Envision Zimbabwe is Peace Direct’s newest partner and in 2009 they have made impressive inroads towards their objective of creating a culture of peace for young people. Their peace education project will work with teachers, youth group leaders and young people, both in and out of school. They are developing a syllabus to be integrated into schools nationwide. The project is called ‘Cool Heads’ and it helps young people explore their values, problems, aspirations and come to understand their potential.
In November Envision held its first interfaith workshop in the rural area of the Murehwa District. Murehwa was victim to the post-election ‘re-education’ campaigns in 2008 and as such the area is very sensitive to ‘outsiders’. NGOs have previously been chased out of the area, and it is only through Envision’s ‘local’ status that it was able to run projects there. The workshops focused on developing the idea of a Peace Education Curriculum, and identified young people who could take part in focus groups.
Envision will use the focus groups to ensure their work will always be informed by and in response to the needs of Zimbabwe’s youth. The challenges the participants face in their everyday life show in microcosm the problems facing the country as a whole. Half of the participants had lost one or both parents and were responsible for bringing up their younger siblings. Whilst nearly all of them had completed schooling, many of them had left without qualifications and the majority of them had no employment.
Envision also aims to apply practical solutions to issues, such as water shortage or poor sanitation, that lead to conflict within communities. They have set up a clean water campaign, working with women in rural Mbare, and in January they will launch a ‘clean-up campaign’ to promote better waste collection in slum areas.
2010 will be an exciting year for Envision. They will continue to expand their workshops in rural areas such as Murehwa and develop their peace education programme to prevent youth being used as tools to perpetuate political violence.
The only jobs we can find are as cotton pickers, maids, prostitutes, thieves, street vendors and other jobs open to street kids. – A Cool Heads graduate
With Envision’s help, 2010 may offer some of these young people a more promising alternative.