Adolescent Girls and Young Women with disabilities face systemic marginalization, attitudinal and environmental barriers that lead to lower economic and social status, increased risk of violence and abuse, discrimination as well as barriers to access education and health care, thus increasing their vulnerability and risk to HIV infection. The DREAMS – RISE Program, with support from PEPFAR through USAID, is working to reduce new HIV infection amongst AGYW by disrupting the HIV causal pathway through tracking the key drivers of HIV and increasing access to needs-based SRHR services to AGYW
Getrude Mushonga a 16-year-old AGYW from Senga Nehosho area in Gweru urban living with intellectual disability dropped out of school in grade 2. With little exposure to formal education, she was determined to change her life for the better after enrolling into the DREAMS program. Looking into her life, she had grown up in the guardianship of her aging grandmother as she was abandoned by her mother at an early age. At the age of 13, Getrude was sexually abuse twice, and got exposed to HIV. In the year 2022, Getrude was introduced and enrolled into the DREAMS RISE program. It is through the DREAMS sessions that she started to perceive life in a positive way. “I never thought I can restore my confidence and feel proud of myself in life after all that had happened to me.” Narrated Getrude in tears. Getrude’s life transformation is evidence of hope restoration and a systematic push to achieving greater.
Getrude is now a member of a Social Asset Building Club (SABC) and a participating member of an Internal Savings and Lending Scheme (ISAL) group. With all the support she’s receiving, Getrude intends to go back to school to further her studies and pursue her dreams. To date, Getrude’s life transformation through the DREAMS RISE program is commendable by members of the community. “I am happy that Getrude Mushonga is getting assistance through the DREAMS Program. The child has suffered a lot in life and has been very vulnerable. The coming in of DREAMS has changed her life and she is now someone we look forward to seeing flourishing.” Getrude’s neighbor explained with gratitude.
The DREAMS core package of services comprises evidence-based approaches that go beyond the health sector, to address the structural drivers that directly and indirectly increase girls’ HIV risk, including poverty, gender inequality, sexual violence, and a lack of education. Getrude is one of the thousands of AGYW whose lives have been transformed through the DREAMS RISE program. Zimbabwe Health Interventions, with support from PEPFAR through USAID, continues to strengthen capacity of families and communities to provide a safe and supportive environment for AGYW.