When Ottilia graduated with a Degree in Psychology, she thought her life was going to change for the better. She imagined herself taking care of her family, including her single mother who was living a desperate life in South Africa. Life did not treat her kindly though, she found herself joining thousands of her peers who were roaming the streets looking for employment.

“My father died when we were very young, and my mother worked tirelessly to pay for our school fees and to put food on the table. When I completed my tertiary education and failed to get a job, I started a small detergent business walking long distances to sell my products. I was frustrated and hopeless.”

As she was selling her products, Ottilia met the District Aids Coordinator in her community who linked her up with the DREAMS Program Facilitator. “I made a quick decision to join the program. I had never been exposed to HIV prevention education, I found the program interesting and enlightening. During the training I picked up one word ‘resilience’ and up to this day I don’t give up easily on my set goals.”

“I developed into a strong, bold and wise woman and because of the DREAMS program I am living the dream that was once a fantasy. The DREAMS Facilitator became my mentor as I experienced a few challenges along the way, I felt content and safe knowing she was just a phone call away and always willing to help. This made me realise that the DREAMS program does not only equip you with knowledge to make healthy choices, but it also offers psycho-social support through its employees who are always there to hold your hand.”

After six months of hard work reaching out to other vulnerable girls and young women in the community, Ottilia was assigned to be a DREAMS Club Supervisor. She was responsible for supervising 13 DREAMS Facilitators who were trained by the program. Her determination and work ethic resulted in her being promoted to be the DREAMS District Facilitator. “I became a coach, a mentor, and an advisor for my peers and other cadres.”

Since joining DREAMS in 2015, Ottilia has been an incredibly hardworking young woman, taking every opportunity she can to practise her life skills and share her knowledge with vulnerable girls and young women in her community. In February 2018, she was employed as an Assistant Project Officer in Mazowe District before she graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in Project Management. In 2020, she was promoted to become the District Adolescent Girls and Young Women Prevention Services Officer (PSO) with the Zimbabwe Health Interventions in Bulilima District. She is currently undergoing a training as an IMSAFER Supervisor. (IMSAFER is a dual-gender program that teaches adolescent girls and boys to stand up and defend themselves).

“As I celebrate five years with DREAMS, I have a lot to show. I have new ideologies that have enabled me to think outside the box that I was raised in. I have bigger and better dreams and I feel encouraged to support adolescent girls and young women to fight for what they believe in and face the future with determination.”