Pictured: Left- Some of the cosmetics being sold by Tsungai through the mobile boutique. Right- Tsungai wearing a smile she thought would never be seen as her hope for a brighter future has been rekindled.

An old adage says, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” a typical scene that characterizes most Zimbabwean youth of today who are now at the mercy of risky social behaviours which put them at risk of contracting HIV, unintended pregnancies, dealing with mental health problems and abusing elicit substances affectionately known as “drug abuse” all which pose as a threat to their future.

25-year-old Tsungai Mtisi from Mutare a U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through USAID Zimbabwe (USAID) supported district has a different tale to tell as a ray of light has lit her once idle life.

“I never thought that at any given time my life would be a standstill without anything to do.”- Tsungai

Having completed her undergraduate studies in 2019, Tsungai like any other recent graduate she began the hunt for employment to help her financially constrained family. She was left with nothing to do as both her parents felt she had attained the highest level of education and that she had to get a job and help support the family.

“At this point the situation was not pleasing at all my parents had played their part in ensuring I get educated and I needed to get a job and wanted to earn some money to help my family.”- Tsungai

As the effects of idleness began setting in and the need to secure an income, Tsungai began selling sweets to school children and the little money she got was dedicated for mobile data bundles to apply for jobs which did not bear fruit. At this time, she had lost all the hope of earning a living and supporting her family.

It was in September 2020, when all the lost hope was rekindled as she was seconded by the Ministry of Youth, Sports Arts and Recreation to be a Youth Empowerment Facilitator in Mutare under the PEPFAR/ USAID Zimbabwe supported Children Tariro Project implemented by FACT Zimbabwe.

Through the initiative she underwent trainings in financial management, financial literacy, market assessment and partnerships which was facilitated by FACT Zimbabwe in partnership with Old Mutual. The trainings she received made her aware of the opportunities that were there for her and vulnerable children in her community.

“The trainings I received from FACT improved my financial management skills and awakened the entrepreneur in me. Today I value money and the resources I have to save for today and the future.

I can now walk the talk and share skills and knowledge with the children and caregivers in my community.”- Tsungai

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which saw the closure of schools and the disruption of business, her determination and resilience paid off in 2021 as she managed to start a “mobile boutique” through the savings she had made and knowledge gained from the trainings she received. The mobile boutique sells various wares which include bedding sheets, lotions, deodorants, body washing gels, pillows among other wares which has seen her earning an average of USD$200.00 per month.

Since 2016, FACT Zimbabwe with support from PEPFAR/USAID Zimbabwe in partnership with Old Mutual has reached 2,679 orphans and vulnerable children aged 10-17 years and caregivers with financial literacy trainings in Makoni, Mutasa, Mutare, Chipinge, Buhera and Gutu districts.