At the Rafiki Girls Centre, the young women are provided with a nine-month-long course offering the chance to develop both personal and vocational skills. The focus of the first three months is . The aim is to improve the confidence in the young women and their ability to live independently through workshops. These empowerment workshops cover essential life skills such as financial planning, business and computer skills, and cooking. They also cover areas such as human rights and sexual and reproductive health. An essential part of the Rafiki programme is voluntary HIV testing. Rafiki believes as many as two thirds of its students are at high risk of contracting or living with the virus. Voluntary testing is followed up by counselling for the girls and their family members. Rafiki also runs HIV/AIDS workshops that offer useful information to prevent the spread of the virus, aim to reverse the stigma around it, and promote positive and sensible practices. Every week the girls engage in a two-hour class on HIV/AIDS which informs them of some of the ways to best tackle and live with the virus. During class they learn how to eat nutritiously, to take necessary medication and are encouraged to regularly visit health centres. Rafiki also encourages its students to accept the positive status of themselves or their loved ones and to find solidarity by joining HIV support groups.
The aim of the final six months of the Rafiki Programme is to improve the girls' professional skills, networks and employability. This begins with classroom-based training in a specialism of their choice, including: hospitality, cosmetology, teaching and nursing. It finishes with a work placement with a partner employer, enabling them to gain professional experience and network with employers. As a result, around 85% of all Rafiki graduates have gone onto access further education or training. In a country where unemployment is estimated to be as high as 80% and less than 35% of girls complete secondary education, this is a remarkable feat.
One recent example that demonstrates the transformative power of Rafiki is Patricia. Before arriving at the centre she was in a vulnerable position with little formal education. Throughout the course she learned various skills, such as catering, sewing and business management. After graduating, she has able to use these skills to set up her own business. At first, she ran her business from her family home in the local community, offering services relating to catering, the design and creation of clothing and homeware, interior design and wedding planning. Since then, Patricia has been hugely successful in growing her business. Now, she has large corporate clients and her own office, and subsequently has enough income to support herself and her family. Thanks to Rafiki, Patricia has been able to transform her future and prove what she is capable of, something she previously thought could never happen.
Please see our 'Incentives' section to find out what difference your donation could make to the Rafiki programme.
Zimbabwe Educational Trust (ZET) is a Leeds based charity working in partnership with 3 grass-roots organisations in Zimbabwe. Principall...