Give to our work this week, and your donation will be MATCHED!
This week, help us raise more champions to protect children and young people in Africa and the UK.
Give between midday on the 1st December and midday on the 8th and your donation will be matched in the Big Give Christmas Challenge - one donation double the impact!
This year, we are hoping to raise £20,183 in the 7 days to help fund three projects in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and the UK in 2021.
The money raised will help train and equip 450 new champions next year - youth workers, parents, teachers, peer educators, and church leaders - to deliver transformative relationships and sex education, and vocational skills training. This will mean positive health outcomes for 42,000 children and young people in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and the UK.
Why is this work needed?
Alarming numbers of children in Africa and the UK are exposed to multiple threats to their wellbeing. Porn, violence, sexual exploitation, and social media pressures result in devastating harm to their emotional, relational, and sexual health.
An increasing number of girls are turning to sex work to survive despite it being criminalized in Zimbabwe. Multiple studies show that up to 40% of women in prostitution started this work prior to age 18: we know of girls as young as 12 that are selling their bodies to provide for basic necessities. and a third of new HIV infections are among youth. 32% of girls in Zimbabwe are married before the age of 18 and 4% are married before their 15th birthday
19% of Nigerian children experience sex before 15, and child marriage is rife. 44% of girls in Nigeria are married before their 18th birthday and 18% are married before the age of 15. Nigeria has the third-highest number of child brides in the world. Cultural attitudes towards parenting in Nigeria mean that 90% of children between 2 and 14 are subject to psychological or physical punishment in the home. 61% of caregivers believed that physical punishment is necessary in the raising of children.
In the UK, 51% of 11-13 year olds report seeing porn at some point, rising to 66% of 14-15 year olds. Children seeing these images described feeling “grossed out” and “confused.” 75% of parents surveyed by the British Board of Film Classification last year felt that their child would NOT have seen porn online! However, of their children, 53% said they had in fact seen it which illustrates the huge gap in parents’/carers’ perceptions of their child’s world and what their child is actually experiencing in life.
The three projects
The Shining Star Project in Zimbabwe trains and equips girls and women engaged in sex work as sexual health peer educators, so they can share newfound knowledge and improve the health of other sex workers in the community. Through income generation skills, business management skills, and vocational training courses, the peer educators are invited to explore new talents and create pathways out of the sex trade for those ready to take this courageous step. Half of the peer educators recruited for the project are teenagers who reach out to other adolescent sex workers.
"I dropped out of school as we had no money. Life was difficult - I became a sex worker. But, I found out about the Shining Star Project. I did vocational training there and I am now back at school doing beauty therapy. The Shining Star Project took me out of the darkness and brought me to light." Fadzai, 18 years old, a former sex worker in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
ACET Nigeria trains and supports community members so they can set up and run Kids' Clubs and Esteem Clubs for teenagers, where children and young people can learn about relationships and sexual health in a safe environment. ACET Nigeria's engaging Better Parenting training course provides parents with skills for positive parenting and equips them to teach other parents how to support and encourage their children in reaching their full potential. Some of the trained parents form Better Parenting forums in their communities.
"Before I came to the Esteem Club I didn’t understand HIV and how it spreads. I thought if you have sex for the first time you can’t get HIV. My favourite thing about coming here is talking about relationships and health. Through this project, I learnt I am unique in my own way and I can now make good decisions." Ayo, 15 years old, Anyigba, Nigeria
In the UK, the Esteem relationships and sex education programme is two-fold. Firstly, we deliver engaging, interactive relationships and sex education directly to young people in secondary schools, alternative education provision and other youth settings in London and Cheshire. In the second part of the Esteem Programme, we train, equip and support teachers, youth workers, health professionals and other educators so they can support the young people in their care in navigating issues around relationships and sex.