WAP has proposed to train five tough-minded girls to serve as “Ambassadors Against Child Marriage.” The girls receive rigorous training in child marriage, child rights, reproductive health and mentoring. They then take their message to their communities, where they will counsel vulnerable girls and alert WAP to cases of abuse or imminent marriage.

We expect this innovative model to benefit 5 girls and 100 family members this year. Once the model has been tested, we will double the number of ambassadors every year. Parallel to this, we will promote its approach with the Zimbabwe authorities, through international partners like Girls Not Brides (of which WAP is a member), and even in American schools. Our hope is that peer support can become accepted strategy within 5 years.

Meet our Ambassadors Below:

Ashley Mavengere, WAP Ambassador from Waterfalls

Ashley lives in Waterfalls, a neighborhood of Harare where the Woman Advocacy Project (WAP) works. “When we had a seminar with WAP, I learned about child marriage and what it does to girls’ futures. No matter how bad the situation is – now I wouldn’t think about getting married” she says. “I couldn’t stand up for myself as a girl. I didn’t know my rights as a girl. I couldn’t open up and tell someone about my situation. Now I have the confidence to speak out.”

Yeukai Chingindi, WAP Ambassador from Waterfalls

Eighteen-year-old Yeukai at an anti-child marriage training in Harare, Zimbabwe. The full day of activities included information about the consequences of early marriage, practice discussing the topic with friends, and a discussion of difficult issues including parental abuse – which can drive girls to seek refuge in marriage. Yeukai is in Form 6 and has been participating in the Woman Advocacy Project (WAP) programs for over a year. “When I grow up, I want to be a human rights lawyer,” she told WAP. “I want to stand for women and for people with disabilities and albinism. Sometimes when I talk about injustice, people say ‘well that’s the way the world is,’ but I think no. Maybe I’m crazy, but I want to stand for justice.”

Trish Makanhiwa, WAP Ambassador from Epworth

Eighteen-year-old Trish lives in Epworth, a neighborhood in Harare where the Women Advocacy Project (WAP) works. She’s currently in Form 6 and hopes to one day become an accountant. In school, she is studying the relevant subjects: accounts, business studies, and economics. When Trish was younger, she lived in a rural village and had a boyfriend. “When I moved here, my Auntie grabbed me by the ears and warned me off boys saying, ‘this is Harare.’ Now I have no boyfriend.”

Rumbidzai Chiramba, WAP Ambassador from Hopley

Nineteen-year-old Rumbidzai lives in Hopley, a suburb of Harare where the Women Advocacy Project (WAP) works. She is in Form 4 at school and her favorite subject is science. “We learn a lot about our health and the functions of our body, it’s very interesting,” Rumbidzai told WAP. Grace hopes to become a primary school teacher after she graduates – but this dream is in jeopardy. Her parents are divorced and Rumbidzai lives with her 25-year-old brother who works as a carpenter and supports her education. “I face a limitation due to lack of finances,” she says. “My brother is having challenges with money, so I’m only registered for four subjects this term.” Each of Rumbidzai’s subjects costs $50 and she explains that it has been very hard to find the money. When asked if she has considered marriage Rumbidzai says, “I don’t want to get married. My desire is to finish my education.”

Eveylene Said Sachiti, WAP Ambassador from Chitungwiza

Nineteen-year-old Eveylene lives in Chitungwiza, a suburb of Harare where the Women Advocacy Project (WAP) works. She completed her Ordinary Level Exam last year but did not collect the results because she could not afford the $295 fee. Eveylene was studying Shona, Literature, and History and hopes to one day study Sociology at University. “I am interested in studying society and how we can help people in the community,” she told WAP. Eveylene has attended WAP’s “Stand Up, Speak Out” anti-child marriage trainings and has also participated in WAP’s recent “Give Us Books, Not Husbands” march. “WAP’s programs are important because of the knowledge you have gained. When I talk to 15-year-olds who are pregnant, I feel bad, because I know they will face challenges,” Eveylene says. She has taken WAP’s call for girls to be ambassadors for change in their own communities to heart and says that she now talks to her friends about the dangers associated with early marriage. “We need to be educated as girls. We need to know that early child marriage causes poverty because of a lack of education.” Eveylene also has a strong vision for her own future, “I’ll only get married when I have completed university and I have worked. I want to be independent first.”