By Ruth Purser
We’re thrilled to announce that Zimbabwe Educational Trust (ZET) has recently received a grant from the Department of International Development (DFID)! The grant was issued as part of the Jo Cox Memorial Fund with UK aid from the British people, and will fund the valuable work of the Rafiki Girls’ Centre. This is a huge step forward for ZET, and will help the Rafiki Girls’ Centre to reach even more girls in need.
The Centre is a lifeline to some of Harare’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable young women. Providing nine-month courses aimed at training, educating and empowering these young women, the DFID grant will fund the Rafiki programme for 3 years, totalling 240 girls divided into 6 groups of 40. The young ladies at Rafiki are all between ages 17-25 with enrolment particularly focused on women who are in extreme poverty, orphans, victims of abuse, have an incomplete education, or in the sex trade. These issues represent some of the main barriers to girls’ education in Zimbabwe.
In the first three months of the programme, the girls take introductory courses in: Business Management & Entrepreneurship, Health & Hygiene, Time Management, Computers, and Cooking. The programme also gives the girls access to HIV screening, encouraging students to bring a friend or community member along.
In the following three months the students specialise in courses such as Hotel & catering, pre-School Training, Interior Design, Nurse Aid and others before finally spending three or more months on a work placement in their specialist field. A highly competitive programme, the aim of the project is to empower women, giving them the confidence to be self-sufficient, ambitious and create a new life path for themselves.
Not only will this grant support the girls who take part, it also puts Rafiki Girls Centre in a better situation for future delivery by upgrading equipment and training staff to give them the capacity to continue to expand delivery of their programs.
ZET Operations Manager Andrew Jackson was delighted to announce the grant. “It’s fantastic news, the Rafiki Girls Centre have been delivering on this for years, so we know it works. 85% of graduates go on to get jobs or education within 6 months of completion which, given the circumstances is a fantastic success rate. We are delighted and proud to share this good news, we’re honoured to help support a much-needed initiative, run by Zimbabweans to empower the next generation”.
With gender equality and women’s empowerment at the centre of Rafiki’s remit, this programme provides young girls with tangible transferable skills that will allow them to excel and improve their quality of life. With the help of ZET in Leeds and the grant from DFID, Rafiki can take another important step towards creating a society where women are empowered to take charge of their lives and fully participate in society, every day, in every way.