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Betty Makoni - Inspirational & Motivational Stories

Betty Makoni - Girl Child Network

When at the young age of six years, Betty Makoni was unfortunate to go thru every girl's nightmare: Being raped. The problem lies in the mindset in her home town in Zimbabwe. Many young girls are victims of a widely accepted belief that if a man with HIV or AIDS rapes a virgin he will be cured of his disease. Perpetuated by Zimbabwe's traditional healers, this so called virgin myth has not only led to the destruction of lives but also a never ending state of fear according to UNICEF. To make matters worse, many of these perpetrators are family members, teachers and even officials. Betty had to go thru more torture as her mother was killed by her father. "I told myself no girl or woman will suffer the same again." Betty said to herself at that very moment.

Thus in 1998, Betty, a young teacher along with 10 high school girls formed a club in their school to fight against sexual abuse in Zimbabwe. They called it the Girl Child Network (GCN) of Zimbabwe. The organization is made up of a number of girls and women, who battle those who abuse them, take advantage of them and hurt them physically and psychologically. The initiative has gained tremendous steam over the years as they have rescued nearly 35,000 girls from abuse, given them protection and a place to recover. Though the larger purpose to Betty’s mind is to provide these youngsters a chance for a better future. The organization has enabled girls to break their silence, share their stories and help one another move on to a brighter life beyond the shame and torture.

The response received by the Girl Child Network was over-whelming indeed. Teachers, girls and even schools have been contacting her for help. The response was so strong that Betty resigned from her job to devote all of her attention to the programme instead. Along with the girls, they would walk around mainly in rural areas of Zimbabwe and listen to the horrifying tales girls would share with them. Sheer determination brought about a bus campaign which would rescue them and bring them back to their headquarters. It was around this time that court proceedings against the accused had started and rapists being jailed. However, Betty soon saw that the numbers of girls were increasing quickly; she didn't know how to go about it. Her savior came in the form of aid and funds from the Global Fund for Women and Firelight Foundation. The monetary aid helped her to create the first girls empowerment village in Rusape, eastern Zimbabwe. Accommodating nearly 70 girls, this facility provides them the shelter and support to address the spiritual, emotional, social, political and economic realities of life. It also includes a number of mentors, education as well as advocacy for the girls in their communities. Later on, her human rights work expanded into several Girls Empowerment Clubs and Girls Empowerment Villages across Zimbabwe as well as England after she and her family were forced to move there because of political enemies she made due to her work.

Makoni's dream has come true. She wanted to see a day when she would stand up for girls around the globe and say, 'it is happening and it must stop happening.' Her greater purpose thru her work is to hear every girl child say 'Mrs. Makoni, I am fine today because of you.'

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