Branch Co-ordinator, Ikamva Youth
Nyasha Zvomuya knew when she joined the Zimbabwe Peace Project in 2007 as an advocate for peace during a time of heavy political unrest, her job would not be an easy one.
But when government-aligned forces kidnapped three of her colleagues, her job became impossible. With a bachelor of arts with honours degree and a lot of conviction, she fled to South Africa in 2010 hoping that one day she would return to her home country.
Having two community-minded parents meant that the 30-year-old had “always been interested in being involved in some kind of helping service,” she said. “I had initially decided on becoming a doctor, but I soon figured out that there were other ways I could help people”.
In South Africa she joined the NGO Teachers without Borders, where she worked for two years. But joining the American organisation was not that simple – it did not have a South African branch. With a large dose of determination Nyasha set to work changing this. In a few short months she had enlisted the help of 30 volunteers, established a good working relationship with the Eastern Cape education department, and had begun the first of many successful workshops at 91 schools in the province, training teachers to incorporate peace education in their classrooms.
Zvomuya left Teachers without Borders in in 2012 and, instead of returning to Zimbabwe, joined another education nongovernmental organisation – Ikamva Youth.
Being one of its branch co-ordinators means running an office that offers many things to many people but with the main aim of guiding high school pupils from the Ivory Park township into higher education.
Zvomuya co-ordinates tutoring, career guidance and computer literacy for pupils, among other things. She also helps them to apply for tertiary education, and liases with their parents, principals and teachers to make sure that school is indeed the springboard for the rest of their lives.
In 2012 every grade 12 pupil that came to her branch for help either got into tertiary education or found employment. Last year 94% of them passed their exams. Her dedication to this juggling act of duties has paid off for these historically disadvantaged pupils. “We have had countless success stories of pupils who are the first in their families to pass matric and get into tertiary education,” she said. “I love that we have changed family’s futures for the better.” — Victoria John