Martha and Judith are part of Makomborero’s 2018 Intake and graduated following their A-Levels in 2019. In the time before going to University, they witnessed the pressing issues faced by the young women in their community and decided to do something about it. Here is their inspiring story.
I did not take a gap year by choice but because I had been waitlisted and rejected by most of the universities in the United States that I had applied to.
Right after graduating from Makomborero, I looked for a job to keep me busy, gain experience and get something to boost my application for the 2021-2022 application cycle. I got lucky and worked with one of the most inspiring change makers, Simbarashe Mufunde at The Maker Club. Surprisingly, I ended up loving facilitating robotics, electronics and coding classes. My favourite class was Shona coding classes in Dzivarasekwa.
Three months passed and then the pandemic changed everything. In a heartbeat, I felt like I was back where I started two years ago – at home again with nothing productive to do.
Nyatsime is an isolated community on the outskirts of Chitungwiza. The area is just being built (new stands). It has no proper infrastructure in place and is an economically depressed community with many people relying on vending to make ends meet.
Staying at home was not easy and neither was meeting my friends or family.
I began to explore the place I had called home for the past 4 years, which I barely knew, because of work and school. I started by exploring the beautiful scenery in front of my house with my friend Judith, a Makomborero ’19 alumnus.
When the lockdown restrictions eased, I got a chance to interact with many people in my community. I began to notice that most of the young, teenage girls had eloped or become pregnant, less than two months after the beginning of the lockdown.
It struck me that the lack of knowledge, a lack of something productive to do and not having the mentality of being independent and sustaining themselves as a young lady, led many young, vulnerable girls to fall prey to older men.
I was not going to take a gap year. I decided to apply to a local university, the University of Zimbabwe. Soon after graduating from Makomborero Zimbabwe, I too searched for some part-time jobs, and once I worked at a local wholesale shop as a till operator. I had to stop working at the shop due to the pandemic, so I started volunteering, helping school children in my area with their studies. Subsequently Martha and I discovered that so many teenage girls in our community were rushing into marriage because they had nothing productive to do. That is when we made up our minds and started a girls’ club.
We decided to start a community organisation / club that addressed the challenges young girls faced in Nyatsime. Our club is called “Girl up Nyatsime”.
Our community organisation is aimed at advocating for the rights and engagement of females in Nyatsime through three actions. These are as follows:
We are trying to get girls to strive for what they want and not wait for handouts. We realised one of the main reasons girls entered into sexual relationships with older men was because they wanted what they could not afford.
Once you are not paying for something / working hard for it, it means you become the product being sold. We felt because we had the knowledge to turn things around, we could help stop vulnerable girls from being made the “product”.
We are trying to teach them about starting their own small businesses, be it selling sweets or a Musika, just to teach them what it is like to work for what they want.
Within our club we have started fundraising and growing our money. Every girl in the club is expected to work hard and bring money to the club. Our goal is that by the end of November, every girl in the club should afford to buy their own sanitary pads every month as a start
2. Sporting activities
In Form 3, (at about 16 years old), most girls are going through puberty and their bodies are going through changes and developing. At that same time, most of the girls, who manage to stay in school, drop out of sport because they lose confidence and do not embrace the bodily changes they are going through.
Our aim is to get girls to participate in sport at school and in the community. We have been privileged to receive help from Female Inspiration Through Rugby, under Tag Rugby Trust Zimbabwe, to help girls feel more comfortable, confident and embrace their bodies so they can take part in sports.
3. Community service
It’s been hard convincing people here to get involved in giving back to the community without getting anything tangible in return. Our goal is to foster the spirit of Ubuntu through community service. This goal also includes working with young males in our community to also educate them and try to maintain the gender balance and not give too much attention to one gender.
Despite the lockdown and getting wait-listed, I have found something I’m very passionate about. My gap year is going way better than I expected and the support I get from fellow Makomborero Alumni has been overwhelming. It has been an absolute pleasure working with Judith, who is just as passionate.
Working with the highly opinionated and intelligent, yet sadly vulnerable young ladies has been an absolutely life-changing experience on my part!