The advent of COVID19 and resulting lockdowns has unfortunately seen an increase of pregnant teenagers in Zimbabwe. At one secondary school in Matobo District where the project is being implemented; when schools re-opened after lockdown the headmaster reported that at least 40 girls were pregnant. This highlights the sexual abuse that is ongoing and which sems to have escalated during lockdowns. Most parents and caregivers lost their jobs and source of livelihood during COVID19. There has also been an increase of illegal gold miners in Matobo who are being accused of impregnating the girls. Unfortunately, the illegal gold miners do not stay in one place for long, they are not being arrested as they leave as soon as they have committed a crime. The parents and caregivers on the other hand are being blamed for sending the young girls to the illegal gold mines to sale different wares in order to get an income. The innocent girls then fall prey to the miners who lure them with money and they are sexually abused. Once pregnant they fail to locate the offenders. The girls being from poor families cannot afford to buy any baby preparation stuff or sanitary wear to use soon after delivering the baby.
Through the pad drive, the HOCIC team managed to procure and get menstrual hygiene items which included 60 dignity kits (disposable pads and cotton wool, soap and towels), then proceeded to distribute these to the pregnant teenage girls in Matobo. Besides the dignity kits, the girls got Baby Preparation material such as baby blankets, baby dishes, buckets, thermometers and baby clothes. After the distributions a dialogue followed on encouraging the girls to go back to school, they were urged not to be school drop-out as having an education and a career would help them secure a brighter future despite what would have happened to them now. The girls noted the challenges they are facing as pregnant teens, some had already given birth and they stated challenges of having sources of income to support their young babies. They then suggested that skills training in various livelihoods like Dressmaking, Hairdressing, Art and Craft and Detergents would be welcome as it would also help them have some income generating projects. The distributions followed strict COVID 19 regulations.
In the coming quarter, the team envisages to continue with the pad drive campaign and is appealing to the GlobalGiving Donors to continue supporting the initiative as they are making a difference. Moreover, the team plans to do more sustainable initiatives such as procuring reusable sanitary pads, training the young girls to make reusable pads and training the girls on different livelihood skills and to start up small businesses so they become
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