Shining Stars: the class of 2023

In Zimbabwe, women are marginalized and disadvantaged because of their gender, especially if they are living with HIV and in poverty. Social-economic injustice has forced many into sex work, because it seems to be their only way of survival. 

Each year, your support enables the Shining Star project to recruit a new group of these ladies and train them as sexual health peer educators, so they can empower their peers with knowledge that will help protect them from HIV, STIs and gender-based violence.

Your support also helps provide the Shining Star ladies with business and vocational training, helping them create pathways out of sex work, make positive changes in their lives and address the issues and challenges they face. 

The project provides a safe and supportive space for the ladies to connect with each other and with community resources, and it advocates for policies and programs that support the rights and well-being of sex workers. 

Shining Star ladies at the end of year celebration

At the end of 2023, a celebration was held to give thanks for the ladies that were trained throughout the year. This involved food, games and dancing! And, most importantly, the ladies were told that they had now qualified as Shining Star peer educators and were presented with certificates.

It left the Shining Stars of 2023 feeling valued, loved and appreciated!  

2023 Shining Star, Rudo

"I was a sex worker – I needed fast money to provide for my children. 

And, because my right hand does not function, I did not have any hope or plans for the future. At Shining Star, I learnt how to prevent HIV: about sticking to one partner; using condoms; and, when raped, how to get assistance with PEP.

They are helping me leave sex work, and I get comfort from their non-judgemental attitude. Financially, I was given business knowledge I did not have and start up capital. I learnt that my disability is not inability. I now sell perfumes, hair sprays and roll-ons, something I never thought I would be able to do with one hand. They helped me gain skills to provide for my family.

Without Shining Star, I would probably be dead, in jail or HIV positive because the situation I was in was suicidal and dangerous for myself and my children."

Rudo modelling