A girls’ dream to change the world

A regular chat between two young Zimbabweans studying at a foreign university has given birth to a revolutionary concept that could change the lives of vulnerable children.

A regular chat between two young Zimbabweans studying at a foreign university has given birth to a revolutionary concept that could change the lives of vulnerable children.


The Inspire Tutors team

Dionne Sanyanga and Tafadzwa Ngosi were studying at the University of Cape Town in South Africa in 2014 when they realised their potential to change the lives of disadvantaged children through volunteerism back home.

“Tafadzwa and I were having a discussion on the quality of education we had in Zimbabwe for institutionalised children,” Sanyanga said.

“Tafadzwa had been working at a foster care institution in Cape Town as part of her degree placement and we were comparing the amount of educational and psychosocial support the children received.”

After some research that exposed gaps in the amount of individual attention given to institutionalised children and the type of instruction provided at their schools in Zimbabwe, Sanyanga and Ngosi had a novel idea.

The two friends set up Inspire Tutors, a community-based organisation that provides academic and psychosocial support to institutionalised and vulnerable children.

Based at the Harare Children’s Home, Inspire Tutors also advocates for inclusive and quality education.

Sanyanga and Ngosi’s research revealed that the majority of the children living in institutions had an opportunity to go to school, but the quality of grades they obtained was not good enough to take them to higher education institutions.

“We started with the research online, gathering information from family members and when we returned home for a winter break, we went to a few institutions to research more,” said Sanyanga, the project’s finance, human resources and administration manager.

“We started developing our proposals and the first manual. On the next break, we approached the first institution and realised we couldn’t help without being physically present.

“So we shelved it until we both graduated.”

Inspire Tutors effectively took off in 2017 and the project’s founders are already dreaming big.

“We focus on providing individual academic tutoring for children in institutions in a bid to improve their academic performance,” Sanyanga said.

“We believe that developmental approaches applied to assisting these institutions should shift from dependency-oriented approaches to those that promote the independence of the children.

“Therefore, we aim to see a world where institutionalised children are not dependent on the system.

“We also offer mentorship services and through this programme we aim to cultivate well-rounded individuals who will contribute positively to our nation and the rest of the world and with a confident sense of self and personal development.”

Inspire Tutors’ goal is to nurture a generation of Zimbabweans that is passionate about using their privilege to serve other people.

“Inspire Tutors is also very passionate about inclusive education, de-institutionalisation, volunteerism and menstrual health education,” Sanyanga added.

“The law in Zimbabwe states that at the age of 18 the children have to leave the institution (home).

“It is time we saw the lives of these children through a developmental lens and help them come out of their situations through education.

“We saw that we could begin to create many success stories and make the children see beyond depending on the institutions for the rest of their lives.

“We believed that this programme could be the beginning of a new development tragectory in Zimbabwe.”

The initiative thrives on innovative community events and projects.

“We have three main upcoming events for the sustainability of Inspire Tutors, the first being the Inspire Charitail, which will be held in November 2018.

“This is an event, which will bring together different organisations and individuals to partner with Inspire Tutors either financially or in kind,” said Natasha Mkaronda, the fundraising and sustainability manager.

“The second event is the Inspire Arts Fest to be held in December this year where Inspire Tutors will premiere a film under the Herstory Series touching on HIV/Aids awareness as December is World Aids Month.

“The third event we are looking forward to is the Annual Walkathon in partnership with Harare Children’s Home.

“This will be held beginning of March 2019. All these functions will also aim to advertise and bring in tutors and volunteers.”

It has, however, not been smooth sailing for Inspire Tutors as they are struggling to raise enough money to fund their activities.

Kuzivakwashe Chikanda, the project co-ordinator, said their situation was being complicated by the fact that Zimbabweans had no culture of volunteerism.

“On human capital, volunteerism in Zimbabwe is nearly non-existent,” she said.

“People do not understand what volunteerism is and the responsibility that it comes with.

“Volunteering doesn’t necessarily mean financial help, but it means taking time out of your busy schedule to help someone, sharing knowledge and skills, listening to one and so much more.

“As a self-funded organisation for the past 20 months, we have been operating well, but as we expand into other institutions we find ourselves under serious financial constraints.”

The initiative has a number of long and short-term plans to spread its activities across the country.

“Our plans include having more institutionalised children passing their Grade 7, Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examinations, to instil a volunteer culture among our local Zimbabwean community, to register as a private voluntary organisation, to have the issues of institutionalised children heard, and to have our model endorsed by the Ministry of Education,” said Ngosi, who is the social impact and partnership manager.

“Our long-term plans include having our model replicated in more institutions and grow our programnes’ reach locally, nationally and regionally. We also aim to facilitate volunteer exchange programmes, to have more opportunities being availed to children in institutions and children with learning disabilities as well as to have key organisations such as the United Nations recognise the Inspire Tutors’ model as a solution to the crisis of lack of quality education availed to institutionalised children. We also hope to get to addressing Sustainable Development Goal number four on quality education.”

Sanyanga said Zimbabweans could join their project through “volunteering as academic tutors, mentors through, donations and sponsoring a child for educational therapy”.

Zimbabwe has 1,2 million orphans, but only 800 are staying in children’s homes in Harare.