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
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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It is hard to believe that 2020 is coming to an end and we have not been able to hold any Girl Child sessions since February. Our sessions thrive on face to face interaction and not being able to see each other has been a great disadvantage. There is some sadness as we reflect on 2020. However, the joy of Christmas is truly with us and we are grateful our girls are gearing up to enjoy the festivities as much as they are able to.

The lives touched by Girl Child so far and the passion the Makomborero team has for disadvantaged girls has fanned the flames of hope and given us all strength to keep looking ahead. We are grateful for the generous donations we have received this year, they have been a much needed practical element to our hopes. We were able to buy more than 40 books which will be added to the existing libraries of the three schools on the Girl Child programme. The rest of the books will make up starter packs for the two schools we hope to add to our programme by the end of 2022. We are pleased that we have not just added numbers to the library but we have been able to add some variety too! Most, if not all our girls will finally get to read classics such as Roald Dahl for the first time.

We have also been able to buy the much needed materials for the 'Baby blanket crochet project' which the girls engage in throughout the year. The office was filled with ooohs and aahs about the fun wool colours we were able to get and we are excited for our girls to start crocheting. We look forward to passing the skill of crocheting to a new set of girls, the happiness of making something from scratch together and to teaching them the value of giving to others.

Normally, we would bring all our girls from the different schools together at the end of each term. We would have a big lunch, play games and do an art session that involves t-shirt painting. We were not able to do this this year but the donations meant that we were able to gather all the art session materials needed for 2021. We were also able to buy all the t-shirts we will require for the painting activity. That is huge and we are immensely grateful!

Perhaps most heart-warming of all was that we were able to make a small parcel for each girl to enjoy with her family over the Christmas period. Each girl will receive a pack with dried sugar beans, dried soya meat, rice, pasta and some biscuits and sweets. We know the biscuits and sweets will be a real treat and the other food stuffs a welcome change from mealie-meal and a real life saver for our girls’ families. We feel this makes up in part for not being able to have a joint end of year lunch.

Earlier this year, we were busy writing session content, refreshing what we have and adding what we felt the girls needed. January will be a time of re-visiting those session plans and sorting out timetables.

We have been in communication with our 2020 girls through their mentors who live locally to them. We are always so pleased to hear of their well-being when they bump into each other at the local shops or while taking walks. They miss the sessions, are looking forward to Christmas and perhaps like us are just getting ready as much as possible for 2021.

Sadly, we will not be holding sessions with this particular set of girls in 2021 as we will be recruiting again at the beginning of January. Filled with hope and joy, we have prepared as much as we can for the next 18 months and look forward to welcoming the new girls.

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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
$8,814 raised of $10,000 goal
 
99 donations
$1,186 to go
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