In this week’s post, I’m pleased to introduce Tariro’s September student of the month, Vanessa M. We first met Vanessa in 2008 at her home in Highfield, where she lives with her sister, brother, and a cousin, all of whom are cared for by their elderly grandparents. Despite being past the age of retirement, her grandfather has held on to his job as a laborer at Natprint, a government printing parastatal, in an effort to provide for his grandchildren. His small monthly income, however, is insufficient for the family’s basic needs. At the time we met the family, the three older children were attending school sporadically. Vanessa, however, had failed to register for kindergarten for a lack of school fees. In addition, her siblings did not have full uniforms or sufficient school supplies.
While Vanessa is significantly younger than our target group of girls entering their teenage years, the fact that she lives in a household supporting multiple orphans dramatically increases her vulnerability. We therefore decided to enroll Vanessa under our Executive Fund, which are offered on a case-by-case basis to children in situations of extreme vulnerability who fall outside of our major emphasis on teenage girls.
With support from the Executive Fund, Tariro enrolled Vanessa in kindergarten in the fall of 2008. Now finishing the 2nd grade at Mhofu Primary School, Vanessa came first in her class last term. We’re happy to be fostering a young student with such potential!
On a personal note, I’ll also add that Vanessa is a kick-ass nhodo player. Nhodo, a traditional game which resembles jacks, is played with several small rocks, called vana (children) which are placed in a small hole dug in the ground. A larger stone, called mudodo, is then tossed in the air as he player attempts to scoop a certain number of vana out of the hole, then catch the mudodo before it hits the ground.
Traditionally played by girls, Vanessa and Rudo are also often joined in playing nhodo by their cousins, Kundai and Dennis. Much like our traditional music and dance group, nhodo is a great activity for kids who live in a resource-poor setting, as they can play with minimal materials, which are easily found in everyday settings. More complex versions of nhodo also communicate skills and concepts in mathematics, including counting, multiplication, and factors.
Thanks for reading this post about Tariro’s student of the month, and the traditional Shona children’s game of nhodo! Next up, I’ll have a more general update on our work in Zimbabwe.