Nike Foundation: One Skill for a Lifetime of Success

Rwanda Education

Sithandazile entered a CRS vocational education program which included 6 months of classroom training and a 6-month apprenticeship with a local business. Photo by Melita Sawyer/CRS

Catholic Relief Services is improving the lives of adolescents in Rwanda and Zimbabwe. The Nike Foundation provided funding for CRS to study the impact of the programs on the lives of adolescent girls in the countries. This is part two in a four-part series about these programs.

By Patrick Carney

Pregnant girls aren’t allowed to go to school in Zimbabwe.

Young mothers don’t have time to go to school in Zimbabwe.

With high rates of teenage pregnancy, it’s very hard to break the cycle of generation after generation of girls leaving school before their education is complete.

CRS helps give a generation of girls in places like Rwanda and Zimbabwe a chance to get an education. The goal: to help educate one generation of girls who will then make sure their own children are educated. That will lead to generations of educated adults.

Sithandazile was pregnant by the time she was 15 years old. She lived with her grandmother who was raising 12 children. She was destined to follow the path of so many other girls in her community. The path often leads to dropping out of school and a life of poverty.

Soon, CRS offered Sithandazile a chance to participate in a vocational education program that included 6 months of classroom training and a 6-month apprenticeship with a local business. She was taught to be a seamstress, and with this program she was making a living, learning a craft, and staying off of the streets where many of her peers become prostitutes to make enough money to eat.

After excelling in her vocational training program where she was recognized as the most outstanding student, Sithandazile was hired by the training program and teaches other girls to sew. She also makes clothes to sell. With this increased income, she is giving herself and her child a future. Now, their future includes an education, a steady income and no need to turn to the streets.

Sithandazile, now 20, is earning $200 per month making clothes and $40 per month making and selling cupboards.
Now, she is giving her brother the opportunity to receive an education. Sithandazile pays for her brother’s school fees and uniforms. She also provides her grandmother with groceries and other essential items. She even saves about $10 per month with a plan to buy her own sewing machine this year.

“Get all the knowledge you can,” Sithandazile says, “so you can stand on your own and earn a living.”

Patrick Carney is an associate web producer, writer and editor for Catholic Relief Services. He is based at CRS headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland.

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