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Zinest calls for economic strengthening in drug abuse fight

Takemore Mazuruse at the recent Dzivaresekwa event

Zimbabwe Network for Economic and Social Transformation Trust (Zinest), a community development organisation working to promote economic and social transformation in the country has called for economic strengthening as a gateway to a drug-free generation. 

Speaking at an event designed to plug drug and substance abuse, early marriages as well gender-based violence in Dzivaresekwa recently, Zinest founder and director Takemore Mazuruse said youths must be capacitated with the right life skills and livelihoods projects.

“What we have discovered from our own research as an organisation since 2017 when we started these awareness and public education programmes is that there are so many triggers pushing youths into drug and substance abuse, early marriages and resultantly the upsurge of gender-based violence,” Mazuruse said. 

“We are, therefore, pushing for a holistic approach to the fight against these challenges. Young people must be economically empowered so that they are able to make a stand against the said social ills.” 

Mazuruse said the challenging economic environment had not helped matters with limited opportunities pushing promising young minds into unbecoming behaviour. 

“All hope is not lost because whenever we engage the victims of drug and substance abuse, early marriages as well as gender-based violence, the generally challenging economic environment are considered as the major triggers,” he said.

“Our targeted beneficiaries have the requisite will power and they want the best for their future but their general state of affairs is pushing them to the extremes hence the wanton engagement in drug and substance abuse. 

“Some are being sent into early marriages while gender-based violence in such compromise relationships is on the rise.”

The Dzivaresekwa initiative saw Zinest partnering with organisations like Root Back, Team Flag as well as other corporate partners such as Togaraseyi Projects, Kamili Investments, Esteem Communications, Goldswift Construction, Root Back, Life Shop Fitters as well as Ezeekleen Detergents. 

“We had a highly successful launch of the Dzivaresekwa community anti-drug and substance abuse, early marriages and gender-based violence campaign and we are now working on modalities for a more streamlined approach into the communities,” Mazuruse said. 

“We want to ensure that the targeted beneficiaries are economically strengthened so that they are able to fend for themselves and live purpose driven lives. 

“Various life skills will be taught in local community halls while sports, arts and recreation initiatives will also be infuse.”

The organisation has over the years carried out a number of initiatives aimed at empowering communities and abolishing a number of life-threatening social ills and challenges like drug and substance abuse, HIV and Aids, early marriages as well gender-based violence.

Founded and registered in 2016, Zinest believes economic strengthening and emancipation of all members of society is the gateway to a healthy, progressive and productive generation which adds value to community as well national development. 

“As an advocate for equal opportunities and empowerment of marginalized communities, Zinest is pushing for holistic approach to the diverse challenges bedeviling communities,” Mazuruse said.

“Previous initiatives by our organization include the drug and substance abuse campaign in Highfields which enlisted the support of various influencers among them musicians and development workers. 

“We have also undertaken a lot of online campaigns and utilised the mainstream media for our advocacy work.”

Other Zinest initiatives include educational support interventions in Mbare in partnership with the local chapter of the Young African Leaders Initiative. 

The recent anti-drug and substance abuse, early marriages and gender-based violence initiative in Dzivarasekwa was held with the full blessings of the City of Harare's social welfare department and supported by various corporates.

“Having City of Harare on board means we now have access to local community halls and centres for our training and life skills programmes while the stadiums will come in handy for arts, sports and recreation initiatives,” Mazuruse said. 

The Dzivaresekwa initiative was launched at a full day event held at PaDziva Camp and Caravan where young people were taught about the dangers of drug and substance abuse, early marriages as well as gender-based violence. 

The young people from Dzivaresekwa community also showcased their martial arts, music and dance skills much to the delight of the huge crowd that attended.

The goal is to make the Dzivaresekwa initiative a successful pilot project of a wholesome drug and substance abuse, early marriages and gender-based violence campaign that brings lasting solution through economic strengthening of the vulnerable young people. This can then be replicated in other areas around Zimbabwe. 

Mazuruse, who has worked in the development sector for close to two decades, said the hope is that once the young people's capacity to self-sustain has been developed, they won't waste away to drugs and substances and in the same vein they won't be victims of early marriages which exposes them to gender based violence.

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