Imagine being 19 years old and a single parent to a toddler whilst also providing for elderly parents. Imagine feeling that the only choice you have to support yourself and your family is to sell your body for sex. It’s a harrowing thought, isn’t it?
That is exactly what happened to Owethu. Like so many girls and women in Zimbabwe, she was made vulnerable by the country’s increasingly dire economic situation.
But Owethu is one of the lucky ones, as she found the Nehemiah Project’s Shining Star project. It has helped her transform her life by providing her with vocational and business skills training and support, to create an alternative means of income.
“Shining Star has helped me a lot. First, I studied catering then I underwent 9 months of apprenticeship at Slice Pizzeria. Now I am a permanent worker there.
Life has changed a lot. I sold my body for sex and I used to be an alcoholic. But now I no longer drink. I am focusing on my work and my child and my family.
If I hadn’t joined Shining Star, I would still be a sex worker. By now, maybe I’d have contracted diseases because we have got a lot of challenges. We are insulted, we contract diseases, sometimes we get arrested.
In the sex trade, we used to make maybe $20 a day if there were enough clients. It depends how lucky you are because there are a lot of us. But now a month I can raise maybe $150 and, at Slice, customers tip us. So it’s way more different, because now I can budget and moreover I can use my tips to buy maybe relish, and mealie meal.
I want to start my own thing, maybe my own restaurant because now I am experienced because my manager teaches me everything in each department at Slice.
Now, my mum is happy. The improvement, it’s way better than I was doing last year.”
The Shining Star Project also supports ladies in getting started in hairdressing and beauty, chicken rearing, tailoring, and retail ventures.
But none of this is possible without your help.
This week, please would you show your support for girls and women like Owethu by giving in our Shining Star appeal and helping us raise £2000?
Your gift also has the potential to make twice the difference as the first £2000 of donations will be DOUBLED by the Hadfield Woodford Trust.
So, if you give £25, this will be doubled to £50 and £50 could provide an induction hob, saucepan, chopping board and knife so a Shining Star lady can practice cooking at home and then cook goods to sell.
Please give whatever you can so more girls like Owethu can find a way out of the sex trade.
Listen to Owethu, Lindale, and Mantwa tell their stories: