The Birth of SHE – Jaya’s story

When Jaya’s parents sadly passed away, she moved from grandparents to aunties and uncles, seeking the basic needs, until she had no options left. No one could afford to support her. Jaya was 13 years old at the time and she thought that her only option was to move away and become a maid in a large Zimbabwean institution. By doing this, it would enable Jaya to provide food and shelter for herself however, it could also expose her to the risk of exploitation, as well as physical and sexual abuse. Nonetheless, Jaya was set on doing this.

Before leaving to start the next chapter of her life, Jaya visited the farm of our CEO’s mother-in-law to say goodbye and thank her for the kindness that she had shown whilst looking after her. Mayda, (CEO of the Catalyst Foundation) coincidentally was there at the time.

“I looked at this 13 year old girl, alone in a field, with her bag packed, ready to leave for a danger- ous place. I thought – no! I asked her if I could help in any way.” – Mayda Mapondera (CEO of Catalyst Foundation).

Jaya mentioned that she really wanted to contin- ue school so in response to that, Mayda found Jaya a place to live, supported her financially and took care of all her expenses for school, health care and her general well-being.

Mayda soon became an aunty to Jaya – although Jaya now calls her mum.

Fast forward to today; Jaya is 23 years old now and lives with an older woman in her village. She sat her A levels last year and is eagerly awaiting her results. Jaya now has her heart set on studying Information Systems at university and sees herself accomplishing many great things in the future.

The dream of supporting many more girls like Jaya was ignited and led to the birth of SHE – Part of the Catalyst Foundation.


Barriers faced by girls in Zimbabwe include:

Lack of finance for basic needs such as food, sanitary ware, clothing, school fees, school uniforms, textbooks, health checks,  legal registration, along with many more.

SHE girls tell us that these are just some of the barriers preventing them from fully accessing their education.

SHE is working collaboratively with incredible Zimbabwean girls and their families, teachers and local social services, in rural communities to understand these barriers. What causes them, how they can be overcome, and, what role SHE can play in co-creating sustainable change; to ensure the girls’ access to education is consistent, now and in the future.

Currently, SHE is fully supporting 25 girls in Tsholosho across four schools and 15 girls in Beatrice across six schools. We aim to support more and more girls in the future and that is where we need your help!