Matobo is a mining community which has become a haven for risky sexual behaviors as Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) engage in commercial sex work for survival increasing their chances of contracting HIV.

Bongie is a 21-year-old young woman from Ward 6 in Matobo district. Most of her peers left the village to live at the nearby shopping center where they are trying to earn a living through sex work.

“Most of my friends are struggling to make ends meet, artisanal miners take advantage of their desperation and demand unprotected sex. Sometimes they are not paid for their services.”

Bongie joined the DREAMS program in March 2021 together with eleven other AGYW from her community. Upon enrolment to the program, the AGYW were supported to start a social asset building club named Progress, which has become a safe space for them. When they meet, they have time to share information about sexual and reproductive health as well as risky cultural practices that promote the spread of HIV.

The twelve young women were trained on ISAL, and they started target based saving, contributing R10 every week, this was later increased to R50. The money was loaned out to members who started their Income Generating Activities (IGA) and paid back with a 10% interest.  By the end of November 2021, the group members had managed to raise R7000 which they used to buy thirteen goats for the group members. One goat was slaughtered for fundraising and a total of R500 was raised.

“It is my goat, I own it, it belongs to me, not my father, my brother or anyone else but myself, I feel empowered.  I will work hard to grow this project and pursue my educational goals.” Said Bongie with determination.

The Progress savings group has positively influenced AGYW in the community. Some of them have since returned from the shopping center where they were selling sex to join the DREAMS – RISE program.