Let's give girls training for a vibrant future

by American Foundation for Children with AIDS
Let's give girls training for a vibrant future
Let's give girls training for a vibrant future
Let's give girls training for a vibrant future
Let's give girls training for a vibrant future
Let's give girls training for a vibrant future
Let's give girls training for a vibrant future

Traveling back to Zimbabwe after a long stint away (thanks to Covid), was like taking a long drink of cool water on a summer day. And visiting the Sandra Jones Center where I had the chance to talk to children of all ages, from babies to older teens, was such a gift! This is one of AFCA’s greenhouse projects, where girls are taught how to farm inside and out of greenhouses, providing them with valuable skills for their futures. And today I get to spend time with some of the girls, teaching an art class for them.

“Do you like McDonalds? What about Starbucks?”, is how the conversation starts. I say I do not eat at either place and ask them how they know of these establishments. They tell me that they have heard of them and that they assume I like eating there, like most Americans. I tell them I prefer home cooked meals and they laugh. Next, they ask me if I can share my daughter’s phone number with them so they can all chat through WhatsApp. I tell them that Juju doesn’t own a cellphone and I think these girls are going to pass out. “WHAT? How can she not own a phone? Aren’t you American, Auntie Tanya?”

I use this time to talk about wants and needs and art is sort of put to the side while we discuss life. We are crowded around a table, paints and glitter forgotten, as we chat about their lives, school, my life, work, and music. These girls, all from broken backgrounds and sad, tragic pasts…all these girls, so beautiful, so full of life, so inquisitive! It is obvious to me that these girls now understand what it is to be loved and valued. They are eager to grow and to flourish and I know that this place they now call home has given them new life. With expectations they can meet, the feeling of unconditional love, staff with listening ears and ready hugs, with counselors who understand, and with a purpose for their lives, these girls are the future of their country. I know that when the time comes for them to leave this home, they will be well prepared to meet the challenges they will face as young adults because here they not only learn life skills and earn an education, but they also have learned of their worth.

Our class (not much art was done!) comes to an end, but the gaggle of girls follows me as I make my way to the main house. We sit, once again crowded, on sofas in a waiting area and share a bag of chips while we continue to chat. These girls remind me of my Juju – teenagers full of promise. I am honored to be part of a program which is preparing them for a future where they can provide for themselves, growing food, earning a living, and knowing what it is to have dignity and love. This is good. So very good.

Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and our partners in Africa, thank you for your continued support of this important project.  If you would like to learn even more about this project and others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

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“When you educate a man, you educate an individual. But when you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” African Proverb

The Sandra Jones Centre fully believes this to be true and one of their main focuses is on educating young women.  For those who have had no formal education we provide a Vocational Skills Training Centre to equip young woman to become productive members of the community.

Through training in crops, chickens, pigs and greenhouses an amazing number of our girls have gone on to gain employment to support themselves and in many cases their babies.

The majority of the girls who come into are care are orphans and many have been abused and abandoned.  Our aim is to give them hope and dignity,  helping them to believe that nothing is impossible if they are prepared to work hard.  We are so grateful to organizations like the American Foundation for Children with AIDS who have provided us with 5 greenhouses.  These greenhouses provide food for the children in our centre, money from the sale of vegetables to support the centre and training for the young ladies.  They are definitely a win/win situation for the centre and the students.  We are proud of our students.  They bring joy and laughter to the centre and their beautiful singing can be heard as they work in the gardens. 

Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and our partners in Africa, thank you for your continued support of this important project.  If you would like to learn even more about this project and others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

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Allison
Allison

In Zimbabwe the law states that children who have grown up in children’s homes must leave that home  when they are 18 years old.  The  children who fail their final exams at school are just abandoned with little education and no skills.   It is not hard to imagine what becomes of them after that,  and sadly many girls resort to prostitution as means of support.

We have made a way for them. We offer a place of refuge where they can learn life skills to help them to help themselves. The core focus is on agriculture where they learn about growing vegetables, rearing broiler chickens and egg layers, as well as rearing pigs and how to make their own wormery for fertiliser and to sell the worms for fishing.  We have been so blessed with the donation of greenhouses which adds so much more to their skill set. The girls have their own patch of land and grow, reap and sell their produce. They are taught every skill they will need from purchasing the seed to selling at markets and doing their own accounting. The profit they make during their time with us is what they use to start their own projects when they leave us. In some cases they are employed in the agriculture sector. The skills they have learned in the greenhouse really does give them the edge over others when applying for a job on a farm. 

We do not just leave them there either we follow up regularly on their progress and stay connected. As you can imagine strong bonds are formed and they really do become part of our family and are often seen popping in for a visit when they can to visit the staff and their "sisters" and catch us up on their lives.  Their time with us is filled with other life enhancing activities such as counselling and bible study. They also can join in the choir and music activities and have elective courses such as sewing, cooking and crafts.  It is such a unique program in this part of the world and we are so proud of our graduates!

Photos: Allison grew up in a children’s home and joined our training school in January 2020 after failing her exams in 2019.   She has proven to be one of our top students.

Amy and Tina are sisters and also grew up in a children’s home.  They now have hope for a bright future. 

Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and our partners in Africa, thank you for your continued support of this important project.  If you would like to learn even more about this project and others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

  

 

Amy and Tina
Amy and Tina
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Recent Graduate
Recent Graduate

This lovely bunch of girls below have just graduated from the Sandra Jones Centre Vocational Skills Training School.  Each one has had extensive training in greenhouse farming. Six girls have chosen to move on to our attachment program with 3 working on our farm and 3 joining Providence farm. The attachment program has proven to be a wonderful opportunity for our students to put their training into practice while having the protection of our staff to monitor their progress. Three girls from our last attachment program have done so well and achieved so much that we are now considering employing them full-time.

The next group of girls below have just joined us for our 2020 vocational skills program. For the next 12 months this group will receive training in running a broiler chicken project, a layer chicken project, a piggery, worm farming and greenhouse farming. This training program has been running for the past 8 years. Through the generous donations of greenhouses by AFCA we were able to add the greenhouse component in 2016 and it has proven to be the most popular module in our program. The girls are able to see huge returns for their hard work and it gives them great pleasure to be able to feed not just themselves but also the 70 children at the Sandra Jones Centre.

We continue to be so incredibly grateful to AFCA for making this project possible. Not only are our girls being trained and employed they are learning so many valuable lessons each day. Lessons which include: business skills, financial management, the importance of hard work and integrity, team work, goal setting, conflict resolution, and honesty.

Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and our partners in Africa. thank you for your continued support of this important project.  If you would like to learn even more about this project and others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

2020 Vocational Skills Program
2020 Vocational Skills Program
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What a challenge the past couple of months in Zimbabwe has been!

Electricity is non-existent most days and this means we can’t run our boreholes to water our crops.  On top of this we are in the middle of a heatwave with daily temperatures soaring over 100 degrees. But has this stopped our amazing training centre students from watering their greenhouses.? Not one bit!!! 

When the power comes on at night, usually around 10pm, our girls are out there making the most of the boreholes to keep the crops watered.  And if that’s not enough the girls are watering with buckets during the day.  We are so incredibly proud of their commitment and resilience.  And to top it off all this hard work is done with a song and a smile. 

Our greenhouses continue to provide much needed food and funds for the 70+ children in our care and we will continue to be ever grateful to AFCAID for their support and generosity. 

The team here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS thanks you for supporting this project and the work we do for the children in Africa.  As you start to make decisions regarding your end of year giving, please keep us in mind so we can continue our good work into 2020 and beyond.  We wish you a new year full of many blessings and as much hope as you have shared with us.  If you would like to learn even more about what we do or how you can meet some of the children you have helped, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

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American Foundation for Children with AIDS

Location: Harrisburg, PA - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @AFCAids
Project Leader:
tanya weaver
Harrisburg, PA United States
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