Tag Archives: girls

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!

Jukwa performance by Tariro students

Filmed in 2009, this short clip shows students in Tariro’s traditional music and dance ensemble performing a rhythm called jukwa.  They are accompanied by Tariro’s wonderful music and dance instructor, Daniel Inasiyo.  Enjoy!

From Tariro’s director: Highlights from the 2010 Annual Report

A group of Tariro students at Chembira school, in Glen Norah

Between finishing my dissertation, being hired as a faculty member at Eastman School of Music, and moving across the country, it’s taken me a long time to finish editing this year’s annual report!  It is finally completed, and in the next few posts, I’m going to share some of the highlights of Tariro’s 2010 Annual Report with you. I’ll begin with highlights from our educational sponsorship program for girls in Zimbabwean communities affected by HIV/AIDS, which represents the central and most important aspect of our work.  In subsequent posts, I’ll proceed to expand upon the pyscho-social support programs we provide for our sponsored students, as well as some of the highlights of the work done by our many volunteers in the United States, in support of our programs in Zimbabwe.

In 2010, Tariro provided comprehensive education support for 57 students, including 8 students enrolled in the last years of primary school, 46 students enrolled in high school, and 3 students attending university.  This included 15 new students who were recruited into our programs to replace students who had finished high school in 2009.  For all of our sponsored students, we covered educational expenses including tuition, student ID cards, uniforms, and school supplies.

Tariro's director Jennifer Kyker with Pauline K., Tariro's first university graduate!

Tariro is especially proud of the following accomplishments in 2010:

  • We celebrated our first student to graduate from the University of Zimbabwe, Pauline K.
  • We have committed to continue sponsoring a second student, Tatenda C., who passed her Advanced level exams and was accepted as a first-year student at the University of Zimbabwe.  In addition to covering the costs of her education, Tariro has provided her with career guidance counseling and additional advocacy with University administration, enabling her to select an appropriate course of study at the UZ.
  • Our students collectively maintained a 98% attendance rate at school!  This incredibly high attendance rate was made possible in part by our monthly distribution of free sanitaryware to all sponsored students in need.
  • Six of our students won awards for academic excellence.
  • 16 Tariro students completed high school and wrote their Ordinary or “O” level exams in 2010; of these 16 students, 5 passed with scores high enough to qualify for Advanced or “A” level study, in preparation for attending university.
  • Finally, Tariro raised over $2,000 to send our student Noleen C., who was born with spina bifida and is confined to a wheelchair, to St. Giles school, where she is now receiving exceptional care and making good progress.

The dramatic results Tariro is able to achieve with our sponsored students are a result of intensive case management, including outreach activities at local schools, and regular monitoring of student progress via school and home visits.  In addition, we provide a range of support services for our sponsored students, such as a lending library, our annual empowerment camp, and our traditional music and dance program.  Highlights from these psycho-social support programs will
be the emphasis of my next post.

As we enter the fall fundraising season, please consider joining Tariro by making a donation, enabling us to continue making such a tremendous difference in the lives of our sponsored students.  Thank you for your support!

In the beginning: Thinking through the history of HIV/AIDS

How has HIV/AIDS been understood in the northern hemisphere? One answer is found in Paul Farmer's work on HIV/AIDS in Haiti. (click on map for a close-up view)

AIDS is a global problem and there should be a global solution found by the entire international community. It is really scary to see and imagine our world fall into pieces because we refuse to share and put in the common vestiges of our civilizations.            – Actress Sarah Polley speaks out on contamination, zombies, and AIDS

This weeks blog post, written by intern Megan Bauer, arose from conversations with the Tariro’s founder, Jennifer Kyker, over the past few months, and is Part 1 of a three-part discussion.  Today’s post is going to discuss the history of AIDS and how it began, followed by a discussion of all the groups who have been accused of spreading it, and finally, a look toward the future.

AIDS and accusation

While talking to Jennifer, she asked me what I have learned and found the most interesting since I have started my internship.  One of my answers was my surprise upon learning that the first diagnosed case of AIDS was in the United States, leading to our conversation about why, when people think of AIDS, their next thought is almost always about Africa.

Trying to understand why HIV/AIDS is coded as an African disease, Jennifer directed me a book called, “AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame”, written by Paul Farmer.  The book tells the story of how, when AIDS first got attention in the 1980’s, many people looking for the origins of the virus initially laid blame on Haiti, suggesting that Haitian migrants to the United States, as well as American tourists in Haiti, were primarily responsible for spreading the virus.

Looking at the History of HIV/AIDS

According to avert.org, “The first recognized cases of AIDS occurred in the USA in the early 1980’s.” At this time there was not a name for the condition and physicians were not yet aware of what they were up against. “Several physicians in Los Angeles observed that Pneumocystis carinii, a harmless parasite to those with intact immune defenses, had caused pneumonia (P.C.P.) in several young men without recognized states of immunodeficiency” (Farmer 125). The Center for Disease Control (CDC) began monitoring the drug distributions and noticed that in five of the cases for men being treated with PCP in Los Angeles all of them were active homosexuals:

By the end of the summer in 1981, 108 cases of Kaposi’s sarcoma, (a form of Cancer), and unexplained opportunistic infections had been reported to the CDC. The vast majority of cases were from California and New York. Of those afflicted 107 were men; over 90 percent of these men stated that they were gay and sexually active. (Farmer 125)

When the idea of an epidemic began to surface, American health specialists began reviewing records and saw that “there had been unexpected clusterings of Kaposi’s sarcoma and opportunistic infections beginning in early 1977” (Farmer 125).  Shortly after American specialists began noticing the unexpected clusterings Haitian physicians began seeing similar conditions of immunosuppression, leading to the detection of the first Haitian case of Kaposi’s sarcoma in June 1979 (Farmer 125).

Blaming Haiti

During this time fear of an epidemic began to surface, and the United States officially defined this unknown immunosuppression as AIDS.  There were categorized symptoms that physicians in the United States had come to associate with the disease and these symptoms “were strikingly similar” to those that began showing up in the people of Haiti.

This is precisely the moment in time when the accusations began. Physicians of the United States began to claim that Haiti had the first case of HIV, and that the gay population from the United States brought it back to America after contracting it from male prostitutes in Haiti.  People in the United States also made remarks that weren’t proven by science at all.  For example, they perceived Haitians who practiced voodoo to be “rugged and gross individuals,” and suggested had participated in spreading the condition to the United States.  From this point forward, tides of hate and blame began to intensify, leading the Haitian government to initiate a study entitled the Haitian Study Group on Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections (GHESKIO), to fight against these accusations.

The point of Farmer’s book is that since the beginning of time people have always looked for someone to blame, whether that group is Haitians, the gay community, or Africans.  However, we may never know who had the very first case of AIDS, and the origins of the virus should not be our primary concern.

Moving forward

In next weeks post I am going to delve farther into the history of accusations, discuss various groups who have been accused of spreading the disease since the initial blame laid upon Haiti, in order to show readers that blame and accusations have never been consistent with respect to HIV/AIDS, but have put on changing groups of people throughout history.  While people have often sought to blame someone for this terrible virus, however, its history remains unclear.

In the present, our job is to recognize that it doesn’t matter how the problem started- what matters is how we respond to HIV/AIDS right now.  Tariro’s response is one of educating young women and girls, a population that is simultaneously at the highest risk for contracting the disease, and the group made most vulnerable through the effects of HIV/AIDS on their communities, as they loss parents, teachers, and other community leaders to the disease.  Please join us in our work!