Tunda was barely one year old when her father died, leaving her family penniless. Her mother Jemmi fought to support her child alone, but with no qualifications and little work experience she was only able to find poorly paid employment. She knew her meagre earnings would not be enough to fund her daughter’s education.
Jemmi was desperate. She left school in her early teens to get married and had always been determined her daughter would have the opportunities she missed out on. Now it seemed, history was repeating itself.
“Education is empowerment,” Jemmi told us. “If I had completed school I would have a job that would help me take care of my daughter properly. I regret this choice every day.
“I want my child to have a good future and a better education, so she can be independent and self-reliant.”
This is a challenge faced by many parents in the impoverished Chitungwiza neighbourhood in Zimbabwe, where families often cannot afford school fees and books. SOS Children’s Villages has been working with families in the area for over a decade and has helped hundreds of children like Tunda stay in school.
Now the community needed a sustainable solution that would enable future generations of children to continue their educations - so we began helping local schools set up their own businesses.
The income generated by the school-run businesses are funding scholarships for children whose families are in financial difficulty, keeping children in school and away from the violent criminal gangs which are a real problem in the area.
Tunda’s school now runs its own fish-farming, poultry and agriculture business which is funding the education of more than 100 children.
The initiative has proved so successful the government has insisted every school in Zimbabwe run similar income-generating activities to support vulnerable children. These are having a massive impact on the lives of children countrywide, enabling children from struggling families to attend school and teaching them entrepreneurship and other important life skills.
For Tunda, it means she can make plans for her future. “Education is good for me and my mother because it will help us live better and more comfortable lives,” she told us.
“When I finish school, I want to work with birds. I want to study them because they are interesting. Then I will buy my mother a house of her own, so she stops sharing with my aunts.”