Tag Archives: girls


Meet Patience, a teacher at Chinhoyi High School: She was kind enough to let me, as the UR’s student intern, ask her some questions about how education in Zimbabwe is currently working, and how it affects her.  Her comments were … Continue reading

A profile of Morline W.

Morline W.

In today’s post, I’m writing to share another student profile. Fourteen years old, Morline W. lives with her widowed mother in the township of Epworth.   Located on the outskirts of Harare, Epworth is one of the poorest communities in urban Zimbabwe.

Morline was enrolled in Tariro in mid-2011, after the headmaster at Domboramwari Secondary School introduced her to us.  Throughout primary school, Morline’s mother struggled to pay her school fees, and Morline spent a significant amount of time out of school.  Once she was enrolled at Domboramwari, Morline’s mother would plead with the headmaster at the beginning of each term to allow Morline to come to class, despite the fact that she could not afford to pay her fees.  Because Morline is one of the most academically talented students in her year, the headmaster allowed her to come to school, but continued to keep track of the amount of money Morline’s mother owed in fees.

When the headmaster approached Tariro to assist Morline, our program coordinator Tafadzwa asked what the school is doing to assist students like Morline.  In their conversation, the headmaster pointed out that more than 50% of his students are orphans and vulnerable children, and that the school requires the money generated by tuition revenues to pay for teacher salaries, upkeep of the grounds, and administration.  His options were thus limited to allowing parents and guardians to come up with payment plans.  Morline’s mother was one of the parents who was trying to cover the costs of tuition through incremental payments, but she struggled to pay even the small sum of $5 US per month.

Morline dreams of becoming a doctor when she finishes school, but as her mother struggled so hard to pay her fees, she did not have confidence that she would be able to complete the Ordinary and Advanced level studies necessary for enrollment in university.  Now that she receives sponsorship from Tariro, however, she has increasing confidence that her dreams may become reality!

As Morline’s mother has observed, Tariro’s educational sponsorships not only enable orphaned and vulnerable girls to work toward their futures, but also some level of normalcy in the present for young women who have gone through extremely difficult times.  Thank you for joining us in support of our mission to educate and empower orphaned and vulnerable girls like Morline!

Tariro students achieve extraordinary success in O level results!

Yeukai K. is one of Tariro's many students to pass her O level exams this year!

Exciting news about Tariro’s 2011 pass rates!

I’m writing today with exceptionally encouraging news from our program coordinator, Tafadzwa Muzhandu.  As some of you already know, students enrolled in secondary school in Zimbabwe write Ordinary, or “O” level exams after finishing Form 4.  Their results on these exams determine whether or not they are able to proceed to Advanced, or “A” level study.  In the past, Tariro’s pass rates have significantly beaten the national average.  In 2010, for example, roughly 30% of our students passed their O-level exams, compared with only 16.5% of students nationally.  However, we still haven’t been satisfied with a pass rate of 30%, and have sought to implement a number of strategies to raise our pass rate.  These strategies have included extra-curricular tutoring and academic guidance counseling, as well as revisiting the schools we sent out students to, in order to ensure they are receiving quality instruction.

This year, we’ve seen our efforts result in huge gains for our students!  In 2011, sixteen Tariro students wrote O-level exams, and ten of them passed, giving us a much higher, 62% pass rate!  This is well above Zimbabwe’s 2011 national average of 19.5%.

What does this mean for our students, and for Tariro?

As Tafadzwa reports, our exceptionally high pass rate in 2011 means that we have a record number of six students proceeding to A-level study.  This potentially means that in three or four years, we will have five or more students enrolled at the University of Zimbabwe.  We’re so pleased to see our efforts paying off, and bringing tangible, positive results for our students!

This development also means that we have some additional fundraising to do!  A-level study is considerably more expensive than O-level study, especially as Tariro must be able to cover the costs of taking A-level exams once students finish the two years of Advanced level courses.  In addition, most A-level students required new uniforms, and more expensive textbooks.  Finally, career guidance counseling efforts must be intensified for A-level students, in order to ensure that they make a successful transition into University study.

We are committed to taking our students as far as they can go in school, extending to the level of a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Zimbabwe.  But we can’t do it without your help!  Please consider making a donation to assist Tariro in covering the additional costs of sponsoring such a high number of A-level students in 2012.  If you’d like to contact us to discuss making a donation, or propose a fundraising event on our behalf in your community, we’d also love to hear from you!

Letter of thanks from a Tariro family

As we move into the weekend, I’d like to offer you a short letter of thanks that Tariro recently received from Patience Chaitezvi, the aunt of one of our sponsored students, Gillian M.  Patience is a high school teacher in the town of Chinhoyi, several hours away from Harare.  She is also an excellent musician, and has toured the United States twice playing the mbira dzavadzimu, one of the best-known Zimbabwean instruments.

While the poverty line for an urban family Zimbabwe is pegged at $540 per month, school teachers such as Patience make an average of $253 per month, making the income from her tours abroad essential in supplementing her earnings as Patience raises her son Lionel.  In addition, Patience’s family has experienced several significant losses, leaving many orphaned children who Patience struggles to support.  Among them are the four children of her brother Endiby, who passed away in 2010.

While Endiby’s eldest daughters have secured scholarships to pursue university-level study, his younger son and daughter were at risk for dropping out of school.  As his daughter Gillian already attended Highfield High 1, one of the schools within Tariro’s sponsorship program, she applied for enrollment within our organization and was accepted shortly after her father’s death.  As you will read in Patience’s letter, Tariro’s executive director Jennifer Kyker also worked closely with Patience to recommend fundraising strategies through which Patience was able to raise funds for Gillian’s brother, who was not eligible for enrollment in our program due to our focus on working with teenaged girls.  Finally, Patience thanks us for sponsoring the daughter of yet another mbira player who passed away within the Highfield community, Silas Madziva.  Here is her letter, in full:

“Dear Tariro Organisation

“I have written this email to show my gratitude towards your organisation for helping me pay fees for Rutendo Gillian M. who is my niece.  Since the passing away of my brother last year I faced so many difficulties and one of them is paying fees for his kids.  But you made my life easier when you accepted Rutendo in your organisation.  You are as good as her guardians because you are helping build her future.  A child with no education does not have future.

“I thank you so much.  My brother was a breadwinner in my family and passing away meant a huge responsibility to me and yet my earnings can not sustain the family even for 2 weeks.

“When I came this year i did not even mention Rutendo because she is well taken care of.  I talked about Tapiwa who is her brother who needed fees since he is a brilliant young guy. I’m so happy I got ideas from Jennifer which made me have money for 3 terms.  I’m so grateful.

“Last but not least I thank you so much for paying fees for Silas Madziva’s daughter.  To me Silas Madziva is a brother because of his totem, the eland (Museyamwa).  Just before he died he told his relatives that when he passes on they should contact me, because I will be able to inform his American friends and they will help out send her daughter to school.  I did and Chris from Seattle did help a bit by and Tariro Organisation accepted her.  To me Silas, even though he has gone, his spirit is resting because he wanted his child to complete school though he did not leave any funds to help the daughter.  I thank you so much and hope you will continue with this loving spirit.

“NDATENDA CHAIZVO (I thank you so much)

I’ll leave you with a short clip on YouTube, which pairs some experimental images with a track of Patience playing with her late brother, and Gillian’s father, Endiby.

An update on our fundraising progress

Tariro students in Epworth, taken by one of our sponsored students during a Kids with Cameras workshop

As we move into the third week of our fundraising campaign, I’m please to announce that we have raised $2,548 toward our goal of $40,000.  Most of the donations we’ve received so far come from pledges made by our monthly donors, each of whom contributes between $15-$100 per month in support of our work.

Signing up to become a monthly donor is a wonderful way to show your commitment to supporting Tariro’s work.  It’s also a good way to make a huge difference in the life of a Zimbabwean girl, for only a small amount each month.  For the price of dinner out, a few cups of coffee, or a new album on iTunes, your monthly donation of only $20 enables us to pay a month of school fees for one of our sponsored students.

Please join us today, and help us achieve our fundraising goal of $40,000!

Tariro student profile: Pamela K.

Tariro student Pamela K. is excelling in her Advanced Level studies

As we move into the second week of our fall fundraising campaign, I’d like to share a profile of one of Tariro’s most outstanding students, Pamela K.  In addition to demonstrating her outstanding ability to overcome the hardships of her life and move toward academic success, Pamela’s story also demonstrates some of the things I love about the way Tariro works.

Tariro makes a long-term commitment to girls

Tariro’s involvement with Pamela’s family dates back to 2004, when we enrolled Pamela’s older sister Pauline as one of Tariro’s first sponsored students.  With an incredible story of her own, Pauline was our first student to graduate from the University of Zimbabwe, where she finished her Bachelor’s degree last year.  We’ve sponsored Pamela since 2007, when she enrolled in her first year of high school.  Our commitment to girls like Pamela and Pauline enables our students to dream big, confident in the knowledge that we will continue to sponsor them to the highest level of their ability.  It also enables us to witness the transformative power of an education, as students like Pamela learn, grow, and mature into empowered and educated women.

Tariro is making a difference for Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable girls

Pamela and Pauline lost their mother in 2000, and their father had long been absent, as a migrant worker trying to make ends meet in Harare.  After their mother’s death, Pauline moved to town to complete her Advanced Level studies, while Pamela remained in the family’s rural home in Mhondoro, living in a child-headed household with a brother who was then 16 years old. After her brother left to find work in South Africa, Pamela was left to fend for herself in Mhondoro.  Given Pamela’s situation, Tariro worked to transfer her to a school in Harare, where she was able to stay with her uncle, who was also housing Pauline.  After a short time, however, the girls’ uncle found himself unable to care for both of them, and kicked them out of his house.  As Pauline and her sister moved from relative to relative, Pamela found herself unable to attend school regularly, yet showed exceptional academic promise.

Tariro’s personalized approach to education enables girls to succeed!

After being recommended for a boarding school placement by Tariro staff, Pamela was transferred to the UMMA Institute, a boarding school located roughly an hour from Harare, in the town of Marondera.  After passing her Ordinary Level exams with high marks, Pamela chose to study Geography, Accounts and Management of Business for her Advanced Level study.  She plans to follow in her sisters footsteps and attend university, and dreams of becoming a social worker.

Join us in our work!

As girls like Pamela and Pauline struggle to finish a high school education, Tariro’s educational sponsorship program means the difference between life of poverty and hardship, and a future filled with hope.  By focusing on education, we give girls the tools to succeed.  But we can’t do it without your help!  Your donations to our fall fundraising campaign will go toward paying schools fees, required uniforms, supplies, and other educational expenses for Pamela, and all of the students we sponsor.  Please donate now, and help ensure that Tariro’s work with students like Pamela can continue in 2012.

More highlights from the 2010 Annual Report!

From left to right, Grace, Sabine, Dion, and Lissa all finished high school with Tariro's support.

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.

In low-income neighborhoods such as Epworth and Highfield, Tariro's students live in extremely vulnerable households, with little access to basic resources

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).

Guidance counselor Peggy Samhaka speaks with Tariro students as part of our ongoing psycho-social support services

  • 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!