The Power of Perseverance Tanyaradzwa’s journey to getting an education has been shaped by many life-changing lessons.
Text: Patricia Mabviko Photos: Joshua Kumunda Video: Kingston Musanhu
A fter completing primary school, homestead near the rural gold-mining town of Kwekwe, in Zimbabwe’s Midlands Province. It was a fresh start for both of them since Tanyaradzwa’s parents had divorced. In Kwekwe, her grandparents were excited too. They enrolled her at Sidakeni High School, the nearest school, seven kilometres away. Her grandfather, who worked for a small mining operation, paid her school fees. Tanyaradzwa was excited to continue her studies. She and her mother had just moved to her grandparents’ The 14-kilometre round-trip walk was challenging; between that, her studies and her chores, she was exhausted. “When girls wake up in the morning, we have to sweep the yard, make a fire, fetch water and prepare food,” Tanyaradzwa says. “All these things have to be done before we leave for school so that there is order at home.” Because of the distance she had to walk, she started arriving late for school and couldn’t always concentrate. On
top of that, she was discouraged when villagers she met on the way would mock her, saying, “Your education will amount to nothing in your village.” Then there were the gold panners who regularly waited for girls along the road to proposition them. “What saved me was the encouragement I received from my grandmother and the guidance from teachers,” she says. “They told us that it’s possible to abstain from sex and that if you want to get involved with someone, you have to get tested for HIV first. If I hadn’t been empowered with information on sex, I don’t think I would be where I am today. I probably would have given in to peer pressure. Those lessons helped me make the right decisions about my life.” Things were going well until her grandfather lost his job and she was no longer able to pay the school fees. When Tanyaradzwa’s school became aware of her situation, they connected her with Plan International’s Adolescent Girls and Young Women project, which arranged to pay her tuition and for her to move into the
boarding facility near the school. Tanyaradzwa was now able to focus on her schoolwork. Today, she attends the University of Zimbabwe and is studying to be an accountant. “My dream is to build a better house for my grandmother,” she says. “I know that the day I do this, my grandfather, who has now passed, will be smiling down on me from heaven.”
In 2022, we started working with local journalists alongside our Plan International colleagues in the countries in which we operate. Tanyaradzwa’s story, the photo essay about dads and daughters (page 19) and the feature on mosquito nets (on page 20) were created by videographer Kingston Musanhu, photographer Joshua Kumunda and writer Patricia Mabviko. “We understand cultural, social and political dimensions,” says Musanhu. “A local perspective provides a powerful voice.” A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE
33 | 2022 Annual Report | DIGEST
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