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In Zimbabwe, the Shining Star Project is giving adolescent girls working in the sex trade the opportunity to learn vocational skills such as hairdressing, peanut butter making, tailoring and floristry.
They are also provided with business skills training to learn how to run their own business. The project enables girls to exit sex work. offers them space to explore their potential, and allows them to learn about God’s love for them if they would like to.
Nyasha*, peer educator told us:
“I had some counselling with one of the Shining Star peer educators. This made me make up my mind that I want to leave sex work and change my life. Before I came to the project, I was experiencing low self-esteem. Now I can stand before people and I feel like I’m someone. Now I feel more free. The Shining Star Project has helped me to have a vision and have goals in life. My mind has been opened, and I’m willing to work hard to be able to exit sex work. In the future I’d like to go to university to be a journalist.”
Our UK Esteem team, Gareth, Esther and Paul, deliver our Esteem relationships and sex education programme directly to young people in various settings. We also train and resource youth workers, teachers, parents and church leaders. Through our members, a committed network of 123 trained educators, we are reaching more than 30,000 young people across the UK each year.
Peter*, a sixth form student from London had this to say about his Esteem lessons:
“The sessions create an environment where we can have sensible discussions about sensitive topics. Before Esteem, we last had sex education in primary school. The teen years are a time where we begin to experience things we were told at a young age and essentially didn’t understand. As a result, we now have questions based on new experiences. Esteem is important because for a lot of young people it is the only advice and guidance they will receive on sex. It has given me a better insight on how to make decisions about relationships and sex in the future.”
The Esteem Programme is also having a significant impact in Nigeria, where trained ACET Nigeria staff and volunteers are delivering the programme through Esteem clubs in schools and churches. As well as learning about topics such as self-esteem, relationships, sex, STIs, HIV, pregnancy, pornography and sexting, the young people are also given the opportunity to learn more about their value through the lens of the Bible.
An Esteem Club member, Jonathan*, told us about the impact the club has had on him:
“Since joining the Esteem Club, I have learnt so much. I have learnt to see myself as God sees me, and therefore to take better care of myself. I also learnt about relationships and sexual health, including how HIV can be transmitted. I believe that abstinence is best for prevention of HIV and building a healthy self esteem. The Esteem club has inspired me to educate my friends and society on better ways of living regarding relationships, sexual health and faith in God.”
*names have been changed to protect identity.