Unemployment is the most universal challenge faced by young people in Zimbabwe due to the socio-economic collapse, young people in Zimbabwe constitute more than 60 percent and the rate of unemployment is witnessed in the same group.

As a result of unemployment young people are indulging in various practices these include drug abuse, violence and crime, promiscuity leading to prostitution where they end up contracting and transmitting Sexually Transmitted Infections which can be injurious to their health.

According to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey 2010/11 the HIV prevalence rate for young people between the age of 15-24 is 5.5 % and the majority of adolescents and young people living with HIV are orphans and vulnerable.

It is important to note that, because of HIV-Related Stigma in young people living with HIV, they are finding it difficult to be employed, even though they have necessary qualifications and skills.

In an effort to improve the socio-economic status of young people living with HIV, Africaid continues to offer vocational skills training and mentorship. This has been made possible through financial and technical support from Swiss AIDS Care International (SACI) in collaboration with Newlands Clinic. The project is a response to the critical need to assist young people living with HIV to secure gainful employment and an income to support themselves both now and in the future. The intervention targets young people with minimal academic qualifications.

Africaid Zvandiri Vocational Skills Training Programme Beneficiaries.

Africaid Zvandiri Vocational Skills Training Programme Beneficiaries.

“The Vocational Skills Training program is a pillar in the lives of beneficiaries; finally they have something to lean on in terms of their socio-economic aspects. Some might have stress because they do not have anything to put on the table but through this initiative they get an income which supports themselves and their families since some of them are breadwinners” said the Vocational Skills Training Officer, Mr Tonderai Rupiya.

Amongst the groups which were trained, a team of 3 young people (2 Females and 1 Male) from 2013 intake are implementing the skills they acquired from the Interior Décor Course.

Enock Tapiwa Mhembere (24), Roseline Gamuchirai Nyamuda (24) and Magret Bayiwota (24) are the beneficiaries from Harare who were trained under the Zvandiri Vocational Skills Training Programme.

“Before Africaid VST programme l used to stay with my guardian,l tried to look for a job but l could not find any.l got $10 and l looked for a place to rent in Mbare. I started to buy oil in bulk on credit and sale it in small containers.

“I was asked by Africaid about my life and l told them everything, they introduced me to the VST Programme where l was trained to be a professional in the interior décor industry.” said Enock Tapiwa Mhembere a beneficiary of the Vocational Skills Training Programme.

Many young people have gained confidence to stand amongst other people because of this initiative.

“As young mothers we have gained more experience since we were trained to do interior décor and we are now empowered and employed, things are hard but we can look after our lives and the welfare of our families.” said Roseline Gamuchirai Nyamuda,a beneficiary of the Vocational Skills Training Programme.

140 young people were recruited and trained by Hands of Hope Institute and Harare Polytechnic College. The young people completed courses in 12 different professional courses. 79%) of the students are now actively employed and / or running their own income generating businesses. As part of capacity building and mentorship support, business trainings were held in 2014 so that young people can have the requisite skills and knowledge to successfully run their businesses. The trainings were mainly focused on entrepreneurship, personal branding, financial literacy and bookkeeping.

It is of paramount significance to note that the Vocational Skills Training Program does not equip the beneficiaries with entrepreneurship skills only but all the young people who were trained now have high self-esteem.

“We want to thank those who helped us to be trained, as young people who were equipped with interior décor skills, we also want to train the next batch of adolescents and young people on interior décor .We also want to acknowledge Africaid because they helped us to discover our talents and they natured them, now we can stand confident in front of other people.” said Magret Bayiwota, a beneficiary of the Vocational Skills Training Programme.

Today, in the face of economic challenges the group members are now able to take good care of their families.

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