Well….Next Saturday, 7th August, I will be going to an event on the outskirts of London, where I am representing and promoting Friends of Pakati.
The event is called ‘Appreciating Positive Change Makers’, and I have been invited to speak briefly about Friends of Pakati. I hope to raise our profile, and also hope to raise some funds for us.
How did we come to be invited? Well, it’s all about connections….First, I have a connection to a lady called Magdalene Lafontant. She owns the business called Nakai Skin Care – one of our sponsors – see here https://www.nakaiskincarecosmetics.com
Maggie knows the next connection – Auntiey Mimiey, who invited me onto her live facebook event a few weeks ago to talk about Friends of Pakati.
With the event now imminent, I have been busy getting merchandise ready to sell, and also organised the new banner in the photo at the top of this post. The newest merchandise for Friends of Pakati I can now reveal – is T-shirts!
Here is what they look like! This one below is 2XL size, the largest of the 5 sizes available. On sale now for £15 + p&p. We will have some to sell at the event, as well as some of our mugs, coasters, key rings and badges.
The 2XL fits the author well…..
If you would like to order, please email email@example.com with your name, contact phone number & full postal address. Sizes available are S, M, L, XL & 2XL. Also looking at Polo shirts if there is demand for them.
Wow. It is just amazing how things are a bit quiet for a while, then Bang! One thing leads to another….First, I hear from a man called John Tsinya, living here in the UK. I taught two of his siblings, and I hope to tell both of their stories soon. Next, I find he has passed a photo from our Instagram page (@friendsofpakati) of one of my former students, on to her sister who also lives in the UK – and I taught her too! This then, is the first of at least four new profiles being published.
It is therefore literally just in these last few days that I have been re-united with Epiphania Chiroodza online, only to discover she has been living, studying and working here in the UK for the last 19 years! So this is the story of how she came from Pakati to London…
Epiphania in a recent photo near where she now lives, on the outskirts of London, UK
I am absolutely delighted to introduce Epiphania, someone I remember from my first days at Pakati Secondary school, not least because she was in my first Form 4 (O level/GCSE) Maths class in 1989. I remember her as a bright, inquisitive girl, and someone who was easy to speak with. She was not as shy to talk in class as some were, having a good measure of self confidence about her…this is what she has told me recently…
“I did my primary school grade 1-6 in Harare, at Rukudzo Primary school in Kambuzuma, where I lived with my family. My father took early retirement, and I then spent five years living in Chiremba village with my parents and siblings. My parents were then peasant farmers.
As a result, I attended Pakati Primary school in 1985 where I completed my grade 7, then I attended Form 1 to Form 4 at Pakati Secondary school until the end of 1989. That was the year Mr Walker had joined the staff at Pakati Sec.
The school was totally different, as I was coming from the city to a rural area. It was also an environment shock! The distance I used to walk going to school to Pakati it was ten times more than in the city. I had to learn to adjust and adapt to the new environment I was living in. I did enjoy growing up there though, and had lots of cousins and relatives around. I have learnt the hard ways of life, and this has built resilience in me. Any challenges and situations right now I can confront them with no fear.
Staying in the countryside has made me a stronger person, and I learned to appreciate what I have. I left for the city after my O-level, and worked for a couple of years. I also had a family, with 2 children. I then left Zimbabwe in September 2002 when I had an opportunity that came my way to come to England.
I grabbed that opportunity straightaway.
Epiphania by the River Thames
In England life was not that easy, with culture shock it meant once again learning to adjust. Weather wise – British weather was another issue – when it’s cold it’s very cold, snowing and raining. Everything in England is very fast, and you have to learn to adapt quickly. There were times I felt home sick and missing my mum’s cooking and my siblings…and the Zimbabwean weather!
Fortunately, I found work in the health and social care sector, and I later went to college. I gained a Diploma in Health and Social Care, which then led me to further my education. I went to London South Bank University and studied BSC (Hons) in Mental Health Nursing. I am currently working as a Registered Mental Health Nurse in a psychiatric hospital (NHS) in London.
Therefore, I say never stop dreaming because one day your dream will come true, and always follow your dreams. The sky is the limit. I never knew, when I was at Pakati, that I will end up here in the UK, but fate took me here, and I have achieved a lot in my life which for which I am very grateful”.
Epiphania on a recent visit to Edinburgh
It has been a real pleasure for me, chatting to Epi for the first time in over 30 years! It has taken us back down memory lane, and there is much more to come I am sure…one of those things to come is the profile of her younger sister, Juliana, who I also taught. It was her photo on Instagram that was the catalyst for me being in touch with so many others from Pakati… this picture below, of Juliana competing in high jump, which had been taken by, and sent to me, by Debbie Chadbon.
Juliana Chiroodza, competing at St Pauls Mission Sports Stadium, Musami, in 1992
My thanks go to John Tsinya for getting the ball rolling, and to Epiphania for reminding me of good times…
I have just heard from Stuart Pine, IT Manager at The Stephenson Group Ltd of Horsforth, Leeds – our principal donors of computers – about what they now have available for us
I had just completed an interview with my local newspaper here in Bradford – the Telegraph & Argus – about my recent heart problems. They gave me an opportunity to talk about Friends of Pakati, and we will get some great publicity from it very soon.
Stuart with the Author, donating the first set of IT to Friends of Pakati in 2019 at the premises of the Stephenson Group
Soon after the interview I heard from Stuart. Here is the message he sent me: “Just for Info Chris, I have 18 computers of varying sizes for the schools but all good enough to run Windows 10 and some form of Office software, a few more than I originally thought.”
First time for the IT equipment at Pakati to be used from The Stephenson Group’s donation in 2019
A little later on I took a phone call from Stuart. He was able to give me a bit more information about things, including the fact that he thought it may as many as 20 computers available quite soon. He is going to send some photos of them next week, along with the short piece to camera we need to complete our second video, so all of that will be out soon!
For us here at Friends of Pakati, this is fantastic news – it is really what we are all about – getting computers to both Pakati schools!! Also this will give us a real lift, an impetus to raise more funds to help ship them out to Pakati schools. The forthcoming publicity I mentioned, coupled with the event I am due to attend on 7th August – see https://friendsofpakati.com/2021/06/16/appreciating-positive-change-makers/ for more details, although the original date & venue was moved. It is now on 07/08/21 at the Brooklands Hotel.
We have some new material to post soon, and a number of new stories promised. We have some new publicity on the way. We have new merchandise being produced. We have an event to attend to spread the word. Briefly, therefore, below is a summary of what is coming up in the next few weeks:
▪︎Firstly, I have heard from a sibling of one of my former students, Hatipedzi Tsinya (pictured below), whose brother John is currently living in the UK. I am waiting for the chance to tell her story, and that of her family. I taught her & her brother Lawrence, and was Acting Head for their younger sister Dadirai, who was in Form 1 in 1991.
▪︎I am absolutely assured that our second video will be completed very soon & released/published soon after
▪︎Just this last few days I have done a wide-ranging interview with a journalist from the local newspaper from my home town of Scunthorpe. We discussed my health scare, my support for Scunthorpe United, and of course, Friends of Pakati. Likely to be published in next week’s Scunthorpe Telegraph.
▪︎New merchandise has been ordered through a new provider, and we are adding t-shirts to our range. More badges have also been ordered.
▪︎Lastly, there is the event I hope to attend on 7th August at Brooklands Hotel, not far from Heathrow Airport. I will be giving a brief speech about who we are & what help we need. Hoping to be well enough by then to attend, even if its not the full event. Dr MamboKadzi Tsitsi, organiser, said this:
“I figure, if you want to be who you want to be, you should go ahead and be one. We need people who are so strong they can be gentle, so educated they can be humble, so fierce they can be…As a positive change maker – I have no country, I want no country. As a humanitarian/positive change maker my country is the whole world, I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my Humanity. And I want to be respected in all of it. See you Brooklands Hotel & Spa WOPI – Appreciating Positive Change Makers 7 August 21 http://www.womenofpurpose.me.uk/tickets ”
I am sure there will be a lot of things to say after this event! I will report in full on my return home.
Half way through this 3rd year I feel there is still much we can do to help Pakati schools, nit just in terms of our original aim of getting some computers to them. If you can help us, please do by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or donate to http://paypal.me/friendsofpakati Thank you!
I thought I would let people know about what has happened to me in recent days, and how it is likely to affect Friends of Pakati. This is also an expression of my gratitude to the NHS, the National Health Service here in the UK.
Well, here is the story….some of you may already be aware of it from my personal social media posts over the last week.
Saturday night, 3rd July. 10.30pm, after the England match against Ukraine. I went to bed, but started to feel pain in the centre of my chest, with discomfort as I lay down trying to sleep. Around 2am it hadn’t improved, but after a couple of paracetomol, managed a few hours sleep.
Sunday morning, 4th July. Woke up around 7am, still in pain. It went on, not horrendous pain, but constant, affected mostly with my heartbeat. I decided that at age 63, chest pain usually means one thing: heart problems. So I got up, tried to eat but could only manage a small amount of breakfast. I showered & dressed, & everything I did took time. I felt the pain throughout across the centre of my chest only, and around 9am walked slowly to the nearest taxi rank & went to our local hospital – Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI) – and entered the Accident & Emergency section. It took around 30-odd minutes to get seen at reception, then sat & waited to be called.
Thankfully not many others were there, so I was seen in Triage, and soon after I was called for an ECG to assessy heart briefly. Clearly it indicated a problem, & I was taken to the High Dependency Unit (HDU), where further tests suggested a serious problem. They contacted the hospital in Leeds 12 miles away where immediate relevant treatment was available. By 4.30pm I was in their Coronary Care Unit (CCU). A theatre was available, and after an Ultrasound scan showed one of my heart valves was not pumping properly, they explained it indicated a likely blockage in an artery.
This was confirmed during an Angiogram. This lead to a common procedure, done while I was awake. Only a local anasthetic needed, and the team told me what was going on throughout. They found 3 different blockages, over 2 arteries. It required a stent being placed in each one, then expanded to open up the arteries to allow blood to flow more normally again.
All was completed in around an hour or so. I was kept in the CCU overnight, then sent back to BRI for observation & monitoring on Monday 5th July. Gradually over those 2 days the monitiring & observations reduced as I moved away from danger. I was released on Wednesday, 7th July.
Home. On my birthday! In spite of the health scare of a heart attack, I felt pretty good to be honest. The pain & discomfort were gone, and apart from tiredness & plenty of new medication, things were mostly normal!
Of course nothing will be the same in reality. Diet, exercise, lifestyle will need to change for me. I can deal with that. Everything will be done to ensure the chances of a repeat are massively reduced.
So, my personal life is going to have to adapt. But, without the amazing NHS, it could have been a very different story…so I would like to repeat my thanjs the the NHS in general, and to the staff at both BRI & LGI who treated me with such care & professionalism a huge THANK YOU!!!!!👏👏👏👏
I believe – thankfully – that this should not affect Friends of Pakati at all, as there are several things already almost ready to publish. Also as I continue to recover in the coming weeks, I hope to be able to do all the things I have planned. Including the event on 7th August. I aim to be there, even if it is for a shorter tine than planned. Plesse keep supporting us!
Welcome back to the second entry in our new series, choosing a photo from the archives & explaining it in more detail. Here is the photo chosen this time:
This picture was taken in September 2018, not long before the end of a brief holiday in Zimbabwe. At the time this was taken, I hadn’t been back to the school – Pakati Secondary – since 1992.
I was about to revisit the school, and was feeling a bit nervous if I am honest, not knowing if I would be remembered at all, or welcomed…
Well, I should not have worried!
My friend and driver – Felix – accompanied me and took many of the photos shown on here from the afternoon we spent at Pakati. He made sure things went well, as I met the (still current) Head of Pakati Sec, Mr Mugove Chifaka – see the second picture above.
We spent some time in his office, and he said he had heard about me, but didn’t think I existed! He gradually brought in some if the staff to introduce me, and had some photos taken in the staffroom…
I was then shown around the school, accompanied by Mr Chifaka, Mrs Pindura (Deputy Head), Mr Chizena & Mrs Munatswa.
It was great to see the developmemts at the school since I had been there in 1989-91, with new buildings, curriculum changes, external decor, and more teachers accommodation. There was even a Car Park!
It was after the walk around the school that the duscussion I had with Mr Chifaka took place which lead to Friends of Pakati coming into being. I asked him what other developments would he like to see at the school, and he said one word – ‘computers’ – and that was all it took!
We discussed what it would mean for the school, and he instantly said we should include the Primary school too – thus Friends of Pakati was born👍, and it ultimately lead to the delivery of the first batch of IT equipment a year later.
I am so glad I revisited Pakati, and am now involved in some way once more. As we say…
Here I have an unusual profile, of someone who has become a friend of Friends of Pakati. He has done it almost by accident really…due to him following his particular passion. There came a time in 2019 where our interests overlapped, and we met. Since then, he has played a regular role in supporting our cause by raising funds….how? I hear you ask. Let Simon explain it himself, in the form of an interview I conducted with him recently…meet Simon Faulkner (pictured below with his family)!
Hi Simon! Welcome to Friends of Pakati, and thank you for agreeing to be featured here on the blog. Let me start by asking you about your interest & how it began please?
Hi Chris, no problem. You wanted to know something about my self and my love for football and football shirts! I fell in love with football at an early age, about 4. This photo is of me in my first football kit:
I am sure there is more to your story than that – please do go on!
There is, much more! I met my best mate Mark Lucas when I was 4, and he instantly had me hooked on the game. We would spend hours playing it, and talking about it! I went right through school with Mark up to College. Here we are together in our teams shirts:
Mark & Simon
Already you can see by this time I had grown an interest in football shirts, something of an obsession to this day! Let me explain if I can…
Around about this time I was a regular at Scunthorpe United, and became interested in match worn shirts. I got my first one from an ex-player’s wife, and I have carried on collecting ever since.
My favourite shirt is definitely my 1984 Umbro away shirt (rare as they come) – see the Green & Yellow shirt in the photo above.
Sadly mark passed away a few years ago, I carried on with my interest and have now over 200 Scunthorpe match worn shirts. I drive people mad with my stories of each particular shirt and spend hours looking for photos of them.
So Simon, how did you get involved with Friends of Pakati?
I saw a tweet where somebody had donated a shirt to you. I read up on the charity, and found it very humbling that you are trying to help out in this way.
Some of the shirts which were donated to friends of pakati in 2019 – Simon was instrumental in getting several hundred Pounds (£) for us by trading them.
I have since started getting more shirts and other memrobillia for Friends of Pakati to sell to raise funds. I think we even managed to get a very rare Wealdstone United shirt a couple of years ago. I intend to carry on collecting while raising money for Chris.
Signed photo of Premier League striker Billy Sharp, tajen during his hugely successful time at Scunthorpe United – recently sold to add to our funds!
My family have been long-suffering and sometimes unwitting partners in my obsession, but my kids are also fans of Scunthorpe United – the Iron as they are known.
Mollie & Freddie in their Iron tops!
Which is your favourite top from a player?
This one! ⬇️
Ex-Scunthorpe United player Julian Broddle with his shirt which he wore v Tottenham Hotspur
Many thanks to Simon, for this blog, but especially for all the work he has done to raise much-needed funds of Friends of Pakati!👏👏👏👏
Both of us are keen Scunthorpe United fans, and we have both been lucky enough at different times to meet the most successful Iron manager (currently manager at Charlton Athletic FC), Nigel Adkins, a very friendly man who still has time for his former club – see the two pics below:
Simon, far left is next to Nigel Adkins & two of Simon’s friends.
The Author with Nigel Adkins at Glanford Park, before the Iron v Sheffield United who Nigel then managed.
• Look out for more stories, profiles, updates & pics/videos to come in the near future here at friendsofpakati.com !
Welcome to our review! Here is our look back at the 6 months up to the end of June 2021. We look at some of our most important and/or successful posts, as well as our progress financially. Also, we take a look at key developments at Friends of Pakati. We start, naturally, in January…
With a number of things bubbling up in the background, the next 6 months could really bring Friends of Pakati further new & interesting developments! Here is just one such example….Below is a clip from the promised short video about our getting computers to Pakati in 2019… full version out soon!
Welcome to our new feature! In this new series, I will take a photo from our archives, and try to tell much more of the story behind it. After this story today, I will also let you know about some new profiles being planned…as well as other items to come here at Friends of Pakati.
Just rrecently, I posted the following picture in our Instagram page – @friendsofpakati
Here is what I put: “Today’s random photo from friendsofpakati.com – the one legacy I am most proud of leaving for the community – still in use over 30 years later”
This is how it came about (if I remember rightly)…
After I had been at Pakati for a year, I came across some fellow VSO volunteers, who had a variety of small-scale development projects at their schools/placements. They were able to raise funds, mostly via either NGO’s or the network of Embassies & High Commissions.
What they were doing were things such as developing bee keeping, raising chickens for sale and as egg producers, but some were looking to develop Agruculture lessons by adding a water supply, and in some cases, fencing to protect the school crops.
I wanted to try & do something for my school, Pakati Secondary. So I talked to some of the other volunteers, and made notes of their successful applications for funds, and spoke to the Head, Mr Samakomva, who approved of the ideas.
We decided on a number of things, depending on the funds available to us, including 1) a new borehole, 2) a water tank, 3) piping & taps from the tank to near the school, and 4) fencing for a new dedicated Agriculture plot.
Putting up the fencing, including teacher Mr Tsuro in the hat & Head Mr Samakomva in the suit – 1991
The Biritish High Commission had funds they set aside for what they referred to as ‘Small Scale development’, and I applied successfully for enough to cover all 4 items we wanted. (Later that year I wrote a guide for volunteers wanting to raise funds, and gave a talk to the next group who came that August, including Debbie Chadbon who folloeed me at Pakati).
We got the DDF (District Development Fund) on board to help with the borehole, and they continue to maintain it to this day.
We had the High Commissioner visit the school to officially ‘open’ the project, and thank them for the donation of funds. We had ZTV present, and were very briefly on the ZBC News that day. We had of course students to entertain the guests with singing & a play or two.
It was a memorable day, attended by the local councillor at the time, Mr Chepaguta, along with the school staff, students and several family members from the villages too.
What happened since? Well the borehole had a hand pump as normal, plus we had a a two-way valve so we could either pump water through the piping to the tank or to the school where there was a tap for students & staff to get a drink from. The fencing then enclosed the Agricultire plot.
Sadly, we hadn’t taken into account the tenacity of goats….who managed to get under the lowest part of the fence & ate all the vegetables we had grown! Also, over time, the tank & piping ‘disappeared’ leaving just the borehole – but I am delighted this most important part of the project is still widely used by the community, not just the schools, to this day.
What to look forward to here at Friends of Pakati in the coming weeks…
I have at least 2 profiles of people of interest to the readers here – one from someone who helps us to raise money, one from someone new to us but part of a supporting organisation… others are still to commit to being on here
End of June – next weekend – will see our 6-month review. Find out what our highlights of the year so far have been!
The slightly delayed event at which I am due to speak, and hopefully spread the word of Friends of Pakati to around 200 people – and sell our merchandise too!
Potential new items for sale – we are looking at expanding our merchandise to other items, not least as our original is sadly no longer operating. It provides us wuth the chance to develop our rsnge of goods
We are looking at changes to what we sell, as sadly our supplier for mugs, coasters and key rings has ceased trading. Thankfully our badge supplier is still operating, and I already have my eye on two or three potential new suppliers for replacements & new items. There is enough time to have things ready for the event. Apparently there is likely to be 200 attendees…
A previous event of ‘Appreciating Change Makers’
Our vision continues to be as follows:
To advance the education of the pupils at Pakati Primary and Secondary schools in Ward 14, Murewa District, Zimbabwe, by providing and assisting in the provision of facilities for education at the schools named. This can be in the areas such as IT and auxiliary equipment, internet access, and any such educational, sporting, and practical materials as the schools may need.
Should funds permit, these facilities may be extended to the other schools in Ward 14, Murewa District, Zimbabwe, namely Chanetsa Primary and Secondary schools, plus Mapanga Primary school.
Should funds permit, the awarding to such persons as deemed necessary, identified through consultation with both Pakati Primary and Secondary schools, Ward 14, Murewa District, Zimbabwe, scholarships in the form of relevant school fees, uniforms, educational materials, and sports equipment as required by the schools named.
To assist in such ways as the charity trustees think fit any charity or similar organisation active in Ward 14, Murewa District, Zimbabwe, whose aims include advancing education of persons attending the 5 schools named above in sections 1 & 2.
September 2019 – first ever IT lesson at Pakati Primary school.
It is also good to receive positive feedback for what we are trying to do – below is a comment from a Philip Jnr G today:
Good work Sir, I appreciate your efforts towards developing our community
I thank you.
It is my sincere wish for us to continue our project for some time to come. Onwards and Upwards for Friends of Pakati👍