Based in Harare, the Rafiki Girls' Centre provide vocational training to some of Harare's most disadvantaged and vulnerable young women. In addition to academic training, they provide emotional, psychological and social support - empowering disadvantaged women and promote gender equality. Rafiki has supported over 700 young women since the turn of the century, 90% of whom are now in employment or have continued on into further education, this is a remarkable achievement.
Currently, girls comprise only 35% of the pupils in upper secondary education. This is largely down to a history of gender imbalance, in which cultural ideologies have resulted in the preference of boy children over girl children in education. Young women, often orphaned, struggle to afford their education and therefore face a bleak future in a country where unemployment is at 80%. Many of these girls are also HIV positive and face discrimination due to the stigma attached to their virus.
The girls take a range of introductory courses including cookery, computer skills, sewing, health and hygiene and time management - giving them life skills needed to be independent. They then take specialized training e.g. pre-school teaching, nurse aid, dress making, hotel and catering - with every effort taken to find them long term employment after their course. The girls are also educated about HIV and urged to get tested to know their status, so they can get help early.
Rafiki Girls Centre will give hope and a sustainable future to 62 of these vulnerable young women, who live in extreme poverty, by providing education and vocational training. 90% of Rafiki's graduates have continued into further education or found work as a result of their training, empowering the most vulnerable to rise out of poverty. The project is bridging the gender gap in education and promoting economic opportunity for young women, their families and local community.