Category Archives: Student voices: meet Tariro's students

Tariro students excel: get recognition!

One  wise man once said that good news is rare these days, and every glittering ounce of it should be cherished like a priceless diamond. Today,  I am sharing a piece of good news concerning two of our beneficiaries, Moleen and Melody. For most of you who have been following our posts, you may already be familiar with these two.


Moleen in her school uniform

Councilor Moleen

Well, there is Moleen, who is currently doing her Lower Six (from 5) at Harare High school. She has been recently sworn into the Junior Council. This is a form of local government run by juniors, usually lower six students, and it runs parallel to the senior council. Through the Junior Council   the young people of the City of Harare have a means by which they may make known their opinions and feelings, and are encouraged to participate actively in the affairs of the City. Naturally those appointed to council positions have to be smart, show a genuine concern for their community, display leadership qualities and be willing to dedicate to the demanding program.

Moleen’s will to win and desire to succeed have, in  no doubt, played a major role in her getting to such levels. We believe through  her, empowerment is going to reach many other youths.

Melody’s big heart rewarded

Melody is our student in her second year at the University of Zimbabwe. She recently received an award from the University’s Vice Chancellor, Prof  Nyagura for  being helper of the year.  Melody volunteered to be an assistant to a fellow student who is blind. Melody’s commitment and dedication to helping this and other handicapped students saw her being voted for the award. The electors were handicapped students at the university.

As Tariro we are  happy and gladly invite you to share the joy. For melody and Moleen, we are happy for your milestones and may the spirit of giving back to the community continue to dwell in you.

Melody in 2009


Third and final term begins!

The third and final term of the Zimbabwean academic calendar has started, considered by some as the shortest; it comes as the defining term for most students who will be sitting for their national examinations. We have students in Tariro who will be writing their final examinations this term. Three of them will be writing their grade seven examinations, this examination is a terminal examination for the primary school students, and they will be going to secondary level.

Grade seven candidates

This year it will be Rufaro M, Fadzai M and Noleen C; These girls will be seating for their Grade Seven examinations in October. Fadzai and Rufaro  have, behind them, a satisfactory academic performance and we even featured them in previous blogs for having won academic prizes of excellence. Most of you may now be familiar with Noleen C, a special needs student whom we sponsor. She is is quite excited about writing her final examinations.

Four subjects, Maths, English, an indigenous language , General paper (a combination of natural and social sciences) will be examined at the Grade Seven examinations.

Noleen C at her home in Norton

Noleen C at her home in Norton

We would like to wish our girls all the best as they seek to crossover from primary to secondary education. This is also an opportunity for us to thank those of you who have been assisting us to realize our mission of educating and empowering young women and girls in communities affected by HIV/AIDS.

Fadzai displaying a certificate of academic excellence that she was awarded when at the end of her grade 6 year.

Meet one of our rising stars Rufaro M.

‘To be educated means… I will not only be able to help myself, but also my family,
my country, my people. The benefits will be many.’

These touching words were said by Meda Wagtole, a schoolgirl from Ethiopia and they are full of promise and hope for improved individuals, families, communities and the world at large.

In today’s post, I am quite happy to note that most of our beneficiaries carry the same sentiment. Let me introduce to you one of our promising star, Rufaro M. Rufaro stays with her father who is also struggling to make ends meet as a vendor in Zimbabwe’s constricting economy.

Rufaro is doing her grade 7 at Chembira primary school. While in Shona language  “rufaro” means happiness Rufaro’s story has been a capricious one with her missing out school due to non-payment of fees, lacking food and adequate clothing.

Fortunately, Rufaro is bright in school and last term she got an award for academic excellence. Rufaro is also active in Traditional dance and last year her team at Chembira reached the traditional dance provincial finals where they emerged on position 3. She is also an integral member of the Tariro dance ensemble.

Rufaro wishes to be a doctor and help other less privileged children in her situation. She is thankful to Tariro for the help she is getting and has never missed school due to non payment of fees or uniforms ever since.

At Tariro, we are glad to be assisting her as we know that odds against her are being lessened with each year of basic education that she gets.

ImageRufaro M in her traditional dance regalia, after a performance.

Tariro needs your help – donate now to send our students to University!

Tariro's student Tariro (yep!) needs YOUR help to attend university this fall!

Tariro’s student Tariro (yep!) needs YOUR help to attend university this fall!

As the beginning of September approaches, we need your help to ensure that the Tariro students who have been accepted to the Zimbabwean university system are able to attend! At this point, we are $6,000 short of the money we need to cover the school fees for the sixty students we are sponsoring this term, including our three university students, and time is fast slipping away. Please consider making a donation to help us!

As you may already know, the name of our organization, Tariro, means “Hope,” and is a common names for girls among Zimbabwe’s Shona speaking communities. And today’s featured, university-bound student is named Tariro!

As our program coordinator Fadzie writes, Tariro K. has a passion for helping others. Reflecting the deep influence our program has made in her life, she has decided to enroll in a social work program, with the ultimate goal of working with vulnerable children. She has been accepted to Bindura University, which belongs to the Zimbabwean public university system.

Tariro has been enrolled in our program since 2009, when she was in Form 3. Soon after writing her Form 4 exams, her widowed mother moved the family to a new neighborhood, in search of affordable housing, and Tariro missed a year of school. Finally, we located her and learned that she had passed her Ordinary Level exams. reinstated her file, and paid for her to continue as an Advanced Level student.

We’re very proud of Tariro’s accomplishments, as well as those of her university-bound peers Politeness N. and Melody M. But we can’t help her proceed to university level study without your assistance! Please consider giving to Tariro today to help us cover the cost of sending our students to school!

Introducing our university students!!!

Melody M. is one of three Tariro students who will begin attending University this fall

Melody M. is one of three Tariro students who will begin attending University this fall

It’s been a quiet summer… but we’re still here! As we move toward the end of summer, it is time to introduce the three Tariro students who will be attending university this fall.
First among them is Melody M., who originally joined Tariro as an Ordinary or “O” level student in 2008. Melody lives with her aunt and uncle in a stable home. Melody has occasionally missed school to take care of her aunt, who has health challenges, yet she remains passionately focused on her schoolwork. After receiving a very high score on her “O” Level exams, Melody went on to Advanced, or “A” Level study, in preparation for attending college. Finally, that day has arrived!

Last year, Melody was one of five Tariro students to pass her “A” Level exams, receiving a score of 13 out of a possible 15 points. Melody’s score was not quite high enough for her to study her first choice of subject, which was law. However, she was accepted to the University of Zimbabwe for a degree in sociology. And as Tariro’s program coordinator, Tafadzwa “Fadzie” Muzhandu, writes:

I believe she will be able to do Law at a later stage if she remains focused. Melody is very cheerful and able to interact with people from diverse backgrounds.

During Melody’s time as a Tariro student, she has benefited immensely from our innovative programming, including opportunities to participate in mentoring programs through the United States Embassy, to explore career options by getting into scrubs at St. Anne’s Hospital, and to borrow books from our lending library. As Fadzie also observes:

She loves reading and has borrowed the most books from the Tariro Library.

Please join Tariro! Your help is critical to ensuring Melody’s success, so please donate now! We need your support in order to continue sponsoring Melody throughout the three years it will take her to complete a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Zimbabwe, as well as continuing to offer educational opportunities to other young girls. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of Zimbabwe’s young women.

I will leave you with a few photos of Melody, so you can see how she has matured over her years with Tariro, growing into the lovely woman she is today.

Melody, one of Tariro's rising stars

Melody in 2008

Melody in 2009

Melody in 2009

Melody today

Melody today


In Memory: Ambuya Kundai

Ambuya Kundai's passing means greater hardship for her four orphaned grandchildren

Ambuya Kundai

It is with great sadness that I write to report the passing of one of Tariro’s grandmothers, Ambuya Kundai. Truly dedicated to her grandchildren, Ambuya Kundai was raising four orphaned and vulnerable children at the time of her death late last month, all of whom have been sponsored by Tariro for many years. Three of her grandchildren, Kundai, Rudo, and Vanessa, are siblings who lost first their father, then their mother, and next their paternal grandmother, who initially cared for them following the death of their parents. A fourth grandchild, Dennis, is a cousin to the other three siblings.

Given the desperate circumstances in which this family found themselves, Tariro made an exceptional decision to sponsor Kundai and Dennis, Ambuya Kundai’s two male grandchildren, in addition to the two girls, Rudo and Vanessa. While our primary focus is on educating girls, on very infrequent occasions during our early years as an organization, we perceived a compelling reason to extend our sponsorship to the male siblings of an already-enrolled female student. With her very limited income, advanced age, and exceptional responsibilities, Ambuya Kundai struck us as one of these extraordinary cases.

Ambuya Kundai's four orphaned grandchildren Kundai, Vanesaa, Rudo, and Dennis, pictured here with their cousins Jessie and Tinashe.

Ambuya Kundai’s four orphaned grandchildren, pictured here with two of their cousins. From left to right: Kundai, Vanessa, Rudo, Jessie, Tinashe, and Dennis. Photo taken in 2008.

The loss of their maternal grandmother is a terrible final blow for Kundai, Rudo, Vanessa, and Dennis, who are all currently between 10 and 17 years old. As she passed away so recently, we are still unsure as to whether these four children will be able to remain in the same home with surviving relatives, or whether they will have to move yet again. It is possible that they will experience substantial instability in the coming months, as the various families involved- their fathers’ families, the family of Ambuya Kundai, and their maternal grandfather’s family- discuss who can best care for them. As we learn more about the family’s plans, I will continue to post updates on whether these four children are able to remain in their neighborhood, and in Tariro’s programs.

As Americans mourn the loss of so many children to the violence plaguing our society, Zimbabwean children like Kundai, Rudo, Vanessa, and Dennis are also mourning, as they grieve the loss of multiple, successive family members. What can we do in the face of so much loss? For me, the answer has always been to take small, yet tangible steps toward social change. Write to a senator, demanding better gun control. Choose not to own or use a gun. Study peace. Enable a single girl to return to school. Buy her a uniform, and give her access to books. In this way, Tariro began, and in this spirit, we continue to work, doing our best to honor to the memory of Ambuya Kundai, and all of the many relatives our students have lost.

Tariro gives thanks!

Tariro student Ashley B.

On Thanksgiving Day, I wanted to write a short post giving thanks for yet another Tariro success story!  After meeting with our program coordinator Fadzie Muzhandu last month, I have updates about several students who are making good progress and achieving impressive things. I’ll begin by sharing the story of our student Ashley B.

Ashley’s background

From the rural area of Mhondoro, Ashley attended Rwizi Secondary School. Already enrolled in Form 4 when she joined Tariro in 2008, Ashley was looking forward to completing her Ordinary Level exams, and hoped to join another Rwizi student, Tatenda C., for Advanced Level study. Like many of our students at the time, however, Ashley’s chances of success were crippled by the economic and political crisis facing the country in 2008, and her exam results were not high enough for her to be admitted for her A-Levels.

Overcoming initial failure

Undaunted, Ashley joined Tariro’s embroidery club, and began to sew panels, saving the proceeds from her work  in order to pay the required fee to retake her O-Level exams. No longer enrolled in school, she continued to study on her own, using whatever time she could spare from doing household chores.

On her third attempt, Ashley’s dedication finally paid off, and she passed her O-Level exam. Given how hard she had struggled to pass, Ashley made the decision not to pursue A-Level study. Instead, she decided to concentrate on finding a paying position in the formal sector right away- not an easy task in a country with unemployment levels that range between 80-90%.

Finding a job

As you might imagine, Ashley approached finding a job with the same motivation she had put into her studies, researching her options, and ultimately deciding to join the Zimbabwe Republic Police. After successfully completing her training, she is now working as a policewoman in the city of Bindura, located 65km north of Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare.

Giving thanks for successful outcomes!

Nine years ago, Tariro began sponsoring our first, small group of students in the Mhondoro rural areas, where Ashley grew up. Today, we’re thankful that we’ve been able to expand and maintain our program over the years, empowering girls like Ashley to complete a high school education.

As we approach our tenth year, we’re incredibly grateful for the ongoing support of so many of the donors and friends who have enabled our work. Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving!