Aneni’s mother tragically passed away when she was three months old. Her father died only a few years later, leaving her in the care of her elderly grandmother. With several other children to provide for, her grandmother and could not afford Aneni’s secondary school fees or supplies, leaving her at risk of dropping out of education.
The negative effects of poverty were felt in many areas of the family’s daily lives, making Aneni anxious about their future. With a lack of employment opportunities, her grandmother had to take on tough agricultural labor to support the family. With little income, they could only afford to eat one wholesome meal a day.
The eldest child in the family, Aneni thought she may have to leave school and find low-paying work to help out. So when CAMFED stepped in to cover her school going costs, Aneni’s worries subsided and her dream of becoming a laboratory scientist was re-ignited.
The distance to secondary school remained a challenge for Aneni, as it does for so many girls in rural areas — a challenge that CAMFED works to address by unlocking additional resources for girls’ safe transport and boarding.
Many girls in rural areas face a long journey to school. (Photo: CAMFED/Jeffrey Nyandoro)
Aneni and her friends had a 6 km walk to school, leaving them tired and unable to fully concentrate in class. When construction workers started offering the girls a ride to school, they were unable to resist. Without the knowledge of the school administration, Aneni found herself accepting food, gifts and transport from an older man, putting her in an extremely vulnerable position.
When a wider family member misread the seriousness of the nature of the relationship that was forming, Aneni became at risk of early marriage, putting her education and her future in jeopardy. Fortunately, her head teacher quickly realized the problem when Aneni did not attend school for two days, and immediately alerted the CAMFED Community Development Committee (CDC).
“I now just feel confident about myself knowing that CAMFED cares for me.”
Aneni riding her bicycle, provided by CAMFED and the UK Department for International Development. (Photo: CAMFED/Jeffrey Nyandoro)
Together they assessed the situation and ensured that Aneni was safe from child marriage and had come to no harm. The appropriate authorities were informed and the team made sure that Aneni had the support she needed to return to school. For Aneni, who knew she was not ready for marriage and wanted to stay in school, the intervention was a relief.
Aneni received a bicycle provided by CAMFED in partnership with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) Zimbabwe. This transformed her journey to school, cutting the 1.5 hour walk to only 30 minutes, and giving her more time to rest and study.
Aneni is now able to return home before dark to complete her chores and do her homework, improving her performance in school. She and her friends now understand the dangers of accepting lifts or attention from men, and her story serves as an example for other girls.
“Education means everything to me as my future depends on my success in school. I want to be the first one in my family to complete secondary school.”
Aneni hopes to continue pioneering by going to university and building a career in science. Having been raised by her hard-working grandmother, Aneni would like to make her life more comfortable. She and her classmates know that by remaining in education they can bring a brighter future for themselves, their families and communities.
*Aneni’s name has been changed in order to protect her identity.