It was an idea whose time had naturally arrived. In its 5th anniversary year, Rozaria Memorial Trust has again taken a bold step to firm up the foundation of its support to young women and girls in Murewa. Since the founding of the Trust in 2006, girls and young women, especially those living with and affected by HIV has been at the heart of the RMT activities. This programmes including support with education subsidies, assistance with access to treatment, psycho-social support and livelihoods projects for the families. “Yet, in all these programmes have been anchored in a social assistance approach, and not sufficiently within a rights framework in which the girls could shape the focus of our work through their own voice and leadership”, stressed Coletta Zinyama, RMT Programme Officer leading this programme.
In its work with adolescent children in schools it just became clear that each girl needs a strong support network of peers and friends. The data was equally showing that for us to have stronger HIV prevention programmes it is crucial to reach out adolescent girls with an approach that enables them to explore, discuss and find solutions to issues relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Top among the key issues, the girls wanted information on sexuality education; life skills for negotiating for being a leader in their own lives; support and mentorship so that they are able to have someone to lean on when they are making decisions or simple negotiations in life.
RMT is partnering with Ministry of Education in Murewa, with a pilot launch of Rozaria Girls Clubs in five secondary schools namely Magaya, Kambarami, Chemapango, Hurungwe and Chipinda. The programme will include initially 25 girls from each schools aged between 12 and 18 years of age, thus reaching out to girls in secondary schools. Therefore a total of 100 girls are the key outreach target for this first year of the programme. RMT plans to also establish such clubs in primary schools to reach the age-groups 8-12 years of age.
In the meanwhile discussions are undergoing with some of the faith groups for establishment of Rozaria Girls Clubs that could target the out of school girls and adolescent mothers. In its own small ways, the Trust will be contributing to girls education, reduction of HIV; teenage pregnancies; maternal mortalities among adolescent girls as well reduction in early, forced and child marriages. In a consultative meeting held last month with the female head teachers who will be facilitating the clubs, they stressed that the programme should carry the four components of SRHR age appropriate information; leadership and skills development; mentorship as well as exposure and exchange visits. Each school will have the Rozaria Girls Club meetings at least once or twice a week; with quarterly meetings representatives of the five schools, and an annual girls retreat and Mbuya Rozaria’s homestead for all the girls participating in the clubs.
Mbuya Rozaria Marumisa Dizha was a grandmother, who gave quality time for sharing with her children and grandchildren. This was a safe space for conversation, advise and for knowledge transfer. She was an aunt to many and a social counsellor. Many would reach out to her when they prepared for marriage, when they had plans for weddings or had problems in their own homes. She was a chipangamazano, a trusted advisor to many. As a practising and committed Christian Mbuya Rozaria always respected the values of dignity, caring and sharing.