Tag Archives: girls

Good news from Tariro’s traditional music and dance ensemble!

Tariro girls dance wearing traditional magavhu leg rattles

In today’s post, I’d like to share news from Tariro’s traditional music and dance ensemble.  As my own personal history with Zimbabwean music led directly to the formation of Tariro, our traditional music and dance group is one of my favorite parts of our work.  Weekly rehearsals, led by master dancer Daniel Inasiyo, provide our students with a space to develop confidence, self-esteem, and social networks with their peers, in addition to gaining practical skills as musicians and dancers.  The traditional dance group has also led to great collaborative projects, such as our fundraising CD, Maungira EZimbabwe, as well as our ongoing partnership with the marimba group Hokoyo, in Eugene, OR.

Peer instruction is an important part of Tariro's traditional music and dance rehearsals

As our traditional music and dance group continues to develop, I’m happy to report that instructor Daniel Inasiyo recently shared some good news with us!  First, we’re very pleased to announce that several of Tariro’s newly enrolled students, who joined us in 2011, have joined the group, infusing rehearsals with new energy!  Several of these new students entered the group with a background in traditional music and dance, after having participated in an ensemble as part of their primary school education.  We’re happy to have a new group of musicians and dancers sharing their skills and experience with the rest of the ensemble!

New participants in the ensemble include many students with previous experience in traditional music and dance

Second, our ensemble is now officially registered with the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe.  Our official status at the arts council will assist us in working toward gaining recognition and visibility within Zimbabwe, as well as securing performance opportunities at cultural events, giving us a platform to share our wonderful work with other organizations and individuals in Zimbabwean civil society.  Finally, Daniel also reports that he has ordered a new set of costumes for the group, to replace our old costumes, originally purchased in 2008.  We can’t wait to share photos of the group in their new uniforms in the coming months!

The support Tariro receives from individuals, foundations, and organizations around the world is critical to our ability to offer this incredible empowerment program.  Thanks again for your donations, which enable us to pay school fees for girls in Zimbabwean communities affected by HIV/AIDS, as well as offering extracurricular activities like the traditional music and dance group!

Introducing Ashley B.’s Hero Story

Dedicating the story:

While Tariro is a non-religious based organization and works with girls of many different beliefs, many of the students have found support through their individual practices, such as Christian Protestantism. In Ashley B.’s story her faith is shown very clearly, as it is with many other girls who write about their beliefs.  Ashley decided to dedicate her Hero Story to Jesus Christ. She believes without him she wouldn’t have had the fortune of all the blessings in her life.

My hero is my Lord because he gave me my mother who takes care of me, my grandparents, trees which provide oxygen for my life and also Tariro organization. Thank you Lord.

Venturing to the past:

Ashley discusses in her story the hardships she has faced.

Going to school without school uniform and October 27, 2000 when I was 8 was the day that my father passed away.

Making progress for the future:

I am now in form four. I live with my ninez in Mhondoro. I always study my books in order to pass. My favorite subjects are Mathematics, Science, and English because I dream to be a nurse.

Hoping for the future:

This picture refers to my wedding day. May people come to celebrate my wedding day.

Continuing with blog posts:

Thank you for reading a story from one of the girls once again. It is amazing to me to see the themes within each story that really come out to show how the girls are similar but also different.

However even though I see commonalities between the girls when reading the stories I also see each girl as a unique individual that I am getting to know better through their personal story, just as I hope you are as well.

Looking specifically at Zimbabwe after the UN council meeting

The first case of HIV was discovered by scientists in June 1981, since then the epidemic has continued to grow. With it’s growth we have seen a numerous amount of deaths, but there have also been strives. Partners in Zimbabwe wrote an article about the HIV epidemic specifically related to Zimbabwe after the UN council meeting in New York. The article discusses Zimbabwe’s challenges, achievements, and opportunities.

Looking at the challenges Zimbabwe faces:

In the world Zimbabwe still has one of the highest HIV infection among all the countries. “It carries the third largest HIV burden in Southern Africa and has one of the highest rates of premature adult mortality, largely due to HIV-related illnesses.”

The second most significant source of new infections is mother to child transmission. “Approximately 1 in 3 infants born to HIV infected mothers are HIV infected.”

AIDS still remains a leading cause for death in Zimbabwe. “It is estimated that in 2010 alone 59,318 adults and 11,981 children died of HIV-related illnesses.” The other tragedy is that, “AIDS related deaths have left in their wake large numbers of orphans and vulnerable children: it is estimated that 25% of all children in Zimbabwe have lost to AIDS one or both parents.” However Zimbabwe is committed to achieving the goal of zero new infections.

“Latest estimates place the 2010 adult HIV prevalence at 13.13%, which brings the estimated number of people living with HIV to about 1.2 million, including 145,225 children under 15.”

Looking at Zimbabwe’s achievements:

Even though there are 1.2 million people living with HIV the percentage of new cases every year continues to decline. “The first cases of AIDS in Zimbabwe were reported in 1985. For the next decade, HIV prevalence continued to rise and peaked at 29% in 1997. HIV prevalence has fallen significantly since the late 90s, down to 16.06% in 2007 and further down to 14.26% in 2009.”

Zimbabwe has also done with with making the antiretroviral treatment more accessible to the people. “By the end of 2010, a total of 314,927 adults (60% female) with advanced HIV infection were on ART representing coverage of 54% based on the revised (2010) WHO guidelines, up from just 8.3% in 2005. A sizeable number of children were initiated on ART: 32,430 children were receiving ART by the end of 2010, which constituted about 37% of the total number of children in need of ART, which was estimated at 89,490. It is estimated that annual AIDS-related deaths decreased from 123,000 in 2006 to 84,000 at the end of 2009.”

Looking at the future:

Through all of these messages coming from different sources we all must stay positive and continue to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. It is troubling to see how many people are living with HIV, but it is inspiring to see how the number of new infections in decreasing.

It was interesting for me to see how many mothers pass on the condition to their children. Through seeing how many new children are infected I believe that it is more important now than ever for Tariro and organizations like it to continue sponsoring young girls and keeping them in school. Stopping the spread of HIV to these girls will not just stop with them, but if they succeed because having the ability to go to school they won’t be a part of the statistic of mothers that spread HIV to their children. The cure will not just come from an immediate solution, but a long term one in which we break the cycle of girls receiving the condition and spreading it on to their kids.

Looking back at the last 30 years

According to a recent article from PlusNews Global we have now reached the third decade since the first case of HIV was diagnosed. “An estimated 30 million people have died, another 34 million are living with the virus and an estimated 7,000 new infections occur every day.” However according to the article the news isn’t all bad. We have also seen a 25% decline between 2001-09 for the new cases of HIV. Also last year a record 1.4 million people started antiretroviral drugs. The article categorizes the successes as well as the failures for treating HIV in recent years. The following statistics have all been contributed a new report from UNAIDS.

Looking at the pure numbers:

- Between 1981 and 2000, the number of people living with HIV rose from less than one million to an estimated 27.5 million;

- In 2010, an estimated 34 million people were HIV-positive;

- The number of new infections has steadily declined, with the annual rate of new infections falling by nearly 25 percent between 2001 and 2009.

Treating the infections:

- Between 2001 and 2010, the number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment rose nearly 22-fold, with an estimated 6.6 million people on treatment globally by December 2010;

- An estimated nine million people who qualified for ARVs did not receive them.

Looking at the future:

While we have seen an increase in the number of HIV cases we have also seen a decrease in the rate of new people being diagnosed. This statistics may seem overwhelming but it is important that we realize that in time we can continue to work towards a goal and solution.

I wanted to share these statistics with you because they remind me of how many lives are being affected in this world but also make me hopeful that in the future the rate of newly diagnosed will continue to decline.

It is Tariro’s mission to prevent the further spread of HIV by educating young girls. Through educating these girls we can make it less likely for them to fall in the same pattern as their parents did and help them to achieve a brighter future with education.

Thank you for reading this week!

Here is the link to the actual article if you’re interested in reading more: http://plusnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportID=92883

Understanding Zimbabwe: Statistics regarding the HIV/AIDS epidemic.


The county and its flag.


Hello readers! I hope that you liked last weeks post explaining the how the school system in Zimbabwe works. In this weeks post I want to take a look at the specific HIV/AIDS statistics in Zimbabwe. Looking up these statistics really put the epidemic into perspective for me and truly opened my eyes.

I would also like to talk about a personal story of one of our students, Ashley M., and talk about how HIV/AIDS has effected her life.

Astounding statistics in relation to Ashley M.:

Ashley’s story:

Ashley is attending Herentals college right now. Both of her parents have died, her mom January 31st, 2003; and her dad December 5, 2007. According to UCSF the year Ashley’s mother died there were 170,000 HIV/AIDS related deaths, and 140,000 the year her father died. Zimbabwe has a higher number of orphans, in proportion to its population, than any other country in the world, according to UNICEF. In fact, as many as 1 in 4 children in Zimbabwe are orphaned as a result of parents dying from AIDS.

After her parents died Ashley and her little sister Ellen moved in with their grandmother and two younger uncles. She said that some of the difficulties she faces is her relatives not having enough money to buy “food and soap.” But after Tariro began sponsoring her, “a lot changed.”

She said that after Tariro came into her life her, “school performance improved as well as her emotional state.” She began worrying less because she didn’t have to be concerned about finding ways to pay her school fees. According to UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), in 2009 there were 1,000,000 children orphaned by AIDS. Sadly only 95,000 of those students went to school. But Ashley is now one of them because of Tariro’s support.

At the end of Ashley’s interview she said something very moving, “I will be different than the other children who didn’t have the chance to go to school.”

Ashley is one example of an orphan is Zimbabwe who is effected by losing parents to HIV/AIDS. If you look at the thousands of people who died in the same years as her parents it becomes astonishing to think about how many children are effected and go through life changing events because of this epidemic.

Thinking about these statistics:

Going beyond the statistics and relating it back to Tariro’s mission sheds some light on how important our work is. Out of the 95,000 orphans that are attending school, only 39,000 of those are girls. Tariro’s work continues to be more important than ever with us sending girls to school each year and helping make that number a bit higher.


Once again I thank you for your support by just doing the reading. Learning these statistics really opened my eyes. To realize how big the scale is and how many people are effected makes me even happier that I am participating in Tariro’s work.

Explaining education: How Zimbabwe’s education system works.

A group of Tariro's secondary students model their uniforms.


Hello readers! I hope that you are all doing well. In this weeks post I wanted to explain how the education system in Zimbabwe works. The reason I chose to cover this topic is because I think it’s important that people get a more in depth understanding of our work. I am trying to go beyond the mission statement of, “educating and empowering young women and girls in Zimbabwean communities affected by HIV/AIDS,” and expand on that. I understand the school system can be confusing, but understanding it is the next vital step in knowing the work. Beyond supporting young girls, I hope this helps you to understand why we would pick the age group that we do, and give you a better understanding of these girls lives.

Explaining some history:

Zimbabwe gained independence from colonial rule in April 1980. At that time most of the people in the country didn’t have the resources to go from primary to secondary schooling, which stopped them from continuing their education. Since then, the educational system has expanded; however, there is still a huge discrepancy between the private schools and the government funded schools.

The school system in Zimbabwe consists of seven years of primary school and six years of secondary school. When these 13 years are completed a student can then move on to University. The school year for Zimbabwean students runs from January through December. The terms are three months each and they are all broken up by one month holidays. The students take their national examinations during the third term in November.

Defining primary school:

Primary school is the first seven years of the 13 year education. Most of the children begin grade one when they are six, however there are a few that start when they are five or seven. There is a difference in the first few years of school between rural and urban environments.

In rural schools the children begin being taught reading and writing in their native tongue but by grade 3 they are switched over to English. For children in urban areas they begin being taught in English with the other languages being taught as other courses. During the seventh year students take examinations in: “Mathematics, English, Shona or Ndebele and Content, which is a combination of sciences and social sciences.”

Defining secondary school:

A rural secondary school in Mhondoro, where Tariro has sponsored several students.

When students are entering secondary school they compete for places in private and mission schools depending on how well they did on their seventh grade exams. There are two levels to secondary school: “O” level which is four years, and “A” level which is two. There are certain forms for each level. “O” level consists of forms I-IV, which “A” level consists of forms V-VI. There are certain curriculum for each form and once a student gets through form IV and is ready to move onto form V it becomes very competitive. Only those students with very high marks manage to get into “A” level courses.

According to the U.S. Embassy in Harare the “A” level courses are made up of, “science, commercial and art subjects.  The vast majority of students take three subjects at “A” level, with a few very gifted students opting for four subjects.” At the end of their “A” level curriculum when the students work is graded there are certain scores that are equivalent to college credit, just like AP classes.

Helping make a difference:

It is important to understand the education system in Zimbabwe to understand why Tariro’s work is vital. In many situations children will get out of primary school and not be able to move on to secondary school. This especially effects the girls who have been orphaned by losing parent/s to HIV/AIDS. I am happy to say that through Tariro’s work we are making the problem a little bit smaller everyday by helping send 50 girls to school each year.

Now Tariro likes to focus on sending girls to secondary school as the primary goal, however we do have some girls that are in college right now. We had one girl, Pauline K, finish university last year, but we have two currently enrolled. Tatenda C. is currently a freshman in university and Daphine S. was just awarded a scholarship to study at the University of Venda.

Supporting students beyond secondary school:

The US Embassy in Harare is really trying to make a contribution to the gifted children in Zimbabwe who couldn’t otherwise afford to attend University. Through the embassy there is a program called USAP (United States Achiever Program). The students that are selected for this program, “undergo an intensive yearlong program that assists them to negotiate and finance the process of obtaining full scholarships to study at U.S.”

This is another great program working in Zimbabwe to help children. For this reason I thought I would give a short blurb about it for you, the readers, in case it’s another initiative you might be interested in.

Thank you:

Thank you for taking the time to read about the education system is Zimbabwe. I certainly learned a lot when researching it. I hope that this has been informational and interesting. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.

Megan Bauer

Special Note:

There is a women named Hazel Zengeni who is studying at MIT right now. She went through the education system is Zimbabwe and has worked with Tariro girls. She is going to be writing a piece about her experience with the education system and I will be posting that to the blog!


Zimbabwe’s education system: http://www.bibl.u-szeged.hu/oseas_adsec/zimbabwe_sec.htm

US Embassy’s explanation of education: http://harare.usembassy.gov/zimbabwe_educational_profile.html

Introducing Tariro’s New Intern

Megan Bauer - sitting on a staircase at the University of Oregon.

Hello everybody! My name is Megan Bauer and I am just starting as the new communications intern for Tariro.

Deciding to work for Tariro:

Originally when I started looking for internships I didn’t know what kind of work I wanted to do exactly, but I knew that I wanted to do something that helps others. It has always been important to me that when I graduate the work I do makes a difference in other peoples lives and actually improves their lives, and I felt like I could accomplish both of these with Tariro.

At first when I began applying for internships there were three nonprofits that I looked into, all of which are great organizations, but something stuck out to me about Tariro. It is amazing that Tariro is not just making a difference in girls lives temporarily, but for years to come. This organization is helping to stop a vicious cycle of disease by keeping young girls in school. These girls who couldn’t have otherwise afforded to go to school because they lost a parent/parents to HIV/AIDS have now been given a new opportunity to further their education to prevent them from being exposed to the same fate.

I chose Tariro because I know that the work I am doing will be contributing to something greater than myself. The growing HIV/AIDS problem has left many people suffering, but through Tariro this problem is becoming a little smaller with each girl that goes to school.

I am very excited to be doing communications for Tariro and hope that the work I’m doing will in some way make the lives of others greater.

Learning about Megan:

I am currently a sophomore at the University of Oregon and am double majoring in Public Relations and Advertising. I chose these two majors because the type of work they involve fits perfectly with who I am. I originally began with Public Relations and decided to add the advertising major to broaden my skills.

The reason why the Public Relations major suits me so well is because I truly love working with people. I have been a people person my entire life and that is what motivates me. Communication has always been very important to me and helping people to receive messages that they otherwise wouldn’t have is a goal of mine. I hope that through this internship I can help get Tariro’s message out to more people so that they can contribute to or know about this great cause.

Working to educate young women:

Every person that works for Tariro has their own stake in what the organization is trying to accomplish. Being a communications intern I will be working on a few different tasks. I am going to update the blog every Monday with new information about women’s health, women’s education, or events that are taking place. I am really excited to find information on these topics and begin sharing them with the blog readers.

I’m also trying to reach out to more people on the facebook page. My goal is to get more people aware about Tariro and then try and get more people involved in this great cause. Besides the facebook page I will also be updating the twitter a couple times a week with interesting articles related to women’s health and education. Eventually I would like to take some footage Jennifer has from her trips to Zimbabwe and create a video to represent the organization.

Through all of this I am very excited to begin my work with Tariro and for you, the readers, to come and find interesting and informational reading on the blog.

Tempest in a tea cup

Schoolgirls reading, from Greg Mortenson's book "Three Cups of Tea"

This week, I’d like to share some thoughts on the recent controversy surrounding Greg Mortenson’s work with the Central Asia Institute.  Many readers are probably familiar with Mortenson, the best-selling author of two memoirs, “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones into Schools,” which tell the story of his work building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  In particular, Mortenson’s commitment to making education accessible to girls has made him a worldwide spokesperson for women’s empowerment through education.

Making sense of memoir

Recently, however, author Jon Krakauer has suggested that Mortenson’s memoirs are largely fictionalized, a fabrication rather than a reflection of reality.  In particular, Krakauer suggests that the dramatic opening of “Three Cups of Tea,” in which Mortenson promises to build a school in the remote village of Korphe after its inhabitants save his life following a failed attempt at climbing the notorious Himalayan peak of K2, is false.  Likewise, Krakauer suggests that a significant account in “Stones into School,” in which Mortenson recounts being kidnapped by a group of Taliban, is also fabricated.  But surely readers should be willing to grant Mortenson the literary freedom to compose a narrative that conveys certain essential elements of his story, yet combines, rearranges, or even fictionalizes others?  The creative act of telling stories about ourselves, after all, is perhaps the most important way in which we make sense of our lives, and externalize meaning for others.

Mortenson’s missing schools

While generous readers will find tolerance for fictionalized elements within a personal memoir, however, generous donors are much less willing to tolerate fictionalized figures within balance sheets and budgets.  More pressing than concerns about his books, then, are accusations of financial mismanagement within the Central Asia Institute, an organization that took in over $20 million last year alone.  The most serious of these accusations suggest that Mortenson is simply not doing much of the work he has taken credit for.  In a recent exposé, 60 Minutes visited Central Asia, only to find that some schools the CAI has taken credit for building simply do not exist, while many others “were empty, built by somebody else, or not being used as schools at all.”  Furthermore, almost half of the CAI’s annual budget apparently goes toward promoting Mortenson’s own book tours in the United States, rather than working toward the organization’s mission to foster education in Afghanistan.

Expanding the conversation

The accusations against Mortenson are especially serious given his very public stature, and the level of trust vested in his work across a broad spectrum of American life, ranging from school children who have donated “Pennies for Peace,” to members of the armed forces, as Mortenson’s memoirs has become required reading for troops stationed in Afghanistan.  As the many communities and individuals who have become involved with Mortenson’s work re-evaulate their engagement with his organization, I suggest that it is time to widen the terms of the debate, from an inquiry into the working of a single organization, to a broad conversation about international development work, a realm in which Mortenson’s story exemplifies an important recent trend.

Glittering stars and the dusty road

Before his fall from grace, Mortenson was one among a constellation of glittering stars of non-profit work, who, like Paul Farmer, Nicholas Kristof, and Jacqueline Novogratz, have shared ideas that illuminate the horizons of a more equitable world, suggesting ways to work toward social justice and change in areas such as education, health, finance, and entrepreneurship.  Sharing their message widely through books, speaking engagements, and the social media, these figures represent a new type of public intellectual.  Their success has lent a new glamour and cachet to non-profit work, leading significant numbers of young people to start their own initiatives to build an orphanage in Nepal, work toward peace in the Sudan through musical activism, or ally themselves to the work being done by the new public intellectuals, such as Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health.  The “Do It Yourself” revolution, as the New York Times recently reported, has had the wonderful effect of encouraging international engagement and understanding on a wide scale.

Bathed in the glow of their success, however, the stories told by many of these public intellectuals leave little room for recognition that working toward social change entails a long journey, upon a dusty, rocky road.  While the idea of educating women, providing accessible health care for the poor, or creating social entrepreneurs may present an alluring image, the reality – seeing girls drop out of school or fail their exams, tracking down ARV patients to ensure compliance, or losing profits to bureaucratic red tape- is decidedly less glamorous.  Indeed, engendering true social change is a long, hard process, which often turns up mixed results, presenting failures alongside successes.   Faced with the shining stars of development work, however, we’ve come to expect a smooth process toward social change, rather than this rocky road.  Beyond the problems of financial transparency and accountability within the CAI, then, Greg Mortenson’s story points toward a more widespread challenge for development work.  To gain support for development work, organizations necessarily highlight their successes, downplaying their challenges, failings, and obstacles.  In so doing, however, they likewise contribute to the  perspective that development work will run smoothly, leading us to look up to the glowing stars, when in fact our eyes should be on the long, dusty road before us.

What do you think? 

The story of Mortenson’s work also draws our attention to many of the paradoxes of development work, in which small organizations can often accomplish more than large ones, and local work can be more powerful than global initiatives.  As Tariro’s director, my deepest fear about the serious accusations facing Greg Mortenson is that these criticisms will decrease support for the many grassroots organizations working throughout the world to educate children, particularly girls.  While organizations working with millions of dollars a year spend many millions on administration, organizations like Tariro are often administered largely by volunteers, enabling us to send almost all of our donations back to Zimbabwe, where they provide valuable income to our few local staff members, and have a huge impact in the lives of our sponsored students, such as Daphine, recently featured in a blog post.

Are any readers out there engaged in development work, whether as donors, aid workers, or volunteers?  What is your perspective on how non-profits can best celebrate our successes while openly sharing our challenges, and communicating realistic expectations to donors and beneficiaries alike?  And what are the ramifications of the very troubling accusations against Greg Mortenson and the CAI for smaller, grassroots organizations working in development?  I’d love to hear your comments…

Until next time!
Jennifer Kyker, for Tariro

Half the Sky… this Thursday in Eugene!

"The Women's Crusade:" The New York Times responds to "Half the Sky"

What can we do together to turn oppression into opportunity for women worldwide?  Tariro will be among the organizations gathering this Thursday at Eugene’s own Tsunami Books, to discuss many of the problems facing women and girls around the world, and share solutions for empowering women and their families locally, as well as internationally.  Organized by Women’s Opportunity Worldwide, the event is centered around the narrative of women’s empowerment told in the best-selling book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, written by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  The community event planned for this coming Thursday is being held to accompany a presentation by Sheryl WuDunn, who will be speaking at the University of Oregon on May 11th, in conjunction with the Center for the Study of Women in Society.  Here are the details!

April 14, 2011
7:00 p.m.  to 8:30 p.m.
Tsunami Books
2585 Willamette St.
Eugene, OR

A newly formed organization, Women’s Opportunity Worldwide was recently profiled in Bob Welch’s column in the Eugene Register Guard, which mentioned Tariro as one of the groups based in Eugene working to make a concrete change toward women’s empowerment.  Come join us for the community discussion with Women’s Opportunity Worldwide!


Marimba in the Mountains: A benefit for Tariro!

Tendai Muparutsa with Chiroto Marimba

In this post, I’m pleased to share news about an upcoming event in Ronald, WA, to benefit Tariro and Pembera Youth Marimba!  Music teacher Jacqueline Fallon, at Cle Elum Roslyn elementary school, is organizing Marimbas in the Mountains, featuring Cle Elum-Roslyn’s Pembera Youth Marimba ensemble.  In addition, the event will feature special guest group Chiroto Marimba Ensemble from Moscow, ID, joined by the talented Zimbabwean musician and ethnomusicologist Tendai Muparutsa.  Here are the event details:

Marimba in the Mountains!

Location: Hawthorne Hall, 3rd St & W. Atlantic St., Ronald, WA
Date: Saturday May 07, 2011
Time: 5:30-10:30pm
Price: $10

The event will include dinner, live music by Pembera and Chiroto, and a cakewalk!  Dinner includes a choice of red, white, vegetarian or gluten free lasagna, salad, garlic bread, and a variety of drinks. There will also be a selection of Zimbabwean food for to sample.