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In Zimbabwe Without Other Options, Girls Turn to Prostitution and Risk HIV

With no other options after the father of her children abandoned her, Lisa turned to prostitution to feed her family. 

Hers is a heartbreaking story, though not an unusual one amongst girls in Gweru, Zimbabwe. In fact, it is a story that is all too common.

In Gweru, a place of poverty, an adolescent girl can easily be forced into the world of prostitution to support herself and her family. Given that unprotected sex is still a common practice in the city, that can lead to HIV infection.

To hear Lisa's story is to witness how these girls, left with no option and no hope, are broken before they even have a chance.

But that is not the Lisa we know today. To know Lisa now is to see how much strength and optimism a young woman can have given just a little opportunity.

Lisa’s story is one of survival. She is now one of many girls empowered by Youth Advocates of Zimbabwe (YAZ), an organization that is reaching out and bringing important heath, social, and educational services to at-risk girls like Lisa.

It was by chance that Lisa met a representative from YAZ and learned about the program that would put her in school for vocational training and, more importantly, provide her with a monthly stipend of $50 — enough to put food on the table.

We met Lisa as we were learning about the partnership Johnson & Johnson is undertaking with YAZ to scale this critical program to reach even more adolescent girls across the country of Zimbabwe.  

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