‘The initiative is yielding good results as we only recorded 3 teenage
pregnancies in the last 10 months, compared to 33 during the same
period last year.’
Sr. Tsikira, Nurse at the Community Clinic
‘All the youth sessions facilitated by Restless Development were
effectiveand informative and as Matabeleland AIDS Council we would
love to continue working with you to educateand improve the lives of
young people in this community.’
Programme Manager for Matabeleland AIDS Council
Tshitshi ward of Mangwe District, Matabeleland South is close to the borders with South Africa and Botswana, prompting many young people to illegally cross the borders in search of elusive jobs and livelihood opportunities. Often they are exploited and coerced into lives of crime, sex work and drugs.
Restless Development implemented a Youth Empowerment Programme in the area of livelihoods and health. We partnered with Matabeleland AIDS Council (MAC), to raise awareness of health issues through sporting events and carried out life skills guidance sessions.
We established STAR (Societies Tackling AIDS through Rights) Circles and trained Volunteer Peer Educators (VPEs) to mobilise young people to participate. VPEs opened up debate around taboo issues such as sexual and reproductive health, and HIV positive speakers provided firsthand insights into the challenges they have faced. A youth-friendly resource centre was established at the local clinic. We ran career guidance sessions and invited speakers to relate their experiences of accessing the professions. We provided personalised support to help young people develop their career plans and pursue relevant education and training.
‘Exposure to career guidance and counseling session opened up a new world for me. I previously did not know that such opportunities existed and could be accessed by people like me in the rural areas.’
Lipha Ngwenya, now a student nurse at St Luke’s Brunapeg Nursing School
The initiative proves that by supporting youth to match their abilities to education and income-generation opportunities, it is possible to break the cycle of poverty in Mangwe, and for young people to enter formal employment.
Through doing so they gain an incentive to protect their health, an outcome which has been supported by the introduction of youth-friendly services and awareness-raising activities in the area.
The twenty-eight individuals who accessed education and training have become role models in their communities. They now serve as mentors to in-school youth and deliver presentations in schools and communities to encourage young people to follow their lead. They are a powerful demonstration that it is possible to tackle poverty in Mangwe, and a deterrent to young people considering the dangerous and illegal path of immigration to South Africa and Botswana.
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