Larfage empowers 100 disadvantaged girls

HARARE - One hundred girls from Harare’s Mabvuku and Tafara graduated at Manresa Club last Friday after undergoing vocational training under Larfage Cement Zimbabwe’s corporate social responsibility programme called Simuka Upenye Empowerment Programme.

The girls were trained in brick and block laying, clothing, construction as well as professional cookery and bakery.

The cement company launched the initiative in 2017 as part of efforts to empower disadvantaged girls and young women living in communities within the vicinity of Larfage’s operations.

After being shocked by the rise of baby dumping cases around the Larfage site, the cement company came up with an empowerment programme after realising that most of the culprits were uneducated orphaned girls.

“An analysis into the issue showed that this was mainly done by young orphan girls who had little or no education and had either resorted to prostitution or had become vulnerable to unsafe sexual behaviours,” said  Larfage in a statement, adding:

“Because of their low levels education, these young women’s access to decent employment is very limited. They are left to opt for prostitution or early marriages where they are not in a position to bargain for safe and balanced marriages let alone safe sex.”

In effort to empower the vulnerable girls, Larfage came up with Simuka Upenye Empowerment Programme, targeting girls aged between 16 and 22, which is structured on four intervention pillars namely mentorship, vocational training, business development and life skills coaching.

The company sought the help of Mabvuku Social Services and Mavambo Orphan Care Trust to select 100 girls after which it identified partners to help train the girls. 

The Simuka Upenye Empowerment Programme partner organisations include UNFPA, Women’s University of Africa, Steward Bank, Harare Polytechnic, Msasa Industrial and Technical College, Kingsport Investments, Servcor, Mabvuku Social Services and the Department of Housing and Community Services.

Larfage also roped in influential mentors from diverse backgrounds to inspire the young women and hold them to account throughout the programme. 

According to Kaziwe Kalule, who has just taken over as Larfage Cement Zimbabwe chief executive officer from Amal Tantawy, the Simuka Upenye Empowerment Programme has presented the girls a platform to change their lives in a positive way.

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