GCN was able to determine the most vulnerable and needy girls at risk of starvation in Chitungwiza and who were also noted to be the most susceptible and prone to abuse and the threat of death. Based on the needs assessment, GCN had initially developed a database of 100 very vulnerable girls, and the number increased to 120 following many more very vulnerable girls who continued making the same appeal for relief food aid before the commencement of the project.
With your support, GCN then went on to procure basic foodstuffs (Food Kit per beneficiary composed of mealie-meal 10kg, sugar 2kg, flour 2kg, salt 1kg, cooking oil 750ml, dried fish 1kg and beans 1kg), basic medicines and sanitary ware. However, GCN noted that it was now relatively cheaper to purchase the basic items locally instead of neighboring Botswana as initially stated in the project work-plan. This decision was also necessitated by the fact that food availability in Zimbabwe has significantly increased and that prices were now just slightly above Botswana prizes and buying locally would also cut on fuel and other logistical costs involved in purchasing items from outside the country.
In April 2009 and May 2009, GCN focused on helping the 120 very vulnerable girls at risk of starvation by providing them with basic foodstuffs, medicines and sanitary ware. Due to the different death-causing factors among parents in Chitungwiza, including the devastating effects of HIV and AIDS, many of the beneficiaries were mostly orphaned girls, with a few being survivors of abuse and severely underprivileged.
To celebrate ten years of their work Betty sent all of GCN’s funders and supporters a heart felt thank you.
IDEX is honored to know Betty Makoni and everyone at GCN and glad to have played a roll in your inspiring success. Thank you Betty and GCN for your work.
And to GlobalGiving donors we thank you for supporting GCN and IDEX partners around the world.
Email from Betty:
Empowered rural girl from Zimbabwe heads to Oxford University: GCN celebrates 10 years on 21 March 2009
From torn paper to laptop to email to technology to communication
From silent victims of harmful cultural practices to international advocates for girls rights
From speechless girls, to mouthful girls
From the smoky huts to five star hotels
From the dark potholed dusty roads of remote rural areas to lightful streets of Oxford, New York, Harare
From invisible past to visible present and future
From tearful songs to songs of empowerment
From verseless poetry to voiceful poetry
Girls are walking in the fullness of their potential
(By Betty Makoni, Unpublished poet and Founder of Girl Child Network)
On Saturday 21 March 2009, Girl Child Network (www.gcn.org.zw) turns ten years. There is a girl who emailed me as below and I felt she summed it up well so well. Please note I removed her name from the original email but the rest of the email is in its original form and content.
I was at Tsindi Secondary School in Rusape, Manicaland in 2006. I just want to say a big thank you to you and the Girl Child Network Trust Zimbabwe. You helped me a lot not financially but with the sweet and advising words you said when you came to our School. Now I have grown knowing my rights, knowing I have to speak up and always view the sky as the limit.
Me being brought up in our small village and we did not have enough opportunities to do what other girls where doing, I used to look at myself like I am nothing and whenever we had sports and gatherings, I used to feel like I do not exist. Thanks to you I finally saw the potential, which was inside myself, right now as I write to you I am studying Nursing and Paramedic and I will be going to university in September, which is amazing. I will be going to Oxford University by the way and I give all the thanks to you because you made me realize I can do anything. I hope the GCNT is still going on no matter what happened or what happens back home.
Thank you very much and god bless!!!
I hope Mai Mvududu is still cheerful as she used to be.
Love you and take care.”
Personally I never imagined a situation where a rural girl would one day email from Oxford to say, “I finally made it.” I was used to seeing girls with dirty, torn uniforms, shoeless and rough feet and rough hands. My picture of girls in tears, overworked, married off, domesticated and raped made me worry a lot. Each time I looked at them I saw great potential erased by abject poverty. Now when I open my email box ten years down the line, I get messages that make me feel the world must relook empowerment programs for girls and replicate wherever, whenever, however they can use the Girl Child Empowerment Model by Girl Child Network.
I told girls in Canada many times that each time I fly to their country it is the voice of a male pilot that I hear and then I see many air hostesses serving food. Not that it is a bad thing to be an airhostess but we need the number of those pilots and air hostesses balanced in terms of gender .So we must not tire in our efforts in supporting girls so that we close on the gender inequality gap created by patriarchy in the world and according to me it does not matter whether one is in the north or south. It looks gender inequality and women empowerment needs to be addressed at a much earlier stage. Girls will be women but women will never be girls again and so we start now!!!!!!!!!!!!!
From 1999 we have supported thousands of girls in Zimbabwe to transform from perceived victims to leaders and many now walk in the fullness of their potential. Girl Child Network turns 10 on 21 March 2009.We have every reason to celebrate our achievements and please join us!
Tomorrow in Chitungwiza a high-density suburb of over one million people, girls will celebrate their 10th anniversary and Stembile Mabhena, former National Girls Executive Secretary General and current representative of girls on the board will give a key-note address and spell out the next vision for Girl Child Network from 2009 to 2019. Girls will march from our offices in Zengeza 4 to Makoni Shopping centre.
Throughout the year many events will take part formally and informally where Girl Child Network will share the Girl Child Network Model within and outside Zimbabwe.
The whole world has supported GCN morally and financially.
But mostly our story was made possible by all of you.
Thank you all on behalf of girls in Zimbabwe and tomorrow is a big day for us all.
IDEX is proud and delighted to be part of your work and wishes everyone at GCN a very Happy Birthday.
I want to wish you all a big thank you both from IDEX and GCN for responding to our emergency request for GCN. The need is growing ever greater with recent news from Zimbabwe increasingly heartbreaking.
Girls are still seeking out GCN both for basic supplies but also for education. GCN reports that while the education system of Zimbabwe is in near collapse, school children are still keen to remain in school as evidenced by their continuing to attend despite the scarcity of teachers whose salaries no longer even cover the cost of the bus fare to work.
GCN confirms that the biggest priority right now is in providing girls with access to basic food and medical supplies. This is not to imply that the girls no longer need educational support, but their primary needs have reached a critical juncture and urgently need to be addressed. Whenever possible GCN is providing them with the opportunity to continue their education. But they urgently need more funds.
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IDEX Africa Program Director