CGCDZ Secretariat handing over some of the donated items to the child at the school. Wearing a white hat is the aunt who stays with the child, the school head in neck tie and senior staff.
In line with Centre for Gender and Community Development in Zimbabwe’s (CGCDZ) drive towards providing safe homes/shelter and protection for abused persons especially women and girls the organization adopted a twelve year old girl who fell victim of ill-treatment from her aunt.
The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda embodies the highest aspirations for a bright future for the world’s children, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a crucial opportunity to realize their rights. Children are the main future beneficiaries of this Agenda, and fulfilling their rights by reaching those who are the furthest behind is a prerequisite for achieving the SDGs overall.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development bears testimony on the dignity of children and their right to live free from violence and from fear is recognized as a distinct priority on the international development agenda. Achieving the goals, especially those related to education and health; gender equality and violence against women; child labour; poverty eradication; access to justice and accountable and inclusive institutions will help reduce the risk of violence in children’s lives and provide effective responses for child victims.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), like the Millennium Development Goals before them, will play a significant role in the coming years in determining the global approach to international development. Though the goals focus on sustainable development, they are inextricably linked to human rights generally, and the rights of children specifically. Children are affected by all of the SDGs, whether poverty (Goal 1), hunger (Goal 2), health (Goal 3), education (Goal 4), gender equality (Goal 5), climate change (Goal 13) or violence against children (Goal 16.2). In this vein, CGCDZ guided by international conventions/statutes and the national constitution saw it prudent to intervene by extending a helping hand to the abused girl child so that she realizes her potential and aspirations in life.
The School head Mr Kudzai Bakuri handing over some of the donated items to the child. Looking on is Mr. Chida Mudadi the Operations manager for CGCDZ
For purposes of identification the girl child shall be called by the name Tinei (not the actual name). Tinei had her right to education generally and rights of children specifically grossly violated by the aunt. She was exposed to overloaded household chores, had no birth certificate, beatings for petty offences, non-payment of school fees and denied access to other facilities/services enjoyed by other siblings who stayed with her. She showed off a swollen hand sustained after being beaten by the aunt over a petty offence. The government of Zimbabwe has scrapped corporal punishment but some institutions like the home as the case of Tinei still practice/administer it. Such offences go unreported because of lack of information and education.
Tinei showing off the swollen hand sustained from beatings by the aunt after the presentation of school uniform and stationary by CGCDZ.
As a gesture to support the child, CGCDZ availed stationary (four by ten packs exercise books, twenty ball point pens, mathematics set, one pack of rulers, ten pencils, four boxes crayons and rubber), school uniforms- (two pairs shoes, five pairs white stockings, three packs underwear, two pairs uniforms, satchel, one pair tennis shoes, one pair track suit and two jerseys) and paid up all arrears and fees up to grade seven. The donation totaled one thousand eight hundred ($1800) Zimbabwe dollars. The organization pledged to support the child’s education up to tertiary education. However, since the proposed safe home hasn’t been constructed, the child will remain in the custody of the aunt with the hope that the counselling conducted to the aunt bear fruits.
Section 81 of the 2013 Zimbabwe constitution on the Rights of Children state that; (i)-Every child, that is to say every boy and girl under the age of eighteen years, has the right-
(ii)…….. to the prompt provision of a birth certificate
(iii) to be protected from economic and sexual exploitation, from child labour, and from maltreatment, neglect or any form of abuse;
(iv) to education, health care services, nutrition and shelter.
After getting wind of the violation of the girl’s rights by the neighborhood and school authorities, while undertaking a baseline study on women and girls rights in the area of Rufaro, CGCDZ took the initiative to support the child. The child stays with her aunt who is a sister to the father who abandoned the family to neighboring South Africa. Before coming to stay with the aunt she was staying with the grandmother in Chiredzi. The major reason she came to stay with the aunt was that there was no nearby school in Chiredzi.
What is fascinating about Tinei’s situation is that she stays with two other siblings who happen to be the daughters of the aunt attending at the same primary school whose school fees are paid up. She has constantly skipped coming to school because of failure to complete household chores assigned to her by the aunt. When CGCDZ Operations Manager, Mr Chida Mudadi interviewed the child she mentioned that “It was better to stay under the prevailing conditions while attending school rather than going to stay in peace with my grandmother without going to school”. CGCDZ gave the donation to the child with the assumption that the abuse might have been a result of covert factors like the economic hardships experienced at household level. The child’s focus, vision and determination towards education compelled the organization to provide support.
Senior staff at Rufaro primary school, Tinei’s aunt (white hat) and CGCDZ Secretariat pose for a photo after the donation at the school.
Mr Elliot Vengesa, CEO for CGCDZ engaged the aunt and counselled her after which she promised to play a part in ensuring that she will complement the efforts of CGCDZ. With the blessing of the aunt CGCDZ will assist the child to get a birth certificate so that she will participate in sporting activities at the school. The aunt was present during the handover ceremony of the items provided by CGCDZ.
According to the school head of Rufaro Primary Mr. Kudzai Bakuri, students from a private school called Eddrovale College once sacrificed their pocket money to pay for Tinei’s school fees after receiving her plight, however, it was a once off termly fees payment unlike CGCDZ which has paid up all the arrears and the fees for primary education. The school head expressed gratitude and mentioned that the child is bright and her prospects of continuing with education were affected by the circumstances at home. The Class teacher concurred that her performance was going down and she had withdrawn herself from other peers because of lack of descent clothing.
Currently, CGCDZ is fundraising to build a safe home/shelter for victims of abuse on a six hectare piece of land it secured from Masvingo Rural District Council. The safe homes will provide shelter and life skills to victims of abuse. The CEO for CGCDZ Mr. Elliot called upon well-wishers and the donor community to support the construction of the safe homes/shelter to protect victims of abuse like children staying with abusive guardians or parents. He mentioned that the organization envisions to set up safe homes/shelters in all the districts of Masvingo province.
Masvingo province experience high incidences of Gender Based Violence because of its patriarchal nature. According to “The Herald” (national newspaper in Zimbabwe) of November 2018, the provincial head in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development noted that government was concerned with the increase in cases of gender-based violence around Masvingo Province. He said that they were working on a multi-sectorial approach to reduce the scourge since they were receiving an average of 100 cases from all the province’s seven administrative districts monthly.
Some pictures taken on the day of the donation
Senior staff at Rufaro primary school pose for a photo with the child after the donation. It wasvictory day for the girl as she shed tears of joy.
Faces of jubilation and happiness. Dream come true for Tinei
CEO for CGCDZ handing over some of the stationary to the child during the handover ceremony at the school