Stabile Tsumisa: The journey to her life’s transformation

After noticing that Stabile was no longer attending lessons, the authorities at Chisambiji Primary School made a follow-up on her and discovered that the girl had been psychologically affected by the incarceration of her father to the extent that she was now reluctant to go to school, mostly for fear of being ridiculed by her peers at school. Stabile said she started resenting school following a barrage of verbal attacks from her peers over her father’s crimes. In her own words she said:

“I started hating school when my friends mocked me over my father’s arrest. However, my teacher would come to our home and assure me that my father would come back and also that I had a chance to visit him in jail. My friends Lynette and Linear who are all in grade seven including my sister who is in secondary school also urged me to come back to school.”

Stabile’s mother, Tsatsavani Jonasi said she was finding it difficult to fend for her three children as she sold all their beasts to raise money to pay the lawyers who were representing her husband who was being accused of stealing 10 beasts. She can hardly sustain her family with the little she gets from conducting menial jobs.

“When my husband was jailed, I was left with nothing after selling our only five cattle to raise legal fees for his freedom. Despite all that, my husband was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison. We were left with nothing, and this was when my daughter began refusing to go to school as she was so close to her father. At the same time, I was not able to raise her fees single-handedly,” she said.


Stabile is now back at school as a result of effective psychosocial support (PSS) offered by the PSS teachers at Chisambiji Primary School, who will make follow ups and visit affected children at their homesteads. Through the Girl Empowerment Movement/Boy Empowerment Movement (GEM/BEM) club rolled out by FACT Chiredzi, Stabile was brought back to school where she got counselling and assurance that the incarceration of her father was temporary. The GEM/BEM programme has seen a significant number of children at Chisambiji and surrounding areas benefit as they are taught about the importance of school, sexual reproductive health, and life skills.


Both Stabile and her mother needed counselling after the father was sent to jail for nine years. Being close to the father, Stabile was left emotionally vulnerable which in turn, increased her susceptibility to abuse in the absence of her father. Also, Stabile’s mother, Tsatsavani was experiencing her own state of vulnerability since she was going through a period of shock where she had to adjust to the reality of being the breadwinner after her husband’s arrest, which also led to her failure to prioritise her child’s ability to go to school as she tried to cope with the challenges before her. The PSS offered by the school played an important role in changing the situation for both mother and child. The training offered to PSS teachers under this Irish Aid project has built the capacity of local structures to provide community based counselling to beneficiaries, thereby contributing to long term sustainability of the initiative. As a result, there is need to continue building the capacity of the teachers to improve their counselling skills, and also to ensure that this counselling is always offered to both guardian and OVC.


Chisambiji psycho-social support teacher Joice Watungwa said there is need for HIV and AIDS support organisations and other civic organisations to join hands with government with a view to helping the orphaned, vulnerable and child-headed children. In her own words;


“As school authorities we are happy that the intervention made by FACT Chiredzi through youth education programmes which has seen more than 20 pupils in 2016 coming back to school after dropping out.”


PSS teachers continue to conduct follow up activities on OVC that fail to turn up for school. The GEM/ BEM clubs continue to be a platform for identifying these vulnerable children as their peers become empowered on issues related to child rights, and prevention of gender based violence.

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