Zimele strives to boost women

Getting young girls active and engaged in their own lives, and subsequently living life without fear can be a daunting task, but not so for women from Zimele at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation.

The women from Crossroads, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Philippi, Westridge in Mitchell’s Plain, Manenberg, Heideveld and Hanover Park are part of the Women of Worth (WoW) project launched by Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo last year.

The project is supported by the Global Fund which has awarded the department a R81 million grant to aid the fight against tuberculosis (TB), HIV and teenage pregnancy in the Cape Metropole. As part of the Provincial Strategic Goal (PSG) 3 projects, which target young women between the ages of 12 and 24 years, the women host daily activities to build young girls’ self-esteem.

During an oversight visit to the project on Monday August 7, Dr Mbombo said she was impressed that the goal and the target of the projects seemed to be going according to plan.

“For us what is important is to build the girl child. We want to build women.

“We are investing in young people so that we do not raise children who are dented and have scars,” she said.

Dr Mbombo said the R81 million project has helped fund programmes for adolescents and youth in and out of school. She said programmes like Soul Buddies, Keeping Girls at School and Young Women and Girls are just some of those aimed at helping young girls.

“These assist in reducing the prevalence of young women contracting HIV/Aids and TB. It (is also coupled) with an education plan for the prevention of teenage pregnancy through life skills, sexual and reproductive health education, HIV counselling and testing,” she said.

Simthandile Mbuthe from Gugulethu said her aim was to encourage young girls to love themselves.

“We are doing all we can to show them how to love themselves. We need them to open up about their problems and sexual issues. But most importantly they need to have self-esteem,” she said.

Zina Isaacs, from Mitchell’s Plain, said she was once a vulnerable girl, but “this project made a huge difference not only for the girls but us too”.

“We can be proud of who we are,” she said.

Clinical operations manager at the Desmond Tutu Foundation, Colleen Herman, said she wants Zimele to become a household name.

“We are focusing all our efforts on this one community, because we believe that real meaningful change only comes when you intervene at all levels of education, healthcare, government, and community,” she said.

Zimele can be contacted on 021 100 3720.