As promised, I’m following up on my first post detailing our successes in 2010, with more highlights from Tariro’s 2010 Annual Report. Today, I’d like to focus on Tariro’s psycho-social support services, designed to enable students to focus on moving beyond their challenges and obstacles, and working toward realizing their future goals.
As teenaged girls in communities deeply affected by poverty and HIV/AIDS, our students are among the most vulnerable young people in Zimbabwe. In addition to coping with the death of one or both parents, our girls have to meet the daily challenges of living in neighborhoods with intermittent electricity and running water, and where average family incomes fall far below the poverty line. As Tariro’s program coordinator, Fadzi, writes in the Annual Report:
Many of Tariro’s parents and guardians are informally employed, and earning on average $50-$100 per month. Most guardians do not own the houses they live in; hence most are paying rentals, of between $50 and $100 per month. The average school fees for a Tariro student in day high school is $90-$100 per term. Whilst the school fees structures have become more stable, and parents are allowed to sign up for payment plans, the fees are very high relative to the incomes of most guardians. Additionally, some of the parents and guardians are taking care of more than 2 orphaned and vulnerable children (OVCs).
While paying school fees in enough to get a student back in school, offering students psycho-social support services is also essential in ensuring their success, by enabling them to work through underlying issues related to grief, loss, and abuse.
In 2010, Tariro’s psycho-social support services included:
- Our fifth annual Empowerment Camp, led by volunteer therapist Lauri Benblatt of Boulder, Colorado, was designed to encourage sponsored girls to reach their social and academic potential. As in 2009, the Empowerment Camp was funded by a grant from the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
- The introduction of ongoing counseling activities throughout the year in order to response to our students’ psycho-social needs outside of the context of the empowerment camp. These included monthly group counseling sessions held by guidance counselor Peggy Samhaka and life skills coordinator Shepherd Wazara, open to all students enrolled in our programs.
- One-on-one mentoring opportunities, which saw five Tariro students participate in the US Embassy’s mentoring program, centered around International Women’s Day, as well as 25 Tariro students paired with Zimbabwean undergraduate student mentors studying in the United States, through the USAPCares program.
- Weekly traditional music and dance classes open to all students, providing girls with a safe environment to develop self-confidence, new skills, and positive relations with their peers.
Tariro’s mentoring, counseling, and empowerment activities are critical in enabling our students to develop the motivation, confidence, and abilities to succeed.
Show your support for Tariro!
In the coming weeks, Tariro will begin raising money to support our students’ progress in 2012. As we move into our fall fundraising season, please consider making a donation to support our work. You can also join us on Facebook, and help spread the word about us to friends and family. Getting involved with Tariro is a wonderful way to make a difference in the lives of young women and girls in Zimbabwe!