Umsimisi Community Project

A fundraiser by Liberty Dube
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The out of school adolescent girls Livelihoods programme seeks to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS and climate change on the standards of living by providing a comprehensive range of services to the Nkwene community in a sustainable livelihoods approach. The project will provide a critical range of components earmarked to contribute in increasing household income and epidemic control through social-economic interventions that reduce the girl’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and ultimately enhance their livelihood options. The project will help 50 out of school adolescent girls to develop into determined, resilient, empowered, AIDS-free, mentored, and safe citizens. It will improve quality of life in the drought stricken region through responsive crop production technologies and integration of health services among out of school adolescent girl’s households in Shiselweni. The project seeks to support the economic and social empowerment of out of school adolescent girls through imparting skills around financial literacy to strengthen their economic assets, HIV prevention strategies, how to be assertive and communicate their needs and wants, becoming U-Reporters and networking with mentors. The project’s approach will combine innovative measures that will improve health by removing barriers to education among girls, supporting access to sexual and reproductive services, addressing gender-based violence, and improving the wellbeing of the out of school adolescent girls and their families. The Project will employ Theatre for Community Action techniques in addressing topical issues in the communities such as HIV/AIDS, domestic violence on vulnerable groups. We will also utilize Community dialogues to trigger people’s minds for interactive discussions so as to address all myths and misconceptions to give a sense of ownership to the response in addressing communal needs/ills.The solution Sexual Reproductive Health Rights Education Sexual reproductive health issues will be an intrinsic part of the Out of school adolescent girl’s livelihood project due to the high risk that they are exposed to in contracting HIV and unwanted pregnancies. The health services workshops/sessions aim to address the challenges faced by Out of school adolescent girls in accessing SRH Services and to offer psychosocial support to address the ongoing emotional, social, and spiritual concerns and needs of out of school adolescent girls including those living with HIV or disability as well as of their family, and their caretakers. The training will also help participants identify the barriers to accessing Sexual Reproductive Health services and information caused by stigma and discrimination; find ways to address and reduce stigma and discrimination in their communities and provide support to other young people experiencing stigma and discrimination. Sexual Abuse and Gender-Based Violence issues will also be a part of the workshops. Umsimisi Community Project will use the SRH trainings to encourage voluntary HIV testing. Using existing, evidence-based curricula and materials, Umsimisi Community Project will provide all girls participating in project with HIV prevention and comprehensive sexual adolescent reproductive health. In addition, the project will create linkages with clinical service providers offering PMTCT, HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT), family planning and GBV services. The project will also connect the participants with community-based Case Care Workers/Home Visitors where available, who can provide additional support/service referrals where needed. Access to a supportive platform that retains pregnant girls and teen mothers on an education pathway, combined with other services that build self-confidence and offer clinical linkages for HCT services, will ensure targeted group to make better decisions, decrease their risk to HIV infection and improve the health and education outcomes for both themselves and their babies. Life skills training The livelihood programme’s target population are the adolescent group and thus it is of paramount importance to empower the participants on vital life skills. Out of school adolescent girls often lack firm parental or family guidance and are at risk of social evils. The training will be based on characteristics, qualities and values that these young people need to help them negotiate a safer, healthier and happier path through life, to become responsible, fulfilled and mature adults who have achieved their greatest potential and are able to maintain healthy and stable relationships with others. The main topics to be discussed in these sessions are heavily researched and accepted areas of need for development and include; respect, self-esteem & self-confidence, problem solving, personal self-management, general social skills and decision making. The training will also include issues pertaining to substance abuse so as to enable young people to recognize and challenge common misconceptions on alcohol and other drug use. The training will enable the participants to overcome shyness, communicate effectively and avoid misunderstandings, initiate and carry out conversations, handle social requests, utilize both verbal and nonverbal assertiveness skills to make or refuse requests, and recognize that they have choices other than aggression or passivity when faced with tough situations. Early Childhood Stimulation The project will equip pregnant adolescents and teenage mothers with early childhood stimulation and parenting skills. Umsimisi Community Project will identify and train early childhood stimulation volunteers who will coach mothers using a combination of lecture and hands-on demonstration. Research on ECD programs demonstrate that the benefits of early intervention are far-reaching and lead to reduced instances of stunting, heart disease, and mental illness; increased school attendance; improved social and gender equality; and enhanced prospects for income generation throughout life Community Mentorship Female university students, young or retired professionals (i.e. teachers, nurses, and government employees) will be identified and trained as volunteer community mentors using Umsimisi Community Project’s highly successful mentor training curriculum developed for the young adolescents. Community mentors will meet regularly with girls to discuss topics related to transitioning to adulthood and will also help them to navigate the many challenges that could potentially prevent teenage mothers from regularly attending classes. Community mentors as role models will encourage and inspire girls to return to continue with their education, and share with them their own success stories in the midst of personal hardship, as well as provide them with guidance to help them to navigate difficult personal and cultural situations they face. Nutrition Garden management training The out of school adolescent girls livelihood programme’s overarching objective is to establish small agri-businesses so as to initiate incomes and ultimately enhance health, food security and nutrition status for the out of school adolescent girls in Nkwene. The community is susceptible to drought, has dry climatic characteristics and this has been exacerbated by the impacts of climate change. Thus training will therefore be hinged on the Conservation Agriculture techniques for backyard horticulture gardens. The Climate Smart backyard gardens will provide a source of nutritious food as well as income from the sale of vegetables. The Participants will be trained on: • Installation and use of Drip/trickle irrigation equipment • Producing and applying compost-based fertilizer (manure) to improve soil fertility; • Adopting soil improving management methods, such as crop rotation using different beds • Increasing the water-holding capacity of soils by enhancing soil organic matter (SOM); • Utilising crop cover to retain soil moisture and combat soil erosion and compaction, which leads to poor water infiltration, runoff water loss and soil erosion from wind and sheet erosion; and • Using mulching to improve seed germination • Growing and management of different types of nutritious vegetables Small livestock management training The participants will also be trained on animal husbandry mainly poultry farming techniques, mechanisms and long term benefits. The participants will be given 250 day old chicks and vegetable seeds to start up their agribusinesses. The poultry selected for livelihood farming for the programme are the broiler variety because of the fast growth and will have a high rate of returns over the programme period. The participants will also be provided tips on how the local chickens can be farmed commercially within the homesteads of the participants. The beneficiaries of the programme will also be linked to markets where they will be able to sell their outputs and this will ensure that the businesses flourish and become self-sustaining. Financial literacy and Entrepreneurship training To complement the animal and crop husbandry business, the participants will be trained on financial literacy and entrepreneurship to enable them to make effective and informed money management and business development and management decisions. The participants will be trained how to think innovatively, write simple business proposals, plan for their expenses, cut spending or spend wisely, save for future goals and thus develop lifelong money management skills. This will help them manage their agri-businesses in an effective manner. These skills will enable the girls to start-up and manage their own small enterprises and hence become financially independent and not turn to other vices that such as prostitution which may place them at risk of contracting HIV from older men who would want to take advantage of their situation to sleep with them.

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