By Tinaani Nyabereka & Branton Matondo
Gweru -Statistics showed by the 2020 United Nations study indicated that the number of young people living in poverty within the rural setup was previously tagged at 70% while the urban proximity recorded a 35. 2%.
As the eminent realization states that 60% of Zimbabwe’s population rests on the youth sector, such critical and worrisome statistics nevertheless have brought to light the sheer squalor and uncharacteristic state of the Zimbabwean youth.
The emerging of the Covid 19 pandemic, further worsened the situation as the livelihoods of most young people remain at stake amid the prevailing socio-economic hardships which continue to negatively haunt the nation.
Nobuhle Mahlahla, who is the director for Youth Essence, a Midlands-based youth organization that focuses on various youth empowerment initiatives, said a lot of strides have been done to assist the vulnerable youths within the marginalized corners of the community.
“As a youth-driven ensemble, we have basically focused our attention on entrepreneurship opportunities like market gardening whereby we have teach youths on the basics and benefits of agribusiness. We believe that youths should be the primes of entrepreneurship and leadership training. We recently started a financial literacy course in an effort to help youths with their businesses.
“Yes, we have already engaged various stakeholders like Steak and Chips and received donations to assist young people in the rural community. On a much smaller joint platform, we also recognized Sea Lion Refrigeration, Design Centre, Ledlet Investments, Imali projects, and Giga soft as they have added a lot in our endeavors to help the rural child.
“Limited movements have been the major setback because of lockdown restrictions which made it difficult for us to monitor our market gardening project which is still ongoing in Daylesford. Though results were marginal as youths we managed to get some produce to sell from this initiative as we produced sweet potatoes, cabbages and potatoes, “Mahlahla added.
Change is hard at the beginning, messy in the middle, and quite sweet at the end. Their drive to change the economic shape of despaired youth across the Midlands will soon lead them to Lower Gwelo where a detergent making project is set to be established soon.
“We will in the coming weeks engage with youths from Lower Gweru. There we will be teaching them how to make detergents and we are very hopeful change will be visualized,” added Mahlahla.
Youth Essence is not only right, down, and center on issues of youths and poverty eradication, but is also stretching a helping hand on topical challenges such as early child marriages which continues to bedevil communities.
Speaking on the impact of child marriages, Mahlahla further highlighted how partnerships have made it possible for young people to stand against child marriages and gender-based violence.
“We continue to work hand in hand with Women Coalition Of Zimbabwe (WCOZ), Childline and Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA), and MSASA project. Yes, the Mary Machaya saga made bold headlines over the past months and as Youth Essence we have had our share of the fight against this ultimate challenge of child marriages. We continue to take a leading role in the fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) by urging victims to report any form of abuse without fear.
“Our aim is also to offer motivational support to victims of child marriages and gender-based violence. ZWLA has helped a lot in offering free legal advice to women. However, as a Midlands-born youth movement, we remain committed towards community empowerment.” she said.