How ActionAid girls clubs help girls at risk in Zanzibar | ActionAid UK

Natalia Fricker

Digital Communications

Zeinab, 10, lives on the island of Zanzibar, in Tanzania. Girls like Zeinab are at serious risk of abuse. Rape, female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and domestic violence are common: more than one in 20 women in Zanzibar reported experiencing at least one incident of sexual violence before the age of 18, according to a UNICEF report. Here Zeinab and her mum Maryam tell us about how child sponsorship has made a difference in their lives.

Zeinab, 10, smiling at her home in the village where she lives, Zanzibar. Zeinab is part of ActionAid's sponsorship programme in her village.
10-year-old sponsored child Zeinab smiling at her home on the outskirts of StoneTown, Zanzibar

10-year-old Zeinab shares what she's learned at ActionAid girls clubs

My name is Zeinab. I study at school. I’m in Standard 4A and I’m ten years old. I love Swahili as a subject because it’s my language.

My friends at school are Zakina, Fatima, Kasiem, Hadidja, Badima, Nazufa. We like to play different games like Nagi, Oki, Chama and we also skip.

Zeinab

We have a girls club at school. In the club we are taught about violence. We are told as girls we should not move around by ourselves. We should not go to fetch water all by ourselves. We should not walk around in bushes.

Someone I know was going to the shop and something horrible was done to her.

Even if they will say that they’ll do for us something very wonderful, we should not accept. Even if they say that maybe they will give us some money, we shouldn’t accept it. Even if a person calls us and says 'Oh, I'll give you a phone', we should not accept that at all.

Rahma, Zeinab and Asha

Someone I know was going to the shop and something horrible was done to her. Another girl was going to school and a very bad thing happened to her, and then another was also offered some money and something horrible happened to her also.

Rahma, Zeinab and Asha

In the girls club we’ve learnt about children’s rights – like children’s rights to participate, children’s right to get an education, and children’s rights to be able to be heard.

There’s a suggestion box where we can write anything that we feel or what we’ve gone through and then it really helps a lot.

The best thing about girls club is when we sit together and talk about different things. When we sit together we talk about issues of violence and then there’s a suggestion box where we can write anything that we feel or what we’ve gone through and then it really helps a lot. Once you've finished writing, you put your message in the suggestion box.

Zeinab, Rahma and Asha

When I grow up I would like to be a teacher so that I can educate students.

How child sponsorship is helping girls like Zeinab

Zeinab and her friends are all sponsored by ActionAid. They are just some of thousands of girls ActionAid is reaching through our child sponsorship programmes in Zanzibar and the rest of Tanzania. Girls clubs plays a vital role in teaching girls about their rights, preparing them to protect themselves from violence, and helping them through school so they can learn and flourish.

Child sponsorship also supports parents and the wider community with training and essential services, to help them earn an income and better proivde for their children, as Zeinab's mum Maryam explains.

Proud mum, Maryam, 35, describes the transformation in her daughter

This whole child sponsorship programme has helped Zeinab a lot. She now has time to go play with her friends, she gets to know about a great many things and she’s so happy.

Child sponsorship has helped Zeinab a lot. After she joined the programme, she became so active.

Within this village the situation of sexual violence is not such a risk. We try to make sure that they’re protected. However, it becomes a problem when they move away and then they become exposed to danger. Outside of here girls may be raped.

Maryam

Before sponsorship Zeinab was bit reserved. She wasn’t really that energetic, but after she joined the programme, she became so active – interacting with other children, playing and is so cheerful.

Through sponsorship funding a school, a nursery and a hospital were constructed for us. I also received training on how to grow vegetables which I really appreciate.

Through sponsorship funding a school, a nursery and a hospital were constructed for us.

As a community our resources were limited, but now we have a hospital. Our children used to have problems at school, but part of a school was constructed and now children have a place where they can go.

Zeinab & Maryam

We are thankful that in our village most of the children have not been affected by violence. Most are taken care of very well. But the girls club has helped the children a lot because after attending they come into the village and the community and they teach other children about the things that they’ve learned, like issues of violence.”

Sponsor a child today

By sponsoring a child you could help us reach more children like Zeinab. You will have the chance to build your own relationship with your sponsored child through exchanging letters and you will get a unique insight into their life from regular reports from their community.

Learn more about child sponsorship and start sponsoring today

Photos: Rachel Palmer / ActionAid