The World Bank estimates half of Zimbabwe fell into extreme poverty during the pandemic due to the economic impact of lockdowns. This has caused more vulnerable girls to turn to sex work in desperation.
Similarly, the number of teen mums has increased dramatically: the Zimbabwean government reports that nearly 5,000 teenage girls became pregnant in January and February 2021 alone. These girls face complex challenges including having to drop out of school, not being able to find work, and lack of a support system - as their families often reject them. This puts them at high risk of falling into sex work.
With your help, the Shining Star’s Teen Mum Project is teaching 20 young mothers about sexual health, resulting in better health outcomes and less risk of HIV and STI transmission. Crucially, they will also be equipped with credible career options through having access to vocational training skills such as baking and beauty therapy and pathways back into education that will prevent them from falling into sex work. They will also be given the confidence and skills to parent well through positive parenting training.
18-year-old Maita* does not currently have a permanent home, but moves from place to place, staying with friends when she can. She dropped out of school before her ‘O’ levels as she fell pregnant. Sadly, both her family and boyfriend rejected her after she became pregnant. She tells her story:
"I was confused and hopeless: so many times I tried to end my life. It has not been easy to raise a child at my age. I try by all means to make sure my child has food to eat and a place to sleep.
I was invited by a friend to Shining Star. The love and the teachings I get have helped me to see that I can be a better person and that I have a responsibility to take good care of myself and others.
I have learnt that prevention is better than cure: we must use condoms for safer sex. I have learnt how to share information about sexual and reproductive health with younger girls who might be sexually active.
I have learnt to set goals in life, this helps me to have direction and be able to see what I have achieved. I can now stand with confidence and speak to an audience.
I have learnt to use my hands as a source of income: I can now use my hands to raise money rather than before when sex was my source of raising funds. I believe that my dreams can come true: I would like to raise some money for me to go back to school.
I now believe in myself, that I am special.
Without Shining Star I could be dead: I was hopeless and I wished to die."
*name changed to protect identity