older boys; here she was subjected to ongoing abuse and sexual assault and denied access to basic supplies including food, clothes, blankets and sanitary wear.

One day she was found under the bridge by a woman named Isabel, who took her in, clothed her and fed her. In time, Isabel adopted Samantha, funded her through the registration process, and enrolled her in education. Samantha excelled in school, and went on to study Law at university. As an adult, Samantha aims to pay forward this vital help, and has opened her own orphanage to care for vulnerable children and street kids, based off memories of her own experience. This is how she was discovered by Trinity Project, who often receive case referrals of local orphans.

All of these stories reveal the many opportunities made available to children only once they are registered and the many complexities in registering orphaned and vulnerable children. We are very grateful to Trinity Project staff for all their work in local communities out in the field, gathering these interesting and difficult stories and supporting people in vital need.

Written by Trinity Project Officers
Edited by Privilege Sibanda (Trinity Project) and Hannah O’Riordan (ZET)


ZET Blog: Reaching the Unreached

Foundations for Farming has impacted some of the most remote communities in Zimbabwe. These communities are either very remote or vulnerable as a result of high levels of poverty, and are not very well known in Zimbabwe or beyond. From each of these communities 30 participants were selected to attend a two week training course at Foundations for Farming in 2017. These 60 participants were selected with the hope that they would return to their communities with their new found knowledge and skills acquired during the training, and become pioneers of Conservation Agriculture in their communities. It was exciting to see the transformation of people’s ideologies in relation to farming and the importance of organics in farming, and has been successful in spreading the message and methods of Foundations for Farming amongst remote and unreached communities. In this article, we would like to share the stories and testimonies of these communities:

The Tsholotsho Community / The San People

The San people are a tribe of Africans who have lived nomadically within Southern Africa for many decades. With a population of around 2,500 in Zimbabwe, our group is located in the area of Tsholotsho close to the border of Botswana. Originally hunters and gatherers, this community has been faced with varying challenges in maintaining their livelihoods and integrating into the surrounding communities. For most, this training was a time filled with completely new experiences. It was the first time they had left their community; the first time they had travelled on a bus and the first time they had visited the capital city, Harare. They arrived with the clothes on their back and were welcomed by our hospitality staff with warm beds and new attire.

After the two week training, individuals in the group testified to the love and mercy they had experienced here at Foundations. One man said, “You treat us the same.” A truly powerful statement coming from one of Zimbabwe’s most marginalized communities. As all but one were illiterate, the group most benefited from the basic farming technology performed during the practical’s. Although their concentration was limited, as many had never sat in a classroom before, they managed to glean valuable knowledge from the hands on activities in the gardens and fields. Our basic training “Eating the Elephant” and our Sweet Potato demonstrations were definitely a hit.

One trainee thanked the team by saying that they were “Going back more beautiful” from their stay in Harare. Another emphasized the importance of unity, a trait he had learned in the leadership segment.

The Bindura Community

To call this group the Bindura ‘ladies’ is a little unfair, after all, there were two men. It’s just that the background stories from most of the women are so powerfully lodged in our hearts it’s difficult to stop them from floating to the foreground.

Stories of child brides forced into marriages with older men, leading to relationships littered with abuse and neglect of both wife and children. Although most of these women are ‘married’ – in reality they are widows of a customary lifestyle. They do not have live in husbands. Instead, several of them watch from a distance as their spouses enter a ‘Small House’ each evening … the term given for where Africa’s mistresses are housed in return for sexual favours.

Hungry and ragged children linger in the doorway of a dilapidated shack as they watch their father return ‘home’ each evening across the way – where he stays most of the time with another woman and the progeny of their love nest. In the meantime their mother (his wife), hovers over a little paraffin stove preparing the meagre meal she has managed to scrape together. Stuffing her pain and anger, she pulls her eyes away from the sight of him to concentrate on the task at hand. A sad, but all too familiar picture of Africa.

Some of the women we trained shared aspects of this difficult lifestyle and background with us, including the following excerpts:

“I was married at fifteen. My husband was continually unfaithful and we divorced. I married again, but my second husband has been jailed for raping his daughter, so I am now living with my parents.”

“I did not go to school for long because I had to look after my siblings. Later, I was forced into a child marriage with an older man. He now has a small house. I stay alone with our three children.”

“One of the ladies asked for the group to pray for her as her heart was broken. The following were her words; “My husband is not faithful, he is not satisfied with me, I am so confused, I don’t know what to do – but being here at FfF has helped very much.”

“I was married and gave my husband three daughters but he wanted a son. He took a small house, and the woman there has now given him a baby boy. Please pray for me, my heart aches with pain, he lives next door while I am trying to bring up our daughters alone.”

“When my husband left us and went away with his girlfriend it broke me. I started asking myself a lot of questions. What’s wrong with me? Now, being a single mother is the most difficult thing on earth, especially knowing that my husband is with someone else. He left us when his children needed him most.”

Thank you for reading, and supporting our work with these extremely vulnerable communities.

Written by Kuda Kutesera, Foundations for Farming
Edited by Hannah O’Riordan, ZET


ZET Blog: How to Apply for Funding from a Major Donor

The following article first appeared on Charity Choice’s blog, The Fundraiser, which you can visit here: http://www.charitychoice.co.uk/the-fundraiser/how-to-apply-for-funding-from-a-major-donor/719

Applying for large amounts of funding can be daunting. You can know your project inside out and have successful experience applying to plenty of other organisations, but struggle to translate this into applications for major donors.

Don’t worry – you’re not alone! Each donor has its own funding criteria and requirements, expecting you to be able to break your project into small chunks which fit neatly to their questions and priorities. If you work for a small organisation, or work with smaller partners, this can be a challenging and time-consuming process – and the pressure to get so much done in relatively little time can be off-putting.

ZET know this feeling well. ZET is a small NGO, based in Leeds, that works with partners in Zimbabwe to support communities into education and out of poverty. The organisation had always been relatively small scale, helping a few individual Zimbabweans and receiving no more than a few thousand pounds in funding each year.

This was until we partnered with Trinity Project in Zimbabwe and applied for a grant from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to fund a project to help children get birth certificates and enrol in school.
This marked a turning point for ZET: we secured £75k of funding from DFID for the next three years and were able to reach thousands of families and help hundreds of children to obtain birth certificates and enrol in school. So at this point, we would like to share our insights and experience for other organisations in the same boat.

What does the application usually ask for?

Each application is different, with different requirements and priorities – so the first tip should always be to read through all the eligibility criteria, application advice and FAQs.

That said, most major applications follow similar lines and will want to know:

• Who the organisation is: what are you about, what do you do, how do they contact you? (This will probably include them asking for your latest accounts and constitution or registration as a charity)
• What the project is: where did the idea come from, how do you know it is needed, who does it help, how does it work? (This will probably include them asking for a project budget.)

Most applications of this scale are very popular, so they progress in stages – with each stage requiring more detail. At first, usually all the funder will want is a concept note, which outlines the organisation and the project. If you are lucky enough to get through that stage, you will be asked to submit a full application, with other attachments and requirements – the road to full application can take more than one step though, with organisations being rejected at each stage.

So how can small organisations deal with these highly competitive grant application processes? Below are five top tips we’ve learned from our own experiences in successfully applying for major funding:

1. Choose an implementing partner who shares your vision

The foundation of your proposal will always be having the right partner – one with a clear vision of what they want to deliver and the changes they want to bring about. Together, you should establish some clear change objectives; referring to these throughout the proposal will help create a logical structure that is easy to follow.

2. Develop a theory of change

The fundraiser should act as an interlocutor, working with your partner to develop and refine your change objectives into a solid theory of change which can be communicated in a proposal. This will help donors to understand more clearly the context you work in, and the relevance and benefit of your project.

3. Demonstrate that you know your stuff

Most major donors will expect the projects they fund to achieve sustainable and transformational change; and ask for evidence for this in a proposal. A great way to prepare for these types of questions is to conduct and document a short political economy analysis, which demonstrates understanding of your context; its local political, social and economic realities and how change happens.

4. Show you’ve connected all the dots

The project activities included in the proposal should clearly emerge from the theory of change, so it is evident how each activity is expected to contribute to your change objectives. This should include strong mechanisms for Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. These give you the information you need to evaluate and improve performance throughout and will demonstrate to donors that your project is well thought-out and managed.

5. Get your budget right

Finally, the budget should be realistic, emerging from the activities you’ve planned to facilitate change (rather than working backwards from an arbitrary total figure). If you apply for too little you will struggle to implement your project, but if you apply for too much it may weaken your application. Instead, demonstrate your project’s value for money by writing budget notes, explaining how figures were reached and why they are necessary.

While not every application will be successful, by following the above tips you can help ensure that your applications are well targeted and that they tick the right boxes for prospective funders. So our final piece of advice is: go for it!

Written by Stuart Kempster (ZET Trustee) and Hannah O’Riordan (ZET Operations Manager)
Edited by Jenny Daw (Editor, The Fundraiser)


ZET Blog: Diaspora Remittance Taxes

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) hosted a public event in 2014 about the high cost of sending remittances to Africa. It brought together various speakers from the banking sector, NGOs, politicians and the money transfer market, interestingly, no migrants were on the panel. The central point highlighted the significance of remittances for Africa’s development and particularly how and why sending money to Africa attracts such high charges compared to other parts of the world; some of the key points are as follows:

According to ODI’s report on remittance cost to Africa, compared to other developing regions like South East Asia and Latin America, (i) remittance flows to Africa are still smaller than Aid to Africa, (ii) they are also lower than private capital and Foreign Direct Investment, though much less volatile. The report also estimates that remittances to Sub Saharan Africa are about USD32 billion, (half of the USD60 Billion estimated by the World Bank for the whole of Africa). (iii) This figure represents about 2% of the regional GDP, that’s the average for the whole of Sub Saharan Africa, (iv) yet remittances are not equally distributed in this region; Nigeria for example, receives the highest amount of remittances compared to smaller countries like Lesotho. Therefore this implies that out of 54 countries in Africa, SSA (as defined by the UN) has 48 countries – all of which receive USD32 Billion, compared to the 6 North African countries that are considered part of the Arab world, receiving the balance of USD28 Billion. (v) The report then frames remittances as an important source of support for SSA families at household level, citing how they are used to pay for education, health, investment in home building, businesses and all the things an average African already knows.

So, if remittances are so important, why is it so expensive to send money to Africa? First, the average global cost of sending money is estimated at 7.8 %, to South Asia it costs about 6.5%, yet sending money to Africa costs 12%. This is more than twice what was recommended at the 2009 G8 summit labelled the 5×5 initiative, which meant to bring down remittance costs to 5% globally. All this means that on average SS Africans pay USD2.2 Billion more than the recommended 5×5 estimate each year. To understand this, the report summaries four ways for sending money to SSA through Banks, Post Office, Money Transfer Operators (MTO) and Others. However, 89% of all transfers are through MTOs and a detailed look at the main MTOs revealed that MoneyGram covers 24% and Western Union covers 40%, therefore 2 thirds of all money transferred to SSA is through 2 private operators that have created a duopoly. This lack of competition is cited as the reason why charges are so exorbitant and also why SSA is specifically affected compared to the rest of the world. The report goes on to reveal how the two operators have shared the SSA market geographically between them to further reduce competition even between the two, yet another ‘Berlin Conference’.

While all this is very informative and interesting, it begged some questions from the diaspora; for example, why is ODI (which is funded by DFID) suddenly interested in spending so much money to carry out this research and report? What’s the end goal and how will this research essentially “pay dividend” to its commissioners? There was talk that perhaps DFID and other traditional donors may be trying to find a way to access remittances under the rubric of ‘saving Africans’ yet again, what with the crisis and austerity these days. Though it is unclear how this can be achieved since migrants have no such confidence in sending money through traditional donors or their various governments. However, these bigger players do hold policy strings and by ‘attacking’ the MTO sector, it gives them leeway to ‘muscle’ into the market under the label of driving down sending costs through competition. While no such declaration was made (even though The Global Native asked that question specifically) the Shadow Minister for Education Rushanara Ali MP, alluded to the creation of what she called a “Remittance Bank” of some sort. This perhaps partially explained the absence of migrants from the forum, since they only represent a ‘moral impetus’ for carrying out this work.

In fact, ODI approached The Global Native asking for testimonials from migrants regarding their experience of paying such high costs, and perhaps including how much more could have been achieved had the charges been lower. The Global Native put this request to some of the migrant communities in London and the response was exactly that of high suspicion. They wondered what would be done with their information, would this go on some official data base for other Machiavellic use? They essentially refused to be ‘used to justify some potential policy they don’t understand’. Some even questioned why the Africans are not organising these events themselves. So I took a quick glance and found that the African Union Commission established the African Institute for Remittances, (AIR) signed in December 2009, in partnership with The World Bank, African Development Bank, European Commission and the International Organisation for Migration. They have a web page which is still under construction, and Facebook page that has only 162 followers, I felt compelled to ‘like’ it, so now they have 163, in fact it made me feel like a founding member. Granted, it is new and there’s much to be done, though I did muse over the irony that Africa’s remittance authority is broke.

Other thoughts at the event pointed out how ironic and hypocritical it was that here are organisations, such ODI funded by DFID, who are controlled by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) which writes migration policy- publicly declaring to be fighting for migrants and yet “one can’t switch on the TV without hearing how bad migrants are for the UK” said one attendant. What’s even worse is that “here we are running to such events ourselves, knowing how much we are badly treated by these very same people, as though we really deserve to be cheated like this” said another migrant. While all these concerns are very real, it is still an interesting time of shifting alliances and perhaps while the ODI report may not herald a genuine care for migrants and their cause – this “fight between governments and banks and these others” which the same attendant suspects, can be an opportunity for positive change if the diaspora can think it through and find ways to take advantage of it. The Global Native is very keen to understand what opportunities may lie in the fission created by this “suspected dispute” between giants. As the proverbs says, ‘when elephants fight, the grass gets hurt’ so it is in the grasses interest to watch these events keenly; but equally so, ‘after every revolution comes a new order, but before that, there’s opportunity’. That last line is taken from a good movie, just in case you’ve seen it. So, what are your thoughts?

 

This article originally appeared on the Global Native website in 2014

Written by Na Ncube, Director of The Global Native
Edited by Hannah O’Riordan, ZET Operations Manager


ZET Blog: The Importance of Legal Registration

The following article outlines real life stories collect by Trinity Project field workers. Each case outlines the importance of legal registration and protections for vulnerable persons, and how complicated it can be to backdate registration.

Although these cases can seem quite upsetting, in every instance, Trinity has since supported beneficiaries; providing them with legal advice and support; advocating on their behalves; and directing them towards the help they need.
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Sizwile

Sizwile was the only girl in a large family. Her family lived happily in a small village, supported by the small local supermarket her father ran. Unfortunately, this all began to change when both her parents died, while Sizwile was only twelve years old.

Sizwile’s parents never wrote a will, codifying how to share their estate when they passed. Her family and community took advantage of this, and her eldest brother inherited everything. They left Sizwile without a penny, with those around her believing that as a young girl she had no say in such decisions, and expecting her to do nothing but marry and move away anyway. With this destiny decided for her and living in poverty, Sizwile was forced to drop out of school, and was married off to an older widower by the age of sixteen.

At first, she viewed her husband as her savior, rescuing her from a life of poverty and suffering. However as the years passed, he became increasingly abuse and controlling. Without access to contraception or sexual autonomy, Sizwile had five children by the age of twenty-two. In just ten years, her life had been transformed from an educated, happy child to an abused and impoverished wife and mother, dependent entirely on her husband.

There are many tragedies that left Sizwile in this position, not least the institutional sexism that silences girl-childen and leaves them vulnerable to this kind of abuse and exploitation. However it is clear that legal registration and protections, such as wills, can help young women in this position, and could have protected Sizwile from this fate.
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Mrs Makhathini

Mrs Makhathini is the guardian of two childen, Nokuthaba and Nqobile. These children have been abandoned by both parents and both sides of the family, who are embittered by disputes between them and have forgotten to prioritise the children.

The children were left to her as infants by their father, who migrated to South Africa to find work. The mother also went to South Africa, but has since cut ties with the father and her family, and her whereabouts are no longer known. Mrs Makhathini understood the importance of registering the two children in her care, so that they could access education, healthcare and a host of other rights and entitlements. However, the situation that the parents and the family have left behind has made this incredibly difficult.

You need both parent’s documents to register a child. The father has made his documents available, but without being able to contact the mother, Mrs Makhathini was dependent on extended family on the mother’s side to access these documents. The two children’s maternal relatives have been uncooperative, claiming that the father still owes them ‘lobola’ (dowry) and refusing to support his children’s registration until this is resolved. Legally, neither guardians nor paternal relatives are allowed to register children. So without the mother or support of maternal relatives, Mrs Makhathini is at an impasse and the children are left unprotected and unacknowledged by the state.

The bitterness between the parents and their extended relatives surrounding separation and lobola is all too common, but in this case it has led to a violation of the two children’s rights. Every child has the right, enshrined in law, to birth registration, and the many public services this provides access to. Nokuthaba and Nqobile are being denied this, by their own family members. This leaves them unrecognised as persons by the Zimbabwean government: unable to attend school, sit public exams or access healthcare, and more vulnerable to child marriage or child labour. We desperately need legal change, to make registration more accessible for complex cases like this, and an increased awareness in communities to understand the importance of children’s rights and registration, and always prioritise this.

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Lubhelile

Birth registration can become a cyclical issue. Lubelihle had a difficult upbringing, financially insecure and was never registered by her parents. As a result of this background, she was forced to drop out of school and married when she was just a teenager. Early in the marriage she gave birth to a son, but not long after her husband abandoned her. Since then, she has been forced to work low-paid, insecure jobs just to support her and her child. Lubehlile was never taught the importance of registration – and more than this, she has to work several jobs and still barely meets the costs of rent, food and other bills, let alone taking on the expense of a complicated registration case. Since she is unregistered, she could not give birth in a public clinic or hospital. There is no state record of her, her former husband, or her childbirth. As a result, it would be very difficult, drawn-out and costly to register her son.

Whilst it is understandable that Lubelihle has little time or money to prioritise registration, this is already starting to impact on her son. He was meant to begin nursery two years ago, and has not been allowed a place as he is unregistered. He has also been denied healthcare at the local clinic. There is a clear cycle of children being born into complicated, insecure backgrounds, without proper access to education, healthcare, or other legal protections – which in turn makes them far more likely to expose their children to the same fate. Some parents do not know the importance of registration; others do, but still cannot afford or access it. Either way, vulnerable families are far more likely to perpetuate non-registration.
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Gogo

Gogo is a grandmother, who approached the project for advice about registering her grandchildren. Gogo’s son migrated to South Africa with his wife, where they had two sons. Her son was then arrested and imprisoned, leaving his wife alone with her two children. She buckled under the pressure of working and raising two children alone, and one day broke down and left the younger son, a newborn baby, in a rubbish bin.

Fortunately, one of the neighbours discovered this, and arranged for both sons to be smuggled back to Zimbabwe to live with their grandmother, Gogo. After this point, the mother fled and Gogo has lost contact with her. Gogo was keen to register the two children in her care, fully aware of the importance of registering them so they could access healthcare and education. However, when she came to the registrar she realized the complexity of the case. Neither child had been registered in South Africa where they were actually born, then they were illegally smuggled back into Zimbabwe, and had been separated from both their parents with no way of accessing either parent’s legal documents.

Gogo had researched the registration process, and had her faith restored when she realized that the extended maternal relatives could assist her and get the two children registered. Unfortunately, these relatives were uncooperative. They believed Gogo and her son had caused them to lose touch with their own daughter, the mother of the children, and rejected the opportunity to support Gogo or the two boys. Since then, Trinity officers have visited these relatives as mediators, and explained the importance of registration. We are optimistic this will help progress the case. This case again demonstrates how complicated the registration process is, and how poorly it protects unconventional or vulnerable families. Even with Gogo fighting for her grandchildren to fulfil their rights, it is an uphill battle.
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As each of these cases show, registration is often overlooked at the best of times, and downright impossible when cases get more complex. There is much need for third parties, such as Trinity, to mediate between families, local registrars and other relevant institutions, and lawmakers, to smooth the registration process. The good news is that Trinity has grown to a national figure in the past 5 years, changing laws, raising awareness, and supporting thousands of individuals. Trinity is absolutely vital, helping disadvantaged and vulnerable young people to fulfil the rights they should have, just by virtue of being born.

Stories collected and reported by Trinity Project field officers
Written by Hannah O’Riordan, ZET Operations Manager


ZET Blog: Farming Reform

The Land Reform Program, amongst other detrimental changes in the climate and political stability around the year 2000, precipitated the initial food shortages and crippled the country’s economy; tipping the scales from economic recession to full blown chaos. The proportions were colossal and were only made worse with several years of mismanagement, bad governance, poor policy formulation and implementation, systemic corruption, and blatant human rights violations which significantly contributed to turning the once so called bread basket of Africa, into an empty basket case, and a basket case of empty stomachs. The normal Zimbabwean, the typical small-scale farmer in rural areas, was not spared in the collapse of the country’s economy and agricultural downturn. The consequences of this recession was; millions left in perpetual need of food aid, millions more trapped in a ‘hunger on repeat’ horror sequel and even more Zimbabweans fleeing into neighbouring South Africa, Zambia and Botswana.

Ever since this downturn, Zimbabwe has relied on grain imports and aid from foreign donors to meet the country’s demand for grain. Drought, lack of financing and political instability hit commercial agriculture severely and those who had benefited from the Land Reform Program failed to produce adequate grain yields to sustain the ever increasing demand for food.

This obviously paints a sorry picture of incompetent authorities, but they did put effort into rectifying the situation. In 2005 and 2006 the government introduced the first Command Agriculture Scheme which was called “Operation Taguta / Sisuthi”. In that program, the army was given the task of tilling large tracts of land as it was peace time and their labour was available. The scheme unfortunately failed to yield the expected results. In 2007, the government introduced the Farm Mechanisation Scheme which was championed by the then Reserve Bank Governor. The scheme largely failed, potentially as a result of alleged corruption whereby mechanisation resources may have been distributed on a political basis to elites.

Government efforts proved to be fruitless and ineffective, and the situation only got worse last year when the maize shortages hit endemic lows due to a severe drought, caused by El Nino which crippled whatever production capacities were left in the country. According to the statistics collected at the time, 4 million people were left in desperate need of critical relief and food aid. This made the government realise the importance of a waterproof strategic plan of action which would be able to guarantee the peoples’ access to food in the event of another reoccurring drought. After the drought in the 2015-2016 farming season, the country experienced more than average rains which paved the way for another government scheme to be introduced. There was much scepticism aligned to the scheme because of the previously failed attempts by the government to ensure food security in the country, on top of issues such as corruption, farmer disloyalty, payment methods for the farmer’s grain and drastic changes of the weather. A lot of risk was involved in the scheme’s implementation process as there were a lot of critical areas which needed attention in order to make the scheme a success.

In 2016, the government re-introduced the Command Agriculture Programme, but this time the army was not involved in the implementation process. The programme was now designed to solve a fundamental problem the country faced in the aftermath of the land reform and severe drought, which was that of mobilising sustainable and affordable funding for agriculture so as to ensure food security, eliminate imports of food to increase exports from the sector and eventually reduce poverty. The 2016-17 farming season set the stage for achieving this goal. The scheme was introduced as Zimbabwe grappled with economic problems and its targeted beneficiaries were farmers near water bodies who could put a minimum of 200 hectares under maize per individual. 2000 farmers met this criteria in total, and each farmer was required to produce at least 1,000 tonnes of maize. Each participating farmer was required to commit 5 tonnes per hectare towards repayment of advanced loans in the form of irrigation equipment, inputs and chemicals, mechanised equipment, electricity and water charges. Farmers would retain a surplus product produced in excess of the 1,000 tonnes. The programme initially cost $500 million with each farmer earmarked to receive US$250,000 worth of loans. To ensure the success of the scheme, the government introduced regulated banned grain imports to protect the local farmers as well as ensuring food security and farmer prosperity.

The Ministry of Agriculture developed a database of all the beneficiaries of the Command Agriculture Programme, which expanded as more farmers sought to benefit from the scheme and more activities are added to the initiative. As of now, apart from maize the ministry has added specific loans for the production of wheat, soya beans and livestock production. Farmers do not benefit from the scheme unless they are registered in the ministerial database and the financing terms are currently at an all-inclusive interest rate of 5% with a tenure of one year, to allow farmers to sell their produce. Despite the margins of the schemes’ success being debatable – the scheme has been successful in some spheres and pointless in others – the truth of the matter is this: to the hungry old women from the down-trodden rural areas, having sufficient food stocks for the first time since the start of the millennium is a welcome development. The scheme has managed to strategically involve women in participating towards the re-establishment process of the nation’s food security state, revival of the economy and the country’s status as the “Bread basket of Africa”. The integration of Climate Smart Agricultural practices (CSA) could easily double the anticipated yields to be achieved by the farmers, thereby increasing their profitability which means the reduction of the loan repayment period by farmers. The anticipated results have been met in the first phase of the scheme, which was the 2016-2017 season and expectations are high that the 2017-2018 season will yield even better results. This is yet to be seen.

Written by Kudakwashe Kutesera, Foundations for Farming
Edited by Hannah O’Riordan, Zimbabwe Educational Trust


ZET Blog: 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, we take a look back at what your support has enabled us and our partners to achieve this year!

It’s been a busy year for ZET, providing vital support for three grassroots partner organisations in Zimbabwe and expanding the work we do back here in the UK. Thanks to you, we and our partners stepped up to the challenge…

Trinity Project

Trinity faced a challenging start to the year, beginning the first year since 2012 where they would receive no UK government project funding and being impacted by devastating floods across southern Zimbabwe. As ever, they rose to the challenge and launched a ZET-supported emergency appeal to provide food, shelter and supplies to flood victims. Beyond this, Trinity provided longer term recovery efforts including nutritional gardens and village loan schemes to help communities back on their feet.

Incredibly, Trinity Project also managed to carry on their usual work on birth registration. This year, responding the needs of the communities they work in and to support more vulnerable groups, Trinity expanded to work on access to a range of socioeconomic rights, including registration, education, healthcare and social services. This was very successful, reaching hundreds of families to provide services and support. Trinity is finally reaping the benefits of years of advocacy work, having been asked this year to draft a parliamentary motion on birth registration, meeting with multiple elected officials and community leaders, and having continued exposure in local media and academic articles. ZET’s support this year has funded transport and vehicle costs, which is essential in keeping the project successful and enabling staff to visit beneficiaries, local communities and stakeholders to provide their services.

Rafiki Girls Centre

Rafiki continued to provide transformative opportunities for young women in Harare, supporting 60 women this year to obtain education and training. Each graduate completed three months of life skills training, aimed at building up their confidence and self-sufficiency, with courses including sewing, computing, cookery and offering optional HIV testing and counselling. Trainees finish their time at Rafiki with a six-month vocational course run by an externally-accredited organisation, to build up their qualifications and employability and providing them with a connection to an employer when they graduate. Courses running in 2017 included hospitality, design, teaching and nursing, amongst others. This vocational training and link to an external organisation offers women the best chance to build a career, and 85% graduates went onto obtain work. Rafiki also works to holistically develop its students, offering them opportunities to relax and have fun, a vital part of growing up which they often do not have at home, through a range of recreational activities. These included movie nights, dinners and away trips to a national park, as well as extra-curricular learning opportunities such as HIV workshops and Careers Days.
Rafiki also has exciting news! Thanks to increased support from one of their other partners in the UK, Rafiki have been given partial funding to DOUBLE their capacity. This step is essential, as Rafiki currently receives three applications for every place it can offer, and this time last year the Centre had dozens of girls actually turn up on their doorstep, desperate to be considered for a traineeship. As demand for Rafiki Girls Centre and its vital services is so high, this step is important. However, we are not there yet, and Rafiki needs more support and funding from other donors, such as ZET, to be able to deliver this new expanded capacity. We will desperately need your support to make this a reality in 2018.


Foundations for Farming

The year was kickstarted for Foundations for Farming, who secured their largest ZET funding since our partnership began. This enabled them to run a project working with two local schools, building up the capacity of staff and students on conservation agriculture, so they would be better equipped to manage the land and produce more food and potential income for their school and community.

The projects were relatively successful, led by passionate staff at Foundations for Farming who went above and beyond to support the needs of the two beneficiary schools, and working with two very engaged and willing local schools. There was a lot of evidence that staff and students had adopted the principles taught by Foundations for Farming and were keen to implement these methods. However, both schools faced challenges beyond their control. The first school was forced to shut down due to lack of funds, however the teacher we had been working with was so committed to the project that she continued teaching these farming methods in her own back garden, with great success. The second school struggled with producing crops due to water shortages in their village. The school relied on students to bring in water from home to supplement the school and the plot, which was unsustainable. Foundations for Farming were impressed by their knowledge of and commitment to the project, so continued to support the school by providing them with tools, crops and farming methods more suited to dry arid land. Next year, Foundations for Farming desperately needs support to be able to reach more schools with this provenly effective project which helps staff and children gain skills and put food on the table, but also so that the project team have the capacity to provide additional support and resources when it is needed, as it has been this year.

Schools Outreach

This year, ZET has launched an exciting new initiative, working with local schools to deliver global learning sessions, where children and young people can learn about life in Zimbabwe, building up empathy and community links. We have been kindly supported by local organisations and universities, who have made this work possible and we look forward to expanding this work in the new year.

So far, ZET has worked with Westerton Primary School and Lee Briggs Infant and Nursery School, running interactive assemblies and workshops which aim to inform the children about Zimbabwe and challenge some of the misconceptions they may hold about other cultures and communities.

We have worked with children ranging in age from 5 to 9 running sessions, activities and games which teach about life, school, homes, jobs and culture in Zimbabwe, the history of the country and the UK’s relationship with them, and the work of ZET. We have been continuously impressed by how empathetic and engaged the children have been and it was lovely to see them engage with Zimbabwe in a positive, constructive way. The classes showed real interest by asking challenging questions, retaining detailed information and putting themselves in the shoes of children in Zimbabwe – even discussing complex issues like climate change, political shifts in Zimbabwe, and the birth registration process!

We will continue to work with these schools and more in the future, so watch this space.

Fundraising Events

Thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers, ZET has regularly held fundraising events throughout the year, all of which have been a resounding success and raised over £1000 for the Trust between them. This includes student-run pub quizzes at a range of local pubs – so we continue to thank Leeds students and their locals for having us! On top of this, the parishioners at Headingley St Columba ran an appeal this Lent and raised £1310 for ZET, so thank you all for your very generous support.

Most importantly, ZET turned 30 this year!!! And we celebrated in style with a big event in October, with music, poetry, Zimbabwean food, dancing and speakers all coming together to celebrate Zimbabwean culture, diaspora and the incredible work of ZET over the past 30 years! Thank you so much to all of you who attended or supported us – here’s to another 30 years.

If you have an idea for an event or fundraiser, or would like to raise money for ZET, please do get in touch!

Looking forward to 2018…

ZET has big plans for next year, starting the year with a visit to each of our partners in Zimbabwe to plan for working together in the future and develop our strategy and goals for the next few years. ZET hopes to capitalise on the momentum being felt across Zimbabwe, to transform the opportunity of a new period in the country into opportunities and support for our beneficiaries. We will continue to fundraise and support each of our partners, and hope you will join us in this mission.

Thank you so much for all your support this year. Together, we have transformed the lives and opportunities of hundreds of disadvantaged young people in Zimbabwe.

If you would like to give the gift of education this Christmas you can donate here: www.zimbabweeducationaltrust.org.uk/support-us

Written by Hannah O’Riordan, ZET Operations Manager


ZET Blog: Development Approaches

Development – like freedom, cannot be endowed, it must be achieved

Apparently the world of international development is at an impasse – so many theories, so many conferences, so many papers published, and still the poor remain poor and the development workers somewhat at a loss. The journey has been long – from a certain General Marshall’s utterances in 1947 through the large-scale construction projects, from the ‘discovery’ of poverty by the World Bank in the seventies to the present day era of glamour-aid. Though some successes have been noted, poverty on the whole is still here – and increasing.

So then, why is so much goodwill generating such conflicting results? What are we doing wrong? Well, this is my view – in the first instance, what is development? My belief is that development is – in the words of McEwan – a natural, immanent evolutionary process without intentionality. What I think he means is that, left alone, people will find a way to improve their lot in life. That in fact this is an instinctive drive in all of humanity to improve our condition. We do this in a form of trial and error – learning, adjusting, adapting – and in the process, developing or improving. The process is as important as the result. But more importantly, the result is not always clear at the beginning – so for instance I set off thinking I am going to be a farmer, and through trial and error find that actually I am a talented musician, and maybe I should be a rock star. We all more or less meander our way through life in this way – and the key thing here is that we make the choice of what lessons to keep, and what lessons to discard – a process describe by sociology as agency : the ability of people to make independent choices.

However, with the ‘discovery’ of poverty, development changed from being a natural process informed by independent choice, to ‘an intentional practice with a set goal’ i.e. a means to create order out of the social disorder of rapid urbanisation, poverty and unemployment. Development thus could be determined and directed towards a known end using suitable tools. This therefore meant that someone (the development expert) sat down and decided what the desired goal was (the poor person will be a farmer not a rock star) and then said expert devises tools to make this happen. Expert then sells plan to a donor and a timescale is agreed – so development worker has 3 years to turn poor person into a farmer.

This is where the fun begins. We have had five decades of tools of development – from the original blue-prints that assumed so much and achieved so little. We have redefined words like participation, local ownership, sustainability etc. In fact we have even debated and understood agency (and then tried to manage it…..) We have created complex tools like the log-frame. Conference papers have been read in their numbers, and small successes hailed. But in the main – people are still poor. And now we have an impasse.

The impasse is, I believe, the best thing to come out of international development. Because now we can look at what development is – a natural process. And what it is not – the intentional practice. All the effort of trying to harness what is essentially an internal process has not worked because it cannot work. No amount of planning and funding can replace agency – the need for people to make independent choices. Both those who hand over this internal drive to another, and those who try to manage this in the lives of other people – no matter how well intentioned, will fail. Development is the process, it’s what people achieve for themselves – it cannot be planned and managed by a third party.

This article was originally published by The Global Native in 2016.

Written by Na Ncube, Director at The Global Native

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