13 000 drop out of school in 2013 alone!

Last week the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education released a report with which had disturbing figure of school drop outs in 2013 Zimbabwe. While the official figure of 13000 may be lower than the “actual” figures it is quite disheartening to note the major reasons and the gender of those dropping out. Below are some of the disturbing facts;

  1. More than 13 000 primary and secondary school pupils dropped out of school in 2013 owing to early marriages and lack of school fees,
  2. About 52 percent of secondary school drop-outs were females, and 40 percent of all primary school pupils who failed to proceed with their education were also females.
  1. At secondary level 2 289 dropped out of school comprising 1 063 females and 1 226 males because of school fees, while 1 191 failed to continue because of marriages, with 801 of them being females and 390 males. Absconded has 901, while pregnancy has a total of 856 drop-outs.
  1. At primary level, 2 784 dropped out because of school fees consisting of 1 646 males and 1 138 females followed by absconded, which consists of 591 males and 440 females. Death and unknown reasons have 525 and 625 respectively
  2. Only157 in every 1 000 pupils successfully progress from Form 1 to Upper 6, which is down from 168 calculated from 2012. The increased number of school drop-outs comes as the ministry is grappling with a huge number of children failing to access the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) [a government initiative meant to assist poor children with school fees] in the payment of fees.
  3. There are over one million orphaned and vulnerable children in Zimbabwe in need of assistance.

Children who are supposed to be in school: Image courtesy of speechlog.com

This is the reason why we at Tariro exert ourselves to educate orphaned and vulnerable girls. We believe our ‘small’, yet tangible steps are a vital cog in the wheel of social change. Our range of services are meant to be the much needed cushion to the worn out social safety net.

High flying Moleen!

Late last year we ran a blog for Tariro students who had received various prizes for academic excellence at Domboramwari high school in Epworth. One of the students was Moleen who scooped various prizes in different subjects. Well today we are featuring her again and this time she has done it on a national level. Out of the 8 subjects that she passed Moleen obtained 5 straight “A”s.

Naturally we are as ecstatic as Moleen as she takes her academic journey to Advanced level. Moleen will be taking Business studies, Accounts and Economics at A level. Moleen has always had the desire to be an accountant and we are glad that she is on course to realising her dream.

Recipe for success

Moleen attributes her success to a strict reading culture. She disclosed to me that she would often wake up at 2am to study for the examination. For many days she would stay behind after school and engage in group discussions with her colleagues. Spiritual guidance also played a part as Moleen told us that she would pray regularly.

It’s all because of you

DSCF7780

A bright future beckons: Morleen wants to pursue a career in accounting.

Moleen is thankful to Tariro for coming to her rescue in 2011 when she almost failed to enrol for form 1 because her mother had failed to raise the $100 required for her to start secondary school. The family had just lost the breadwinner, Moleen’s father the year before in 2010. Moleen is grateful to Tariro for the support she has been receiving ever since.

We would le to congratulate Moleen and wish her the best in the rest of her academic journey. We would also like to thank YOU our supporters who help us to work towards the fulfilment of  our mission to educate and empower young women and girls in Zimbabwean communities affected by HIV/AIDS.

IMAG0323

Precursor; This photo from last year shows a jubilant Moleen surrounded by family and friends after winning multiple awards at Domboramwari High School.

Highlights from our work in 2014

Greetings to you and we would like to wish you a prosperous 2015. Well, before we delve into this year’s business, let us just share with you some of the highlights of our work for 2014.

2014 has been a challenging year as we had the uphill task of sending an unprecedented number of students to university , this against a limited budget. We also lost our colleague, Senzeni in October. However, it has been another successful year for Tariro and marked another milestone in the history of our work.

We managed to score several successes in our work and the below are some of them

• Provided a full range of services

Tariro ensured that none of its beneficiaries missed even a day of school due to lack of fees and or sanitary ware. We managed to pay school fees for all our beneficiaries in primary and secondary schools as well as those in universities. In addition to that we provided a year’s supply of stationery and sanitary ware to ensure a hassle-free academic year.

Some of the beneficiaries posing for a photo after receiving new uniforms.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beneficiaries holding stationery sanitary ware

Registerered students for examinations

We managed to successfully register 8 students to write their examinations.

Pamela K sat for the National Certificate examination in Rural and Urban Planning at the Harare Polytechnic College. Melody S sat for the ZIMSEC Advanced level examinations while Brendon I, Tinotenda B, Esnarth M, Mollyn W, Winston N and Mercy N sat for the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) Ordinary level examinations in October and November.

• A boost for our library

We managed to boost our library stock by purchasing 33 revision guides for Ordinary and Advanced level as well as general text books for our library. This saw increased traffic to our library and we believe it will contribute immensely to our students pass rate at both national and local exam level.

• Three additional university students

We managed to enrol Jane J and Edwinner S into university, Jane J (Bsc Hons in Human Resources Management) got a place at the Midlands State University and Edwinner S ( Bsc Hons in Social Work) at Bindura University of Science Education this has added to 6 the number of tertiary students that we have – the highest number we have had so far. W also had Pamela K enrolling with the Harare polytechnic college to study Rural and Urban planning.

• Our traditional dance ensemble getting recognition

Our Traditional dance ensemble, which is our major psychosocial support vehicle, was featured in the Zimbabwean mail edition of 31 jan 2014. In june we got the chance to be the main entertainers at a youth expo organised by a local NGO YET Trust – among the delegates were ministers, legislators, representatives from youth organizations and members of the public.

• Partnering CITW

IMG-20150111-WA0002

Jane J (in white T-shirt) posing with some of the children who were at the CITW camp in Hwange.

In November , we partnered Children in the Wilderness (CITW) when two of our beneficiaries were selected as volunteer team leaders for a safari camp they held for underprivileged children in Hwange, Zimbabwe• Kusatenda uroyi

There is a Shona Proverb which says, “Kusatenda uroyi” whose meaning is that failure to express gratitude is just like witchcraft. In the same spirit, we would like to express our gratitude to all of you who have supported our cause, it is because of your donations, words of advice and encouragement that we manage to speak of highlights. You may not be there to physically meet our beneficiaries but they surely feel your warmth and love!DSCF3499

• A call for more help.

We continue extending our plea for your continued support. As we face each new year, we face new challenges. Where we used to pay for 15 secondary students or 35 primary school students, we now pay for just one university student per year.

Tariro needs someone like you further our quest to empower young girls and women through education. We would also like to enrol other vulnerable girls who are missing school due to lack of school fees and supplies.

• $30 will provide a student with school supplies (pens, paper, and sanitary ware) for the year.

• $80 will provide a student with a new uniform, including shoes, socks, pants/skirt, shirt and tie.

• $100 will cover the annual cost for a student to participate in Tariro’s music and dance ensemble.

• $150 will enable a student to write her Ordinary Level exams.

You can donate to Tariro online, or mail your donations directly to PO Box 50273, Eugene, OR, 97405. Thank you once again for your support!

We wish you a prosperous year ahead!

Kenny Magwada (executive director)

Student profile: Meet Tiny J.!

Meet one of our beneficiaries: Tiny J.  She lives with her mother, grandmother, three other siblings, and six cousins. Together, the 12 of them share three small rooms in Harare’s densely populated suburb of Glen Norah. With an absent father, it was up to Tiny’s unemployed mother to single-handedly raise Tiny and her three other siblings, among a huge extended family. In 2010, when she was in grade 5 at Chembira Primary School, Tiny almost dropped out of school due to not being able to pay her school fees. Like many orphaned and vulnerable girls, she was plagued by continued absenteeism from school and this was severely affecting her grades.

DSCF3353

Fortunately, Tiny heard of Tariro through our dance instructor, Daniel. After going through our vetting process and with recommendations from her Headmaster, Tiny was enrolled into Tariro and before long, her grades gradually began to improve. Now doing Form 2 at Glen Norah 2 High School, Tiny is happy that Tariro has taken her this far. She is doing well in school and her confidence has returned. Today, Tiny is a prefect at her school.

When she spoke to us, she revealed that she strongly wants to become a nurse so that she can offer immediate help to those who are ill. She says she was inspired by her friend’s aunt. Tiny is so passionate about becoming a nurse that she disclosed to us that she is studying her mathematics and science extra-hard so she will be eligible to enroll for the profession.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On a parting note, Tiny revealed her dream to give back to Tariro through donating money for school fees as well as stationery once she is working. She also had a word of advice for her fellow Tariro colleagues, “Girls, we should work hard in school so as not to let our donors down”. We would like to thank all the supporters for helping us get this far! As we move toward a new school year in Zimbabwe, your donations mean the world to Tiny and her peers.

This blog post was written by Sagar Patel, a Tariro student intern through the University of Rochester’s Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender & Women’s Studies.

Guest post: Chiedza Mufunde, Tariro board member

Tariro's fabulous board member Chiedza Mufunde, pictured with Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright at Hilary Clinton's inaugural Women in Public Service Project colloquium

Tariro’s fabulous board member Chiedza Mufunde, pictured with Gloria Steinem and Congresswoman Nita Lowey at Hilary Clinton’s inaugural Women in Public Service Project colloquium

Giving Hope: Tariro Girls Excel!

Every year on World AIDS Day, I mourn the loss from AIDS. I reflect on the impact of this loss on children, families, communities and economies around the world. Despite the pain of these losses, I also take the moment to appreciate the progress we have made in fighting HIV/AIDS, and recognize the work that lies ahead. However, despite the progress we have made, girls without a primary education are still at higher risk for getting infected. Each year 60% of new HIV infections occur among adolescent girls – gender inequality contributes to these high numbers among girls.

The evidence is clear: investing in education for girls is an effective tool to fight HIV. Girls with primary education are significantly less likely to contract HIV – when girls stay in school through secondary education, the protective effect against HIV is significant. When girls are educated, they are able to avoid risky behavior, practice and negotiate safer sex. Increasing access and breaking barriers to education for girls is essential to achieve an AIDS- free generation.

For the last decade, Tariro has been fighting HIV through supporting education for girls orphaned by AIDS in Zimbabwe. Through financial and psycho-social support, Tariro girls are able to continue with their education and dream beyond their circumstances. Over the years, girls supported by Tariro have excelled in their studies and continue to hold onto the hope for a brighter future.

In Zimbabwe, education has led to significant decline in rate of HIV infection – in 2010, 75% of 15-24 year old Zimbabwean women had completed secondary education and this led to the significant decline of HIV rates from 29% to 14%. The benefits for educating girls benefit the girls and society overall, yet we continue to see a decline in government expenditure on education. Programs focusing on adolescent girls, especially in sub-Saharan Africa play an important role to ensure girls reach their full potential.

I support the work of Tariro in opening doors and allowing girls to. Your support for Tariro carries our work forward to ensure these girls find hope and lead full and healthy lives. Your gift today gives hope and adds to the call to action for improving education for girls around the world.

Chiedza Mufunde is passionate about education and reproductive rights. She currently works on research, policy and advocacy with A World At School campaign focused on universal primary education. She is also Secretary of Tariro Board of Directors.

Join us on Giving Tuesday!

TariroLogo_s_666_100Dear Friends –

It’s hard to believe we’ve now passed our tenth anniversary. Whether you have been supporting us for many years or are a new supporter, THANK YOU. Your donations have made a life-changing difference in the lives of Tariro’s students. Your help is more critical now than ever, since recent news from Zimbabwe suggests that increasing numbers of vulnerable students have been unable to pay their school fees.

As many of you know, the past year saw many positive transitions at Tariro, most notably the hiring of our new Executive Director, Kenny Magwada. I am writing from my new position as Fundraising Chair, encouraging you to join us this Giving Tuesday by making a donation to Tariro through our special Giving Tuesday webpage.

I have always found individual stories to be the most powerful way of communicating why Tariro’s work is so important. These are the stories of girls like Jane J., who is now one of several students attending university with Tariro’s support. Without your assistance over the past four years, however, it is unlikely that Jane would have finished even a basic high school education.

JANE JONGWEJane’s story

When I first met Jane in 2009, she had many extended periods of absence at school as a result of her inability to pay her school fees. Despite her desperate circumstances, however, Jane showed great academic potential, maintaining an overall average grade of an A-.

With Tariro’s support, Jane passed both her Ordinary and Advanced Level exams. We are proud to announce that she is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management at Midlands State University with continued sponsorship from Tariro.

Describing Tariro’s powerful impact in her life, Jane says, “When I lost my parents, I thought that life was going to end. But I thank God that he provided me with you guys. Thank you for paying my fees.”

Help us educate other girls like Jane!

As the new school year begins in Zimbabwe, I encourage you to contribute to Tariro’s work with students like Jane. While we need to raise a large sum– about $30,000 – even a small gift has a major impact:

  • $30 will provide a student with school supplies (pens, paper, and sanitary ware) for the year.
  • $80 will provide a student with a new uniform, including shoes, socks, pants/skirt, shirt and tie.
  • $100 will cover the annual cost for a student to participate in Tariro’s music and dance ensemble.
  • $150 will enable a student to write her Ordinary Level exams.

You can donate to Tariro online, or mail your donations directly to PO Box 50273, Eugene, OR, 97405. Thank you once again for your support!

Sincerely,
Jennifer Kyker, Founder

Remembering Senzeni within a wider Zimbabwean context

Senzeni jpeg

This photo shows Tariro’s librarian Senzeni Matikiti in 1995.

Today, I want to take a few more minutes to address the recent death of Senzeni Matikiti, Tariro’s beloved librarian. While my first post about Senzeni’s passingwas a more personal reflection on how she became involved in Tariro’s work, I also feel it is important to reflect on how Senzeni’s very early death, at only 35 years old, is part of a much large constellation of issues of health, education, poverty, and social justice – the very issues that Tariro is dedicating to addressing in our work to educate at-risk girls.

Life expectancies in Zimbabwe

When I heard the news that Senzeni had died, I was immediately reminded that her early death was sadly not an unusual event in Zimbabwe, where life expectancy dropped precipitously in the late 1990s and early 2000s. By 2006, Zimbabwe had the world’s shortest life spans – 34 years for women, and 37 years for men. Recent reports from organizations such as the World Bank suggest that life expectancies have improved in recent years, reaching 60 years for women and 56 years for men. Yet, these numbers are still lower than Zimbabwe’s average life expectancy in the 1980s, suggesting that HIV/AIDS has erased many of the health gains made immediately after independence.

The thinning population pyramid

In the lyrics to his song “Mabasa,” which addresses the ravages of HIV/AIDS, Zimbabwean popular artist Oliver Mtukudzi sings the poignant lines:

The young lead the way (Pwere dzotungamira)
The workers lead the way (Mushandi wotungamira)
Only elderly men and women are left (Sare chembere neharahwa)

Mtukudzi’s lyrics reflect exactly how HIV/AIDS and related diseases have affected the “population pyramid” in countries like Zimbabwe, by hollowing out an entire generation of people in the most productive years of their lives: teachers, farmers, mothers, fathers, nurses, and traders. Let’s take a moment to view some graphics illustrating the devastating social effects of this process.

Normally, developing countries like Zimbabwe have a population pyramid that tapers evenly, from a large base of dependent young people, through a mid-sized group of workers in their productive years, and to a small number of dependent elderly people. The following chart, while illustrates the population pyramid of Mozambique, is an excellent example:

Population pyramid, Mozambique. From the BBC.

Population pyramid, Mozambique. From the BBC.

In Zimbabwe, on the other hand, the population pyramid radically thins out just at the ages of 35-39, as we might expect after the drop in life expectancy over previous decades. While Zimbabwe is located right next to Mozambique, its population pyramid thus looks very different:

Population pyramid, Zimbabwe. From Indexmundi.

Population pyramid, Zimbabwe. From Indexmundi.

The shape of Zimbabwe’s population pyramid reflects the predictions made by scholars interested in demographic changes in countries affected by HIV/AIDS, as you can see in the following illustration, which predicts the relative population of low-income countries affected by HIV/AIDS, represented by the dark shaded area, in comparison with those unaffected by HIV/AIDS, represented by the light shaded area. Note how closely the prediction for countries affected by HIV/AIDS matches Zimbabwe’s actual population pyramid.

Population pyramid model illustrated the effects of HIV/AIDS. www.sarpn.org

Population pyramid model illustrated the effects of HIV/AIDS. http://www.sarpn.org

As people in the prime of their lives are lost to diseases such as HIV/AIDS, the effects are felt not only on an individual, family basis, but throughout society as a whole. Their loss is, in a very real sense, everyone’s loss. When I think back to the invaluable role Senzeni played within Tariro, I think of all the people whom she interacted with in her professional life: our students, their guardians, their teachers and headmasters, our other staff. For each of these people, Senzeni’s death is a narrowing of their professional and social world.

Orphans

Yet, needless to say, the deepest pain of Senzeni’s death is that felt by her two children, Jesse and Tinashe, both of whom are still under the age of 18. Senzeni was an amazing mother: no matter how hard things were, Jesse and Tinashe were always dressed in cleaned, well-ironed clothes, and always had a smile on their faces. It was obviously how much they respected and loved their mom, and no one will ever be able to fill that gap in their lives.

Jesse and Tinashe now join the ranks of almost a million orphans living in Zimbabwe, all of whom have lost either one or both parents. Among these orphans, Jesse and Tinashe are among the most disadvantaged, because they are now “double orphans,” rather than “single orphans” who have lost only one parent.

In a country of only 10-12 million inhabitants, the problems of caring for nearly a million orphaned children should be clearly evident. Who will take them in, feed the, and pay their school fees? Who will be able to spare the extra time to wash and iron their clothes, pack their lunches, and protect them from abuse? And who can muster the extra emotional energy to guide them through the trauma and grief of losing not one, but often multiple family members?

The many pressing needs of Zimbabwe’s orphaned children is precisely the site where Tariro has chosen to intervene in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Instead of institutionalizing orphans, our approach is to strengthen the ability of their extended families to keep them at home and care for them. Your support and generous donations have been essential in enabling us to make this difference.

Tariro’s Executive Director Kenny Magwada recently reported that Senzeni’s children have been taken in by an uncle who lives in Highfield, not far away from where they used to live. This is excellent news, since it will minimize further disruptions to their education. Yet, the road will be very long and difficult for both of them. Tinashe, in particular, was supposed to write his O Level exams this year. So soon after his mother’s death, however, it is likely that he will not pass. And there are no guarantees that they will be able to continue living in the same neighborhood, or with the same relatives, until finishing secondary school. As long as they are still in Highfield, however, Tariro is dedicated to supporting their education in Senzeni’s memory.

Infections and inequalities

Borrowing a phrase from the amazing work of Dr. Paul Farmer, the last point I believe it is important to make is that Senzeni’s death from tuberculosis reflects the way many modern infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and now also ebola, have become diseases of the poor. Relatively rare in developed nations, they have become entrenched in places like Haiti and Guinea, and are also endemic within pockets of institutionalized poverty, including many prison systems.

Yet, as Paul Farmer has long argued, these conditions are not simply private problems; they are public health problems, with important ramifications for all of us. From Russian prisons, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, or MDR-TB, threatens to spill over into the larger Eastern Eauropean population. From Sierra Leonean districts like Kenema, Ebola eventually reaches Dakar, Madrid, New York City, Dallas, and Kayes. Among these infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS has taken the greatest human toll; it is also implicated in the spread of other opportunistic infections, like TB.

In order to successfully change this dynamic, Farmer argues that we must move away from explanations that rely on dubious assertions about “culture” – the idea that people in Guinea engage in dangerous burial practices, for example – and toward addressing the structural problems that create the conditions for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB, and Ebola to spread. Foremost among them is, quite simply, poverty.

Once again, it is here that Tariro is participating in creating small, but radical change, since educating women is the single best way to transform poverty. Our mission is one of empowering girls not simply to transcend the problem of infections and inequalities, but to participate in changing the very conditions by which the two become linked. Please join us.