Zimbabwe: Shining Stars

The Shining Star team visit red light districts to speak to women who are engaged in the sex trade about joining the Shining Star programme as Peer Educators.

78 ladies from Bulawayo, Plumtree, Gwanda, and Hwange desired to change their lives and decided to join this year.

The ladies have embarked on this year-long programme, which provides training workshops to learn about leadership, communication skills and sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

Rumbie talking to ladies about the Shining Star programme

As peer educators, the ladies raise awareness and teach their peers about sexual health.

Business and vocational skills training are two of the other central elements of the Shining Star Project. So far this year, 68 ladies covered the core elements of running a business and learnt how vocational skills can benefit their future, as well as improve their community.

The ladies then make the decision as to which pathway they want to pursue further; to start their own business or seek vocational training in, for example, hairdressing, catering or tailoring. All the ladies get to participate in a skills workshop where they learn to make something practically (such as cleaning detergents or cream soda drinks), which they can then sell, in order to make an income and so have an alternative to selling their bodies for sex. 

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Reshaping the narrative for Teen Mums

Excitingly, 16 more teen mums have embarked on the Teen Mum Programme this year. The programme creates a safer, more supportive environment for young mothers. Parenting workshops from hospital professionals cover all areas of early childhood development. Teen mums also have career guidance sessions to help explore their educational and vocational options. Counsellors and dedicated mentors assist them in setting career goals and identifying suitable training and education options. 

A teen mum meetingIn collaboration with local business partners, the teen mums attend vocational training workshops, participate in income-generating projects, and have access to microfinance resources. So far, 4 of the teen mums have embarked on vocational training. 



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18-year-old Miriam says:

"I have learnt that having a child at a young age doesn’t define me. My parents came to the realisation that I can still reach my potential even as a teen mum. I have changed from living my life with no purpose or direction; I am now trying my best to live my life in a way that is good. I have chosen to go back to school. The project assisted me with school fees payment, currently, they have enrolled me at Westgate Training Centre where I am going to pursue a career in professional cookery and catering. I have learnt that HIV is dangerous, and I should use condoms and be faithful to one partner."