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About the Beatrice Project

We dream of a time when all of Zimbabwe's young women are treated with dignity and respect ...

... a time when girls and boys value one another and the unique contribution each can bring to their community and where opportunities in life are not limited to the privileged few.

The Beatrice Project with Ntombi Nto Girl Child Network (Registered Trust in Zimbabwe)

The Beatrice Project was formally launched by Mrs Joy Khumalo in Zimbabwe in 2015 and was set up by her in partnership with Sue Hutchinson in the UK. The project grew out of concerns from teachers and community leaders in some of the poor rural areas of Zimbabwe. They saw many girls dropping out of school soon after puberty because of a lack of hygienic and affordable sanitary protection. The work is now registered  in Zimbabwe  as a Trust called Ntombi Nto Girl Child Network – a wholesome young woman – and is supported by the Beatrice Project.

Ntombi Nto started by supplying sanitary pads to local groups to help enable the girls to complete their education and fulfil a positive role in their communities. The Beatrice Project now supports the provision of a choice of sanitary protection to 300 girls. Although many start with disposable pads we are working towards more sustainable methods. Gradually each school is being supplied with a sewing machine and start-up materials and the textiles teacher oversees the production of masks and reusable pad kits. This practical provision is enriched by monthly workshops eg: on reproductive health and child protection.

Sessions are led by local leaders and girls who we have helped train as peer educators, using a wonderful Zimbabwean produced tool kit called ‘Auntie Stella’ which is in the local language and uses real life scenarios. After training led by a local expert, on menstrual cups, and in consultation with local leaders, many of the girls now happily use this convenient and sustainable method. We get excellent feedback on project outcomes from headteachers.  The success of our intervention is evident in the increased school attendance of the girls in our pilot group. Absenteeism was at 3-7 days per month: figures from the schools indicate that the same girls are now attending almost 100% of the time!

At the close of the last residential camp led by the Beatrice Project (held in 2018), one of the young ladies delivered this speech: ‘For the change that has taken place in my community, I express my gratitude. For the provision of sanitary wear and the delivering of menstrual education to our girls, imbokodo zakusasa (mothers of tomorrow), I commend our donors: we are really grateful as a community. To the entire Beatrice Project /Ntombi Nto group…siyabonga, iNkosi yezulu ilenzele kahle (thank you, may the good Lord bless you).

We will continue to support this wonderful project which has already allowed hundreds of girls to stay on at school after puberty and helped to restore dignity and a future for these girls. To be part of changing the world for these precious young girls is an honour and a privilege. With your help, the work can continue to flourish and grow so that more and more young people are empowered and enabled to fulfil their potential. Some of them could surely become the leaders of tomorrow, instrumental in guiding their beautiful nation to a brighter future.

Authors: Karen Trewinnard and Sue Hutchinson