By Michael Gwarisa
The Youth Advocates of Zimbabwe’s (YAZ) helpline has made strides in reaching out to marginalised individuals who belong to different groups of society through their YAZ Helpline
In this age where technology is being used for various reasons, YAZ has seen it fit to engage individuals suffering from conditions.
Tatenda Songero, YAZ Executive Director said the, “The Helpline is an ICT drive (Calls, SMS, social media, mobile application) and community approach that aggregates information to increase the availability and use of data to meet the urgent and complex needs of the Zimbabwean populace on integrated HIV and other developmental services.”
He added that they they were making significant inroads in reaching to various societal groups but however highlighted that they were also facing a number of challenges in discharging their duties
“We can do SMS and social media interactions with anyone across the country. We are not restricted to any geographical location. It’s not that we are not there, its a question of resources that limit our capabilities.”
The system is designed that many can be helped without meeting any YAZ personnel in person, with everything done via the various communication tools at their disposal ans not face to face.
YAZ uses the Ureport software and some other software that is designed internally. The software can send about 1000 messages and because of the texting service, YAZ can reach out to some disabled people who cannot talk.
However, they still face a lot of problems with regards to funding and human resources, but on the technical side, sometimes they are faced with network issues as some remote areas with troubled youths do not have good network reception.
Considering that not all Zimbabweans have access to mobile phones, YAZ has some community ambassadors who have occasionally availed their phones to the youths so that they can contact the YAZ helpline and get the help they seek.
To anyone seeking help, just send a Call Me Back, Whatsapp or Text to 0777 469 107 Their offices are open from 8am to 6pm everyday and closed on weekends.