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Women & Girls’ Empowerment

ZET Blog: Child Marriage and the Girls Summit

Please note, this articularly originally appeared on the DFID website, and was written by Lakshmi Sundaram, the director of Girls Not Brides.

Working on a taboo subject can be isolating and demoralising and, as evidenced by the experience of some Girls Not Brides members focused on ending child marriage within their communities, even life-threatening. Until a few years ago, child marriage was such a taboo: it was definitely not considered to be a suitable topic for international summits, hosted by Prime Ministers and heads of UN agencies!

2014’s Girl Summit showed us just how far we have come, in a very short time. By focusing on child marriage, the Summit brought global attention to this once ignored issue, which can have a devastating impact on the lives of girls.

We know that child marriage has already hindered the achievement of six of the eight Millennium Development Goals and continues to trap 15 million girls a year in a cycle of poverty, ill health and inequality. Tackling child marriage has been identified as a smart investment, which is likely to lead to “improved educational attainment, higher earnings and greater health-seeking behaviour”. This is a target which not only empowers girls and women, but the knock-on effects would mean we stand a better chance of achieving other important development goals.

The Girl Summit highlighted the growing global commitment to child marriage, bringing together government ministers, community leaders, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector. Importantly, the Summit saw a high level of participation from many of the countries most affected by child marriage.

The message from Girls Not Brides members attending the Girl Summit – and those following it from afar – was clear: political leaders need to back up their words and commitments with long-term funding and comprehensive, integrated strategies and programmes.

But has anything changed since the Summit?

Have we made progress?

There are certainly successes that we can celebrate: the Human Rights Council unanimously adopted a resolution recognising child marriage as a violation of human rights, which was co-sponsored by more than 85 countries from every region of the world.

At the regional level, both the African Union and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation have taken on the issue. Several countries are making progress in developing their own strategies to end child marriage. And, all over the world, we continue to see brave individuals and civil society organisations taking a stand against child marriage and working tirelessly to support the girls affected.

But there is still so much to do. At Girls Not Brideswe would like to mark this anniversary by renewing our call to political leaders to create a lasting legacy of the Girl Summit, and continue to turn your words into actions. You can start by ensuring that the proposed target on ending child, early and forced marriage is included in the final Sustainable Development Goal framework, to be adopted in September.

Of course, a target on paper by itself will not change the lives of girls. Change will only happen when governments make ending child marriage a political priority, when they work with civil society to develop and implement comprehensive, cross-sectoral national action plans, and when these plans are fully resourced. Change will only happen if we measure progress effectively, and are willing to learn from our mistakes and adapt course if needed. Change will only happen if we continue to remember that we are ultimately accountable to the girls whose very lives are at stake.

Those who work on child marriage know that this is a complex issue that will not be ‘solved’ within a tidy 12-month period.

But we also know that if we can collectively harness the growing global momentum on ending child marriage – and follow through on all of our pledges and commitments – we can make ending child married within a generation a shared reality, not just an aspiration.

Original article: https://dfid.blog.gov.uk/2015/07/22/one-year-on-from-the-girl-summit-are-we-any-closer-to-ending-child-marriage/

Written by Lakshmi Sundaram, Girls Not Brides

Edited by Hannah O’Riordan, Zimbabwe Educational Trust


ZET Blog: UNICEF Zimbabwe Education Plans

Zimbabwe’s education system, once arguably the best on the continent, has been deteriorating over the past 10 years and has been seriously affected by the declining financial assistance to the sector. In the absence of significant national government financing, which is a result of massive hyperinflation, economic restrictive constraints, and political instability, a complex system of fees, levies and ‘incentives’ has evolved that has significantly disadvantaged the poorest. Further, some thirty two per cent of learners no longer continue their school beyond grade seven. This consistent decline in public expenditures on non-salary costs has had a significant impact on school and learning supervision, availability of information for planning and policy and the relations of school governance, which has in turn led to a significant decline in the quality of school environments, the relevance of the education system and the placement of skilled teaching personnel.

In response to the challenges in the education sector, the Education Transition Fund (ETF) was launched in September 2009 by the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture (MoESAC), and was aimed at improving the quality of education for children through the provision of essential teaching and learning materials for primary schools, and high level technical assistance to MoESAC.

The ETF, in addition to assuring consistency in funding levels during the transition period, has found that a pooled fund mechanism has helped to increase alignment with Government priorities, promoting ownership, coordination and reducing fragmentation. As such, despite the fragile nature of the recovering education sector, new opportunities exist providing a ripe environment for the rapid consolidation and improvement of the education system.
improving.

As the education sector transitions into a phase of long term recovery, the overall goal of the second phase of the ETF will be to support the continued revitalization of the education sector by assisting the Government of Zimbabwe to realize its objectives of achieving universal and equitable access to quality and relevant basic education for all Zimbabwean children. ETF II is outlined in three key thematic areas which are guided by MoESAC’s Strategic Investment Plan (2011). These areas are outlined below:
The first phase of ETF focused on the emergency revitalisation of the education sector, and on the distribution of essential school stationery and core textbooks for primary and secondary schools. However, the transitionary nature of the second phase of ETF will see the programme, under the direction of MoESAC, and in line with its Strategic Plan, focus more on the systems and structures that provide education, in turn building the capacity of MoESAC, including Zimbabwe’s teachers to deliver quality and relevant education for all. The programme will focus on investing resources at the school level across the country through the development of a block grants initiative with the aim of reducing user fee costs for all learners. These grants will allow schools to reconstruct WASH facilities, repair school infrastructure (including teacher houses), purchase essential teaching and learning materials and procure teacher and student furniture, allowing for rapid scale up if future funding permits.

The second phase of the ETF will support the following key activities:

● The finalisation of a national sector planning framework for education, with corresponding provincial and district level plans, directed by the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture;
● The development of a national school grants initiative, delivering critical investment (including WASH) at school level, to assist in the reduction of financial barriers to education for both boys and girls;
● In-service training of at least 100,000 teachers in modern pedagogical and subject based skills, with a focus on improving the basic teaching skills of at least 10,000 unqualified teachers;
● Training of at least 300 key Ministry personnel at the national, provincial and district level, as well as some 8,000 school heads to strengthen their system management capacities related to planning, implementation, supervision and monitoring, linked to priorities outlined in the emerging 5 Year Strategic Plan;
● The development of a fully revised, modern, market oriented and culturally appropriate curriculum framework, with corresponding tested syllabi for all ECD, primary and secondary levels;
● Development of a second chance education

 


ZET Blog: A History of Rafiki Girls Centre

Rafiki means friend in Swahili, and that’s exactly what Rafiki Girls Centre is. A friend to disadvantaged girls, offering empowerment and opportunity through education and training. Throughout Zimabwe’s history, the girlchild has been the most vulnerable – under pressure to take on the majority of domestic work and care, often forced into child marriage, pregnancy or labour, and excluded from education.

Due to the economic troubles of the last twenty years, their situation has exacerbated – with girls often dropping out of school, engaging in risky sexual and employment practices, and exposing themselves to HIV and other disease.

Rafiki stood as a friend for these girls, offering support and education that they could use to build and change their lives. Today we have more than 600 graduates, with 85% going onto access further education or training.

 

For example, Rafiki was a friend to Tinotenda. When she joined the centre, she was a struggling orphan who could not afford her HIV medication. Now she has started her own business to fund her studies.

 

Rafiki was a friend to Michelle, who used her nursing training at Rafiki to go on and qualify as an ambulance driver and paramedic for Harare Hospital.

 

 

It is unclear what the future holds for Zimbabwe, with elections coming up and the economy remaining turbulent. It is clear though, that girls are all too often left behind in development, and for as long as it is needed, Rafiki will be there to be a friend to girls in need.


ZET Blog: Marriage in Zimbabwe

Trinity Project staff in Bulawayo work tirelessly to provide vulnerable women and children across Matabeleland with the legal documents they need to access socioeconomic rights and services – including education, healthcare and welfare which are their basic human rights.

As part of this work, they visit local homes and communities and learn more about the people we support and the circumstances that left them unregistered and unprotected. We have noticed that often, women and children are left vulnerable and unable to register because of their marital status.

Unmarried women or women in unregistered marriages often have very little legal protection in terms of property, land, inheritance or divorce settlements. Children from unmarried parents often have to go through far more loops and proofs to get their births and citizenship registered, leaving them unable go to school, hospital or vote. As a result, many women find comfort in marriage certificates and registration. However, this is often not prioritised, or even when marriages are registered, due to patriarchal legislation and customs, this is not always enough.

For example, project officers supported Esinathi in the first few months of this year. She travelled a lot for work, but one day when she returned from South Africa she found her husband with another woman. When she complained, her husband kicked her out of their home! She appealed to her husband and his family to reclaim her rightful place in her home and to split their property equally, as she believed was her right after a marriage ends.

Unfortunately, although they both paid into the house costs and accounts, all the deeds and receipts were in her husband’s name. Esinathi had no choice or legal rights, and lost all her property due to this mistake with no legal recourse or complaint to take. In Zimbabwe, marriages do not automatically entitle you to a split of property and women must be encouraged to jointly register all property, homes and other assets to protect them in such circumstances.

Another good example of the impact of registering marriages is the case of John and Tanyaka (name changed). Marriage is an important institution in African culture, and there are certain social norms and practices which must be followed to consider a couple married in the traditional sense

Tanyaka and John met and fell in love, so agreed to be married with the consent of their elders and moved in together. Soon after, Tanyaka became pregnant and had a happy, health baby boy. However, Tanyaka’s parents discovered this and rejected the marriage. The couple had cohabited and had a child before a traditional or legal ceremony had been conducted, and before lobola (bride price) had been paid to the bride’s parents. As such, the marriage was never formally registered with the registrar, or fully accepted by the maternal relatives and so accepted culturally either.

Tragically, Tanyaka became ill and passed away while her son was still an infant. When John went to register his child’s birth, he discovered a number of challenges. Since he was not married to the mother, he could not register a child alone. Since the mother had passed away, he needed the child’s maternal relatives to support the registration and they refused until he had paid lobola.

John was forced to provide his wife’s family with $1000 and two cows, working overtime to procure the money with a newborn baby and grieving for his wife. After he had paid this, he approached them again to try and get his son registered and yet they still refused. Desperate, John reached out to Trinity Project whilst officers were visiting his village. We were able to provide legal advice and assistance, and eventually we are happy to report that his maternal relatives understood the importance of registration, and supported John in getting his son registered.

It is essential that people in Zimbabwe are made properly aware of their legal rights, and that whether they choose to marry or not, they know to register themselves and their children, to properly enshrine their rights and entitlements. Trinity continues to work tirelessly to support vulnerable families already in this position, and raise awareness amongst institutions and communities to help protect people in law and in practice for years to come.


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: 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: 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: Rafiki Stories

ZET and Rafiki Girls Centre help around 60 girls each year, providing intensive support and training to offer each and every graduate a second chance into education, employment and opportunity; empowering them to live independently and successfully.

The invaluable support ZET donors have provided to hundreds of women in recent years can be difficult to truly comprehend. Together with Hildah, the director over at Rafiki Girls Centre in Harare, we have collated a few personal stories of ZET supported beneficiaries, and how the training they received thanks to your support and donations transformed their lives.

  1. Everjoy

One such beneficiary is Everyjoy, who has come from great personal difficulty and tragedy, and empowered herself. She has asked us to share her story, so we have done just that.

Everjoy and her brother became orphans at a young age, as both her parents unfortunately died from AIDS. They then moved in with their uncle, but were forced to leave when Everjoy bravely reported him for regularly raping his wife and infecting her with HIV, and he was arrested. She then moved in with an aunt, who sent her brother away to work. Everjoy has not seen him since and was heartbroken by his absence.

This aunt asked Everjoy to get an HIV test, and her life became very difficult when she tested positive. Her aunt did not allow her to sleep in a bed or use the furniture, cook or share utensils with the rest of the family – including a plate, cup, and bath. Not being able to cook made it difficult for her to take her ART medication. Her aunt also stopped paying for her school fees, as she believed Everjoy would die soon and education was a wasted investment. This forced Everjoy to drop out of school and instead, she worked as a maid round the house and for her aunt at the market, told this is how she would pay her way. None of the family respected or cared for her, and she was regularly abused and neglected.

Desperate, she called into a radio show to ask for advice. She was then referred to Rafiki Girls Centre, and lived with the radio show presenter, Dr Makoni, whilst she completed her training. During this time, she slept on a bed for the first time in 8 years and was able to take her medication properly and effectively. Whilst at Rafiki, she received advice and counselling for her positive status and gained the life skills she needed to live independently of her relatives. She worked extremely hard to get onto the exclusive Nurse Aide course, and relished her education in this field.

She finished her training at Rafiki with a qualification in nursing in 2013. Her aunt called her at her graduation, to tell her that now her training was finished, she should come back and work at the market to pay her way. Determined to not return to her former life, Everjoy was helped to find a job by Rafiki and Dr Makoni, who allowed her to stay on at his house until she finds employment and can afford her own place.

Everjoy was so happy to have found a family that accepted her, and looks forward to future where she will be self-reliant. She plans to earn an income so she can pay to sit her O Levels, and then continue her training to become a doctor. She also wishes to track down her brother as soon as she can afford to. She is confident the support and training she received at Rafiki will enable her to transform her life, and is so passionate about this that she wishes to open her own charitable home to help others like Rafiki helped her.

  1. Loveness

Another beneficiary of the important work at Rafiki is Loveness. Loveness comes from a large, polygamous family. However, her mother and sisters are not loved or respected by the rest of the family, as the mother gave birth to girl children only and so are not as desirable or useful to the patriarch, her father. Her father refused to fund her or her sisters’ education and told them they would never make it in life, encouraging them to marry young instead. Loveness wanted to choose education and employment rather than early marriage, but struggled without the funds or support to do so.

When Loveness heard of Rafiki Girls Centre, she seized the opportunity to prove her father wrong and realise her dreams. She was a dedicated student, and excelled in her sewing skills training. Loveness is now training to be an interior designer, and loves education. She has also started a small business using the skills she learnt at Rafiki, sewing items such as aprons and hats, to raise money for her mother and sisters – particularly their school fees. She hopes to show her father, and men like him, that when girls are given the chance they can be the source of change in their families and communities.

 

The following three beneficiaries are new students who joined the centre this summer, so although we are yet to see all the incredible things they will be able to achieve when equipped with second chance education, they do each demonstrate the difficult circumstances many of the students face.

 

  1. Alice

When Alice was only a year old, her father died and her mother ran away. She then lived with her grandparents, until they too passed on, and she was forced to live with relatives she hardly knew. Alice struggled to meet school fees and the relatives she now lived with were also unable to cover these. So, although she took her O Levels, her results were withheld because of her debts to the school. Alice went on to take a job as a housemaid, so she could support herself and gain skills.

Through this role she learnt about Rafiki Girls Centre, who could provide her with the training she needs to empower herself, and gain skills, employment and go onto live independently and successfully. At Rafiki, she plans to specialize in tailoring and go onto work in this area in Harare.

  1. Christwishes

Christwishes is an orphan, who lives with her siblings after both her parents died from AIDS. Her and her oldest sister were forced to drop out of school and sell fruit to raise money for the food and rent for the family. She told staff at Rafiki Girls Centre that her life changed completely and became very difficult once her parents had died.

Christwishes wants to come to Rafiki Girls Centre so that she can learn employable skills, and wishes to specialize in sewing. This will enable her to gain an income-generating job, to not only support her family, but to pay for school fees so they can all go back to schools and complete their O Levels. This is her main wish, and learning skills to live independently and gain employability will enable her to complete her education and empower herself.

  1. Vanessa

Vanessa is an orphan who lives with her siblings and extended family. Tragically, after the death of her parents, her house was attacked by a petrol bomb and some of her siblings and relatives were killed. Vanessa survived, with severe burns.

After this heartbreaking incident, she was forced to miss school for a year while she recovered. Without parents to pay her school fees, and having fallen a year behind, Vanessa was forced to drop out of school. Her greatest desire is to break the cycle of poverty her family is trapped in due to low-paid, low-quality employment, by receiving training in a range of skills and going on to obtain a professional job. She would use the income from this to support her relatives and siblings, after all they have done for her.

It can be difficult to recognize what difference your donations and support are making. It is only by digging a little deeper, and asking these truly inspirational women about their stories and their aspirations, that we can begin to recognize how the opportunities provided at Rafiki Girls Centre really can prove transformational, offering women – and often their families – the opportunity to pursue their dreams and prosper.
Written by Hildah Mahachi and Hannah O’Riordan


ZET Blog: Girl Child Economic Empowerment

Many major obstacles to economic empowerment in the developing world originate from the lack of formal education, patriarchy systems that prioritize the boy child over the girl child, and the devastating effects of HIV & AIDS. The AIDS pandemic has left many households child-headed, with the girl child shouldering most of the work – leaving little opportunity for education or for a girl to choose her own future. The major effect of the patriarchal system in most developing societies is that most parents believe it is not necessary to enroll girls in formal education. This stems from the belief that a girl child’s destiny is marriage – therefore sending her to school is an unnecessary “waste of resources”. Although the government and other organizations have tried to raise awareness on the importance of sending ALL children to school, the enrollment of the girl child remains very low in the most marginalized communities of Zimbabwe. From a very tender age, the girl child is raised to be a mother, to take care of the home and concentrate on household chores.

If, for example, one parent is taken ill, the girl child is expected to miss school to take care of the sick parent. The same is not expected from the boy child. This scenario disadvantages the girl child, who misses school until the parent is better, so then when children are assessed at the end of an academic period, the girls’ grades understandably drop and boys will perform significantly better. Another issue is the lack of proper sanitary ware, for the same reason. Girls are forced to miss school for the duration of their monthly period, and the ultimate result is poorer academic grades. The social environment and harsh conditions under which girls learn makes it difficult for them to succeed academically.

Rafiki Girls Centre was established in 2002 to respond to the challenges young women face which have disadvantaged them from the outset, often leaving them orphaned and vulnerable. Economic empowerment is our main focus. The girls specialize in one of the following courses: hotel & catering, nurse aid (health care assistance) training, cutting & designing, pre-school teacher training, interior design and cosmetology. However, we believe in a holistic approach to a human being’s personal development, hence the inclusion of other life skills such as basic cookery & sewing, grooming & etiquette, First Aid, and lessons in HIV & AIDS. In order to achieve these aims, we run special events to develop these women holistically – such as Careers Days and HIV/AIDS Awareness Workshops.

 

            

Careers Day enlightens students about the many opportunities open to them, including teaching, nursing, health and beauty, hospitality and more. The event addresses negative attitudes held towards certain careers, and encourages the students to be successful in whichever field they choose. This is possible, they learn, as long as they follow their passion and work hard. We often see women who come to Rafiki as timid and apprehensive, leave as confident, competent young women.

The HIV/AIDS Awareness Workshop provides a safe space to share knowledge, provide accurate information, and for people living with a positive status to share their experiences. Following these sessions, our students feel empowered to make wiser choses, negotiate safer sexual practices, and volunteer for HIV testing and corresponding counselling and support.

Rafiki’s aim is to empower girls with the skills needed to alleviate poverty in their homes and the communities where they live. We hope that this training opens opportunities for them, and these girls gain a second chance to enter into education or employment should they so wish. We also hope that by training women to be self-sufficient and confident, they will be less vulnerable to situations which may expose them to HIV or unsafe sex. So far, Rafiki has supported over 700 young women, 85% of which have gone onto further education or employment, and we hope to continue training and tackling gender inequality in the future.

Written by Hildah Mahachi (Director at Rafiki Girls Centre)
Edited by Hannah O’Riordan (Operations Manager at Zimbabwe Educational Trust)

 

If you would like to write for our blog, please contact Hannah O’Riordan on contact@zimbabweeducationaltrust.org.uk

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