In this week’s post, we’re happy to share a report from our good friend Tess, who recently traveled to Zimbabwe, where she met many of our students, and took some great photos to share! Here is Tessa’s post:
This summer I spent just under a month in the Harare region of Zimbabwe. Thanks to a friend/dance teacher of mine, Jennifer Kyker Bangoura, I had amazing connections there, including her non-profit organization, Tariro.
Tariro does some of the most important work in Zimbabwe, as far as I’m concerned, sending at risk and/or orphaned adolescent girls to school. Studies show that sending a girl to school will make her 3 times less likely to contract HIV, and have the ability to earn 25% more income. What stands out to me the most is simply providing a platform for these girls to actually have some choice as to which direction their life may take.
In Zimbabwe, as a young woman, the options and opportunities are not nearly as abundant as they are for us here in America. For a young girl who is living with extended family, even sometimes taking care of all the younger and/or older ones, it’s much more difficult to finish one’s education and choose one’s own path in life. School needs to be paid for and often these families cannot afford to pay the fees. When this happens, the girls’ options are drastically reduced. In a culture where it is already somewhat difficult to escape gender specific expectations, without the opportunity of education, it becomes nearly impossible. Tariro currently supports over 60 girls. That is over 60 lives that are given an opportunity to fulfill dreams and live up to their full potential. Amazing!
Aside from paying school and uniform fees, Tariro also provides traditional music and dance for the girls. Every Saturday, the girls get together to practice. This includes marimba and magavhu (leg shaker) dances as well as marimba music and singing. What blew me away is how this type of tradition seems to live in them. It is their culture and Tariro sees the importance of keeping the culture and tradition alive. I had conversations with several Zimbabweans about the traditional culture being lost. It seems that tradition is no longer “cool” and the culture is becoming somewhat Americanized. It filled my heart with joy to see how the girls move and sing, with such grace. Their dance teacher, Daniel, is amazing and I officially had my butt whooped in my dance lessons with him!
The girls were shy, sweet, and talented. I cannot begin to say enough positive things about both Jennifer (founder) and Tafadzwa (program coordinator) and what powerful examples they are for these girls. As empowered, educated women in the world, they are doing good work and the girls get to see that and be inspired. I am inspired!
When looking for ways to give to make the most impact, please consider this organization. I have discovered that small, on the ground, grass roots organizations are doing the best work, where the money is going where it is most needed rather than the majority of it getting tied up in marketing and administrative costs. Having met these girls and seeing life in Zimbabwe has only made me more passionate about this cause and it’s importance. I can’t think of a more positive way to give and to change lives for the better.
Thanks so much to Tessa, for her powerful reflections on our work! Tessa also maintains a wonderful blog, where she has many other wonderful photos from her trip.