By Emily Kaliwo-Mana
Project Officer for Essential Gender Based Violence (GBV) Services and Protection for Youth Network and Counseling (YONECO) in Chiradzulu, Tylos Mandiwe has praised village savings and loan groups (VSL groups) for reducing cases of GBV and school dropouts in the district.
Mandiwe made the remarks on Friday at Chiradzulu Boma when 20 economic empowerment volunteers from traditional authorities Likoswe and Kadewere received bicycles to ease their mobility when visiting their VSL groups.
He said economic empowerment is a necessary tool to help communities solve their own socio-economic challenges, thereby contributing to development at both community and national levels.
“Members contribute an agreed amount and save it and take loans to do businesses so that they can support school children with their daily needs without problems, hence reducing GBV and school dropouts in the process,” Mandiwe said.
Mandiwe disclosed that the volunteers were equipped with modern technologies and that more people were joining the groups, raising hopes the goal of economic empowerment would be achieved.
Speaking on the youth, Mandiwe lamented that some parents were restricting their children from joining Protect Our Youth (POY) clubs in secondary schools which targets girls of 14-17 years.
Protect Our Youth clubs are where learners are taught how to protect themselves from acts of gender based violence, a development that reduces the number of those that fall victim of the acts.
One of the volunteers, Odilo Harrison from Group Village Head Nsomera in Traditional Authority Likoswe said the project has contributed to reduction of girls dropping out of school while some who dropped have gone back to school.
Harrison, therefore, urged YONECO to conduct refresher courses, besides adding some volunteers.
He said where necessary, the organisation should extend the period of the project so that more school children could benefit.
On her part, another volunteer, Mary Nanchima from Traditional Authority Kadewere commended YONECO for providing bicycles, saying they would ease their work as they were walking long distances when visiting VSL groups.