AFTER three months volunteering with Restless Development in Africa, a 19-year-old Alton student has started a project with two friends which she hopes will provide education and school uniforms for children in an orphanage in Zimbabwe.
During her time volunteering with Restless Development – a youth-led development agency placing young people at the forefront of charitable development in Africa and Asia – Tash Collins has been involved in two campaigns on women’s empowerment, taught at three schools and run educational sessions for out-of-school youths on sexual health and livelihoods.
While working in Zimbabwe, Tash and her friends have come to realise that local people do not take their education for granted. She said: “For a lot, it’s a privilege. Many families struggle with the fees due to the fact there isn’t a free education for all system.
“As volunteers, we questioned what happens when a child is an orphan and doesn’t have the family support to pay for school fees.
“It’s rare for a child to be adopted, leaving many children stuck in a children’s home until adolescence, and they can’t be educated because they can’t afford school uniform, forcing them to drop out early due to strict uniform rules.”
Now Tash, and her friends Constance Kitju, 27, from Harare, and Cassia Swift, 19, from Bristol, have launched a project to help raise funds for the 30 orphans, aged from eight to 18, who live in a home in Harare.
They plan to raise domestic rabbits to sell as pets to the wealthy families in Harare.
Tash said: “We need the money to buy the rabbits, the hutches and the food and once the rabbits start selling the children can carry on the project on their own and it will mean they will have a constant fund of money to buy uniforms and pay for their education.”
The three agreed it was a good scheme to help these children become self-sufficient after Constance’s parents, who live in Harare, ran a similar and successful business some years ago.
“With the help of family – my parents Caroline and Chris and my older sister Emma have all given money – we have raised £120,” said Tash. “I am hoping more people will support our project as it will help educate 30 orphaned children who, without education, won’t be able to get a job when they leave the home.”
Tash, who was on a gap year, is going to university in September to read criminology and sociology with plans to become a charity worker when she leaves. She also hopes to return to Harare one day and that by then the pet rabbit business will be a big success.
To support the project, visit crowdfunding.justgiving.com/tash-collins or e-mail email@example.com.