Taking note - VLI students learning new skills

Last year SEED partnered with the Department of Social Welfare and Victorious Learning Institute (VLI) to deliver a seminar for secondary school students highlighting the dangers of drug abuse. We talked then about the possibility of using our experience in skills development with the group. We are excited to report that this hope has now been realised.

SEED's Community Development Workers carried out a needs assessment in Mufakose, the high-density suburb of Harare where VLI is located. They found that 95% of former students are unemployed, 2-in-5 abuse drugs and 1-in-5 is a member of a gang. There is a lot of hopelessness, especially among those who failed either to proceed with or to complete their studies. One problem identified through the assessment was that the curriculum in schools does not empower students with the life and business skills which they need most after school. Without these skills, it is an easy slide into drug-related activities or prostitution.

We are now working with three groups of twenty current VLI students who struggle to pay their school fees and ex-students who failed to complete their studies for a variety of socio-economic reasons.

The trainees themselves helped to identify everyday income-generating activities that are useful in their residential area and that would enable them to further their studies or to earn a living if they were to learn the necessary skills. Ideas included sewing, baking, and raising chickens. In the end, the group opted for training in detergent, dishwashing fluid and polish manufacture.

The first two groups of students have already started and are excited about what they learnt. They already realise how much money their parents have been wasting, buying products that they could easily make themselves. Training will take half-a-day a week and will last for four weeks. We will then hold a business skills workshop to equip the students with a basic understanding of how to run their own small business.

By the end of the year, that should be 60 more individuals empowered to help provide for their families, further their studies, and help pay for the schooling of younger relatives. We are thankful to those trusts and individuals whose generosity has made this project possible.

Update (25 November 2014): The students have now completed their training. Nyasha, one of SEED's community development workers, commented, "We are looking forward to hearing great stories coming out from the groups and what they manage to start up. We have given the seed to start; now we are confident they will begin to plant that seed so that it grows."

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