An important aspect of Shining Star’s model is its welcoming and family-style dynamic. As well as training on sexual health, vocational skills and business skills, and monthly meetings to share and report back on their outreach, the peer educators also take part in team-building exercises – and have the opportunity to attend an annual weekend camp.
Last year, Shining Star project ran outdoor team building activities. 26 peer educators spent the day at the park enjoying various games where they had to communicate well and work together, strengthening their bond.
19-year-old peer educator Sarah explains how Shining Star has become like a family to her:
"I lost my parents in 2002 and they left me with two siblings to take care of. Life became so hard that I had no choice but to venture into sex work, which is what l have been doing to earn a living. I didn’t manage to complete my education.
After entering sex work, my life has been a big challenge, my relatives disowned me, the community labelled me and called me all sorts of bad names. I had no hope, the only things I thought of was to make money, find sugar daddies, go to Vuzu parties.
Shining Star welcomed me and never judged me. I learnt self-confidence, to make independent decisions and not be pressurised by anyone. I was empowered to have wisdom to know right from wrong. I learnt that talking is therapy. Bottling up issues leads to mental health issues. I have potential to be a great person, I now have a positive attitude towards myself, others and life in general.
The project also financed my studies and I wrote my ’O’ level exams in 2021. I now have dreams and I want to study further in IT.
Without Shining Star? It brings me tears to think about it, I would be still wandering the streets. Most probably I would be immersed deep in sex work as it seemed the only option I had at that time.
May you continue to spread this love to others who will come after us. Let’s continue to grow this family and may your doors be forever open."