Speech by Stanley Ndambakuwa, President & Group CEO at the 'Educate the Girl-Child Campaign' Fundraising dinner at Rainbow Towers Hotel, Harare. Zimbabwe - 03 October 2015

 

The ‘Educate the Girl-Child Campaign’ is meant to capacitate the girl-child. The girl-child is endangered. Strong voices have been raised in support of the girl-child, and today we have all of us here as strong voices rising in support of the girl-child. So this Fundraising Dinner is one of our broad-based and segmented opportunities for anyone to contribute. The campaign is an initiative that seeks to empower children through education but which needs supporters like you to subscribe to it.

 

Honorable Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Chairman, Engineer Dr. Walter Mzembi; the Group Executive Chairperson, Dr. Rudo Sithole, members of the Board of Directors, members of the Group Advisory Board; Your Excellency, the Ambassador of the Republic of Botswana, Mr. Kenny Kapinga and your delegation; Representatives of the Diplomatic Heads of Mission here present, the Consulate-General of the Embassy of South Africa, Ms. Grace Sekgothe, Business people and Corporate Executives, and my fellow citizens.

 

I thank you all for taking your time to be here, recognizing that moments like these are critical to the future of our children. The world needs people like you, who have the will and determination; who are conscious and understanding of the necessities of our time. This moment is the future of the African child, particularly our girls who have been in our hearts since the past few months.

 

‘Education is a weapon in the ongoing fight against poverty.’ – These are the words of President Jacob Zuma in the recent debate on child marriage. As the African Community Fund for Education, we think, enough has been said, and we’re as much convinced today as we’ve been yesterday that education plays a central role in our efforts to protect the girl child.

 

In the past five years, an incredible number of girls have been humiliated, some have been sexually abused and infected with HIV and AIDS, some have been impregnated, school dropouts have affected mostly young girls, some have been demoralized and threatened by gender-based violence, and many have been victimized and unjustly treated in child labor. Sadly, some few have lost their lives, and several manifestations have been experienced even by the disabled.

 

Zimbabwe Police Statistics released by the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development reveal that at least 8 children under 15 years old are sexually abused every day. According to the same sources, latest figures also show that 1 082 children have been abused in Manicaland since 2012 and 994 in the Midlands. A study published in the Clinical Psychology Review 2013 shows that the prevalence rate of child sexual abuse in Africa is 34.4%. UNICEF 2013 Statistics recorded 48.6% Net Attendance Ratio for secondary school girls in Zimbabwe between 2008 and 2012. In relation to that, 3.9% of girls between 2002 – 2012 were married by 15 years, and 30.5% of girls between 2002 – 2012 were married by 18 years.

 

In Africa alone, UNICEF 2013 Statistics reveal that an estimated 3.1 million girls of primary school age and 32 million girls of lower secondary school age were out of school in 2013. Recent estimates published by UNICEF show that 1/3 of girls in the developing world are married before age 18, and 1/3 of women in the developing world give birth before age 20. As per UNICEF Statistics, if girls can be educated, child marriages would fall by 64%, from almost 2.9 million to just over 1 million.

 

My fellow friends, these and other challenges are the indicators of poverty. With a growing number of nuclear families, I am worried especially with the impact on female-headed households. Since the inception of this vision, I have committed two trips to the community of Lalapanzi in Zimbabwe. Prior to that, my knowledge of the community was that of data and statistics published by well-known and anonymous research. Though I had earned the experiences of poverty from the way I lived it, I saw something different when I went to the community to help.

 

A sizeable number of our kids are hopeless about the future; some don’t even think it’s worth it to go to school. But some who are hopeful just don’t have the little funds needed to make it to school. Our education is expensive for the poor who can’t afford everyday basic needs.

 

Many of us here, we have lived through poverty someday in our lives, and I know that an education opportunity helped most of you to escape poverty. I was one day disadvantaged and hopeless but today I bear witness that receiving an academic scholarship was the beginning of my enlightenment, a pivotal turn in the pursuit of the African dream, a legacy and key that changed my life and has made me to pledge to extent the same generosity and kindness to many who are still in the shadows. My journey of life has taught me not to judge unless I’ve known what somebody has been through. I don’t know about you, but for me it’s the time for us to change the life story of our children.

 

Let’s understand this to the mind and heart, that a poor young girl who walks barefoot to school for ten kilometers after doing all the house chores, who survives from a single meal a day, who is being raised by a step father or step mother has little to change her own destiny. But she needs us, people who believe that every person who exists in the African soil has an equal chance to make it in life. In today’s competitive and credentialed global village, education is a master key that can open many doors of opportunity.

 

If we all share a dollar each, it means a million of us can send a village to school, and out of those children, a young poor girl can be saved, and can grow to be one of Africa’s renowned leaders of tomorrow. All this begins with us, right here, right now. We, the Africans must educate and feed our own people. Hope lies within us, riches are within our soil. So why should a poor young girl like one I know here, Monica who is only at Grade 7 but orphaned, fail to go to complete school. Lest we forget the spirit of ‘Ubuntu’ which holds us together.

 

Let’s remember once more that it is imperative for us to take our part in the struggle for life and be part of the history that Africa is making today. No girl should ever have to lose their future if people like you and me have the resources that can bring change to their lives. If we care enough for our children, no child must ever be an orphan. Because we are all mothers and fathers to the children in our society.

 

In this day I’m humbled by our collective efforts to support the vision of the African Community Fund for Education. This day couldn’t have been possible without you. I believe you’re prepared to do whatever it takes including taking extra challenges to support the education of disadvantaged children in Zimbabwe and beyond our borders.

 

We proclaim, much louder, that the right Ubuntu partnership makes a difference. I’d like to recognize that your involvement is critical to the emancipation of the Girl-Child. I wish to guarantee you, as a proud citizen of this country and of this continent, that the African Community Fund for Education recognizes the contributions of everyone, big or small and will ensure the full empowerment of our disadvantaged children enrolled with our programs.

 

In this rightful moment, let me conclude by saying, the African Community Fund for Education has listened to the thoughts of everyone concerning the recurrent debate on girl-child marriages, we appreciate the strong voices that have been raised and for our part through this girl-child initiative we are prepared to educate our girls and help them to escape poverty. The ‘Educate the Girl-Child Campaign’ is just but the beginning.

 

The African child is faced with massive financial problems if they make it to school. We know a school in Zimbabwe has what it takes to make a child succeed if they make it to school but the challenge for a poor child is getting into school without the means to pay for tuition. As for me, I did not see a way out of poverty without an education, but at last an education opportunity gave me access to a descent life.

 

As much as we are patriotic citizens of this world, it is our common responsibility to influence government policy and decision in favor of the girl-child. Every disadvantaged girl must know this, no matter where they come from or who they are, that the African Community Fund for Education has the opportunity for all to get educated in the 21st century. That’s why we are currently focused on attracting partnerships that are curriculum focused and linked to detailed support for our beneficiaries, and we know some of you will be change leaders in this initiative.

 

I need not to remind the world before I can put an end to this speech, that it is those little things that no one sees that produce the things that everyone wants. So hope lies in our potential to raise unfortunate lives. Let’s help to educate the Girl-Child. The status of women remains ideal to the foundations of any society. At African Community Fund for Education, we say we are young, but we are hungry to tackle the poverty challenge, and our beneficiaries come first. For the sake of our daughters, we must take action to make sure they’re educated. And that action can be taken by people like you.

 

I thank you!

 

'Educate the Girl-Child Campaign' Fundraising dinner

Speech on the Girl-Child

at Rainbow Towers Hotel - Harare, Zimbabwe

03 October 2015

'The status of women remains ideal to the foundations of any society.' - Stanley Ndambakuwa

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