Tariro founder Jennifer Kyker prepares for Zimbabwe trip

Jennifer with Pauline K., Tariro's first A level graduate, now in her second year of University

On February 22nd, I’ll be leaving for a three-month trip to Zimbabwe.  As it’s been almost a year since I was last in Zimbabwe, I’m excited to have this opportunity to go back to assess the progress we’ve made over the past year.

More importantly, however, I’m looking forward to getting to spend some time with our students.  When I’m in Zimbabwe, I try to attend every Saturday rehearsal of the traditional music and dance group, as this is an excellent way for me to participate in a meaningful activity with the girls, and to participate in a cultural exchange with them as we share our mutual knowledge of Zimbabwean cultural arts.

I’m also looking forward to attending this year’s International Women’s Day celebrations in Zimbabwe, where our student will once again participate in the WE CAN mentorship program, which pairs girls with outstanding women leaders, giving them the chance to explore a career they are interested in, as well as interacting with women role models.

It’s amazing what a difference activities like the mentorship program can make in the lives of the students we work with.  Last year, one of our students, Tatenda C., developed a deep connection with her mentor, who has continued to support her by inviting her home to have a quiet place to study during school holidays, and offering her the chance of an internship this year.

Seeing the transformation that occurs in our girls’ lives as they have the chance to complete their educations, and to participate in empowerment activities such as the traditional dance group and mentorship program, always re-energizes me.  I’m sure that this trip to Zimbabwe, like every other, will inspire me to work even harder to continue to expand Tariro’s programs.

Three of the concrete goals I’ve set during the time I’ll be in Zimbabwe include:

Expanding the lending library to accommodate more students, by bringing donated books to add to our collection, as well as adding a second room on to the one we currently rent, in order to give girls space to hold study and tutoring sessions in the library.

Reaching out to community leaders in Glen Norah and Highfield, our primary areas, in order to develop our social networks and facilitate our work within the community.

Working with the four students who finished Advanced Level exams through Tariro last year, in order to explore the possibilities for them to attend college.  This will be the most challenging of my tasks, as the costs of attending college are much greater than those of attending secondary school.  I will soon write another post exploring this question in more detail!

During my trip to Zimbabwe, I will be updating the blog twice per week, so be sure to tune in to keep up with what is happening on the ground!  Remember, you can subscribe to the blog over email, to be notified every time a new post appears.  You can also share our blog with friends via facebook and other social networking sites by clicking on the “share this blog” button to the right.  Please help us to spread the word!

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