Rejoice from Mangwe District recently completed her Ordinary Level studies from a local secondary school. Like most of her peers in the village who passed their O’levels, she could not proceed to Advanced Level, neither could she transition to tertiary school due to economic challenges. Most of her friends have since migrated to nearby urban areas in search for greener pastures. Some even migrated to neighboring countries like Botswana and South Africa where stories abound of Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) who get stranded after migrating irregularly into the countries.

“Some of my friends dropped out of school, some completed their O’Levels but could not afford tertiary fees. This has resulted in AGYW in my community risking their lives in urban areas and neighboring countries. Teen pregnancies are increasing as young girls engage in unprotected sex with older men.”

In December 2020, Rejoice joined the DREAMS program together with six other young girls from her community. They found themselves being challenged by the progress being made by AGYW who were already in the DREAMS clubs.

“I soon realized that although I could not proceed to tertiary school, there are opportunities to raise money and pay for distance education.”

The six girls joined one of the social asset groups where they were trained on financial literacy. They were equipped with knowledge on how to start their businesses, budgeting and record keeping. They also received training on Internal Savings and Lending (ISAL) and formed their ISAL group with Rejoice as the chairperson.

“Through our savings we started a small business, selling airtime, snacks and sugar. The demand for sugar was overwhelming, especially the small packs that proved to be affordable to the community.” The group managed to raise R3000, and plans are underway to import more business wares from Botswana and South Africa.

All the eight girls in Rejoice’s group are on the road to improve their lives. They all look forward to enroll with the local vocational center for different practical courses.  One of their mentors Mrs Nyathi assisted them to get a piece of land from Valukhalo Youth Centre where they have started a horticulture project.

“I see our ISAL group reaching greater heights. Horticulture is very lucrative in our community as many people do not have access to water for irrigation. Our business projects keep us busy, and we have no time to engage in risky behaviours.” Said Bongani* one of the group members with gratitude.

With support from the DREAMS program, Rejoice and her friends have inspired their peers to start income generating projects in the district. The girls have since realized that they can raise money for themselves without risking their lives.