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Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s

by Makomborero
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Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
Mentor the Vulnerable Girl Child to Impact 1000s
A session in the winter sun
A session in the winter sun

The second school term in Zimbabwe starts just at the end of the autumn season and takes us through the winter months and what a winter it was! Some mornings we genuinely did not expect to have any mentees turn up at all but we are so proud to report that attendance was hardly an issue and we managed to hold all planned sessions during this term.

Though Covid-19 restrictions are still present, they are nowhere near as strict and we felt that this gave a sense of freedom to the mentees. Education wise, it was especially helpful as most of them were writing their mid-year exams and were able to attend classes and revise without disruptions. We also found our Girl Mentorship sessions to be more relaxed as mentors could focus more on the sessions without worrying about strict protocols. A few times mentees opted to sit outside in the winter sun for their sessions. Apart from warming their bodies this warmed our hearts to find that our once very timid girls are now confident to have input into how their sessions run. Sitting in the morning winter sun ‘mushana’ is something that brings communities together all over the country. Our girls chatted and encouraged each other regarding exams and some of the hard and very real topics we were navigating. It is so humbling to be able to create these small communities of once marginalized girls who can now come together and be each other’s’ strength without the need for mentors to be present.

Self- development features a lot in the topics we discuss during our sessions. The focus towards the end of the second term slightly shifted and most topics looked at the role mentees could play within their families, schools and communities. This was more well-received than we had anticipated! The icing on the cake was our mentees going round their schools during one of the sessions picking up litter. For most of them it started off as an ‘uncool’ and embarrassing exercise but by the end we had smiles and laughs and a sense of togetherness!

Our final session was...you guessed it, the end of term lunch! All three schools came together and enjoyed a packed programme and a lovingly prepared meal. Our mentors, led by our super-duper intern Nicolle, helped to plan and run the day efficiently. We had a volunteer dental nurse, Brenda, who spoke to the mentors and mentees about oral hygiene, something that often gets neglected in communities that struggle financially. Our COO, Mrs Laura Albertyn brought a challenging message through story time. She read a story about a heroin, Queen Zenobia who went through hard things just like most our mentees but was brave and dedicated throughout. Most of our girls would have been read to for the first time ever this year and from their attentive silence one could tell they loved the story and the message behind it! After an appropriate winter lunch of rice and beef casserole, the girls had hot chocolate with marshmallows, most of them for the first time ever! When all was done, the girls were sent away with a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste each to help put into practice what they had learnt. They loved comparing the colours and shapes of their toothbrushes and talking about how they couldn’t wait to make use of them. If nothing else gets you at these lunches, the smiles and sense of marvel at new experiences from the girls will! Thank you to one of our board of trustees for the donation of toothbrushes, toothpaste and hot chocolate and marshmallows.

The time we spend with each set of mentees is short, just one year per group. However, in such a short time, great impact is made. That is hugely down to our team of excellent mentors and to our donors. Thank you to our mentors who give knowledge, time, energy, friendship and most importantly much needed love to our mentees. Your dedication is just incredible! Thank you to our donors. You play a pivotal role in the lives of our mentees. Without your gifts and donations we would not be able to teach our girls valuable lessons such as giving back to those around them. Thank you all involved this term for being part of the chain reaction that is given to give.

Picking up litter at school - given to give
Picking up litter at school - given to give
Mentees with their new toothbrushes and toothpaste
Mentees with their new toothbrushes and toothpaste
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Welcome sign to the end of term lunch
Welcome sign to the end of term lunch

What a wonderful start to 2022 we have had at the Girl Mentorship Programme! We have thirty new mentees and we have been privileged to hold a few sessions with them during the first term.

First term started a little later than normal for all schools. Amongst other reasons, as a country we were still taking precautions around Covid-19. We are so grateful to the heads of the schools that we work with for going above and beyond to see our selection process through. Our programme is designed for 14-15 year olds who are on the margins of their society. They are girls heavily affected by poverty or come from child-headed or broken family units. The staff at our host schools play a vital role in identifying the girls who are most in need of the programme and we are very grateful to them for that.

 We are so pleased that for the few sessions we have run at the three host schools, we have had a hundred percent attendance. Our end of term lunch went down amazingly well, we are not sure how we will top it the next two terms! Coming from different schools, most of the mentees were meeting for the first time and with similar backgrounds they quickly forge a wonderful sense of belonging. Socially, they get something from each other that we could never teach them from a front led session and it’s very heartwarming to watch. We had dance competitions for the first time and had good belly laughs nestled in with the talent! At the end of the lunch, the mentees were asked to paint something that makes them happy. One mentee painted her grandmother’s homestead, a small mud hut with a tree to the left and a bright red sun in the sky. She said it is the most peaceful place she knows.

 As our first term was quite a short one, we have taken the opportunity to prepare for the rest of the year. Our gap year student Nicolle has done a fantastic job of re-vamping and re-organising our boxes which hold all the contents needed for each term. Snacks are slightly different for term 2 and we have brand new first aid kits! Some of our mentors had the opportunity to attend a basic First Aid course, a refresher for some and first time for some. Those of you who have followed us for a while may have tweaked by now that every time we meet is an opportunity to build each other and have fun. The First Aid Course was no different! It was a lovely day for mentors to get together and catch up during the holidays.

 Our last team building exercise for mentors was a Whatsapp Quiz. It was four categories and more than a thousand messages worth of fun! The winning team won some donated planners and the runners up some donated chocolate.

 We are so grateful to our donors who help us create such precious, meaningful, encouraging, educational moments for our mentees. We are grateful to our mentors who term in and term out give of their time and energy. We are looking forward to the rest of 2022 with our new mentees!

What makes you happy? Here's what the mentees drew
What makes you happy? Here's what the mentees drew
Mentors enjoying First Aid training
Mentors enjoying First Aid training
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Jumping for joy that the sessions were re-starting
Jumping for joy that the sessions were re-starting

Coming to the end of the year meant a very sad goodbye to our 2021 mentees with whom we had shared an unpredictable yet lovely year.

Since you heard from us last, we were able to start face to face sessions again in September 2021. Our mentors were raring to go after the break necessitated by Covid-19 restrictions. As always, they led sessions with great passion and it was easy for them to pick up where they left off with the mentees. This was a great testament to how mentees and mentors grow to love and value each other in such a short space of time.

We did not delay to get back to sessions when the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted. All the schools our girls attend had to come up with plans to social distance as classes are usually full to beyond capacity. Some schools separated students into morning classes and afternoon classes. Others had students attend two or three days a week in turns. As such, it was not easy to get word around that we were back to sessions. We had around fifty percent attendance on the first session back, which increased as the weeks went by. We celebrated a hundred percent attendance some weeks! It is humbling to walk away from a session with the knowledge that every vulnerable girl that was selected to be assisted by this programme has been reached, even for just a day.

Mentoring of mentors continued online throughout the term. Staff shared words of encouragement and hope to mentors throughout the term and this had a trickledown effect for which we are so grateful. Staff also popped in on sessions, we find that this has a great effect on both mentors and mentees.

We ended the year with our termly lunch. We were so pleased to see all the girls there. Staff made a lovely hot meal with lots of salads and there was ice-cream for dessert. For most girls just having a well –balanced hot meal would have been a rare treat. We felt so grateful to be able to sit together in a big circle and share a meal. We never take being able to meet for granted anymore. Skyla and Rocket, our two dogs were also happy to be mixing with everyone!

Our end of year lunch is more than the food. It’s a time to appreciate each other, to reflect on the year as well as get feedback from the mentees. We value this feedback beyond what we can express. It helps us to shape the programme and tailor it to the mentees. With that said, I will end with some of the feedback that was shared at the end of last year. We are so grateful for all that our 2021 mentees achieved! We wish them all well for the future.

‘I have become more grateful for what I am’ – Mentee, Mufakose 3

‘I discovered I have a talent which can help my family’ – Mentee, Mufakose 2

‘Gradually, I am becoming a positive minded person, considerate and I am believing in myself more’ – Mentee, Mabvuku

Roleplaying as an ice-breaker
Roleplaying as an ice-breaker
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Last time we updated you on Girl Child, we were just about to have our end of term lunch. What a day it was! We had a hundred percent attendance! Lunch was rice, chicken in sauce and coleslaw, a much loved meal combination in Zimbabwe. The girls enjoyed an art session, some teaching from our COO, Mrs Albertyn and we were very privileged to have been able to distribute sustainable sanitary wear to all the mentors and mentees. Each girl was given three re-usable sanitary pants and a menstrual cup. Menstruation is a bit of a taboo subject to a lot of people in Zimbabwe so we had some wonderful training for the mentees prior to giving them these items.

 About our lunches, Mrs Albertyn had this to say: “The Girl Mentorship Lunches are an opportunity for all the groups of girls from different schools to come together and celebrate what they are learning.  Time to mix with different girls, facing similar challenges on a similar journey.  It is also a wonderful opportunity for the mentors to lead together and mix with each other.I love the teaching sessions that we dedicate to this time - it is always a broad topic that roughly touches on what they have been learning through the term but from a slightly different perspective.  We also have time for them to be creative, share a beautiful meal together and have a skill taught.  It is a coming together, a celebration of young ladies!  It is an opportunity for us to continue to shout out their worth and say - this is all for you - you are highly valued!An area that always touches my heart is how the girls always want to take something from the meal home to share with their family - wanting their families to have a small taste of the wonderful time they have had together!  As the year goes on the lunches become more relaxed and interactive!  They are beautiful confirmations of what we are building in these girls, slowly each week.  We get to see these flowers come slowly into bloom.”

Shortly after the day of the lunch, Zimbabwe went into a level of lockdown that once again restricted gatherings and unnecessary movement. Sadly, we have not had a physical meeting since then and online meetings with mentees are not possible as most mentees neither have smart phones nor the funds to access wifi. We did however manage to keep in touch with our mentors throughout this period. The longer serving mentors took turns to record audio sessions on different topics that would help the team when they were finally able to resume face to face meetings. It was a great way for the mentors to impart the knowledge they had gained over the years and to pass on some helpful nuggets. It was nice for the mentors who joined in the past year to get training from someone other than a staff member.

Those who have been following our reports will know that the last twelve to eighteen months have involved a lot of preparation for the few windows that we have been able to have face to face sessions. We are well stocked up with books, t-shirts for art sessions and craft work items. As such, we thought this time we would focus more on what our lovely mentors have been up to since our last meeting.

‘I haven’t done much because of the lockdown. I've been going to work for the most part.

I did a lot of reading novels in my spare time. I learnt how to plait my hair and other people's as well.

And I spent an awful lot of time at home! – Tadiwa

 'I spent most of my time at work the whole of lock down and reading a lot of books online (sadly couldn't find hard copies). I left for school a week ago to Ghana.’ – Martha

 'I've been helping with gardening at home. I have also been helping mom at the market and preparing for exams.’ - Judith

‘Since the last time, I have been tied up with work and prep for exams. It’s been a rough time for me. Hope to see everyone soon.’ – Aquiline

'I've been teaching extra lessons to A'level students mostly and a bit of reading online novels and also preparing for exams which I started writing yesterday’ – Perseverance

 ‘I have been at home studying and helping my brother in his studies as well.’ - Tina

‘Shamah and I have been busy getting prepared for exams and performing our daily duties as usual.’ – The twins, Shalom and Shamah

'I have been helping my cousin in her shop at Eastgate market mall . I have also been doing a little business selling braids .’ – Teclah

'I left for school in America towards end of August. I have been exploring the new place and various cultures as well as juggling classes.' - Shalom

What an amazing bunch our mentors are! They are always so excited about when we can meet again. They have been great at keeping in touch with each other despite not being able to meet. Some have managed to chat with their mentees, it has been lovely to receive the feedback. 

I will leave you on this very happy note… We start face to face meetings in THREE DAYS!! We will soon be back to chats and crafts, snacks and laughs. We cannot wait to update you on how the year ends. Thank you for your much needed and continued support. 

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Mood meter
Mood meter

The mood meter at Makomborero Zimbabwe went up a hundred notches on Saturday 10th April 2021 when we were finally able to hold our first Girl Child session after nearly 14 months of not being able to meet!! In case you are wondering what the mood meter is, it is something that was introduced to us by our co-founder Laura Albertyn, fondly known as Mrs A. We use it often at Makomborero Zimbabwe to gauge how people are feeling before and after a meeting or a session. In the case of Girl Child, the mentees draw a face on the white board before the meeting and another after the meeting. It’s often good fun and a great way of hearing from those who wouldn’t otherwise be vocal about their feelings.

 

Preparation 

The last few reports have felt like we mostly spoke about how much preparation was going into the time when sessions could finally resume. Part of this preparation was recruiting new mentors from our past Makomborero Zimbabwe students. We were so pleased with how many past students were keen on mentoring and the excitement and dedication that they have brought into the programme.

 

Mentoring mentors

There were some fun times to be had while we trained our mentors. Training was done online as lockdown restrictions meant gatherings were not permitted. This worked well as most mentors were able to play the recorded messages in their own time and discussions were held as a group on Whatsapp. We had a Mentor’s Quiz Night that saw existing mentors, new mentors and Makomborero staff exchange over 700 messages as we all tried to get to know each other better and equip each other for the year ahead. It was a great laugh! The prize was a bar of chocolate and it went to our trainee mentor Tadiwa.

 

Recruiting mentees   

There was much excitement amongst Makomborero staff, mentors and staff at partner schools when it was becoming clear that sessions were going to begin in March/April 2021. We had to move the start date a few times as the reality of what it would take to orchestrate everything unfolded. Our partner schools are all based in the high density areas, they have huge classes of sometimes over 60 students to one teacher. It was impossible for them to social distance and as such the students were split into two sets and  took turns to go to school for two/three days a week; or half a day each set. This had a direct impact on the recruitment process of Girl Child mentees as some of the potential mentees were in different sets to the recruiting staff. We waited this process out and it paid off! We had twenty excited girls start the mentorship programme on the 10th of April and another ten start on the 17th of April.

 

And so it began….finally! 

Our introductory session is about getting to know the girls, telling them what Makomborero is all about and making sure they understand the policies and procedures we have in place to protect them. On paper, it looks very much like a tick-box exercise but in reality, this session is worth gold! For a lot of the girls, having been forced to grow up before their time through such experiences as taking on lead roles in their families, it is the first time they get a good understanding of their rights not only as a female but as a child. Mentors do a great job of melting the ice as well as answering some tricky questions in this first session. We are 4-5 sessions in at the time of writing this report and attendance has been great, with a hundred percent at one school last week, which is rare. There was lots of excitement around the library books, which was lovely to see. Those who never thought they would get the hang of crotcheting are becoming pros. Girls who started off shy and not keen on contributing are coming out of themselves especially with the reassurance from their mentors. Snack time while someone reads an inspiring story is a huge hit as always. Stories about girls or women who achieved great things give the girls an instant dose of inspiration and eating together at gatherings is a much loved part of the culture. There is a proverb in one of the local languages, Shona, which says ‘Relationships are somewhat empty, it is food which completes them’ and it rings true at our sessions.

This year’s group is loving their group photos and silly poses, we are too! What a lovely celebration of finally coming together.

 

What’s next?

Remember that end of term lunch that we had planned for but couldn’t have in March 2020? Well, we have another planned for two weeks’ time. Our thirty girls will be served a delicious lunch prepared by staff and mentors. We won an amazing grant that will allow us to give each girl sustainable sanitary wear. There will also be a fun and educational session on menstruation as well as a relaxing art therapy session making use of the white t-shirts we so eagerly purchased last year. This group of girls will be with us for the year and we look forward to discussing more topics, having healthy debates, learning new skills and eating and chatting together with them.

Putting all this in writing has made us see how much has been achieved in such a short space of time (though we did have over a year to prepare). Thank you to all our kind donors who helped us stock up the materials that are now coming into use. Well done to the mentors who have done a great job at adapting to the new protocols necessitated by Covid-19. Verbally communicating through masks is a bit of a challenge especially during that first session, the mentors handled it beautifully! Well done to our trainee mentors for their enthusiasm and for being such quick learners. It would have been so easy to come under the dark cloud of Covid-19 and stop planning or hoping but there was a certain Mrs A whose positivity and forward planning kept everyone upbeat and focused. Thank you Mrs A!

Mood meter – at the start of this report, I had a smile on my face and now it’s turned into a big cheesy grin. Hope it’s infectious!

Too excited to take a normal group photo!
Too excited to take a normal group photo!
Session in progress
Session in progress

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Organization Information

Makomborero

Location: Sidcup, Kent - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @MakomboreroUK
Project Leader:
Rumbie Mzenda
Sidcup, Kent United Kingdom
$9,296 raised of $10,000 goal
 
105 donations
$704 to go
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