Follow-up from ‘Life in the area…’ plus Zimbabwe in lockdown

Thanks to Mr Chifaka, Head of Pakati Secondary school, for the additional pictures. They show the new security bars around the school staffroom which doubles as a computer room, as mentioned in the most recent post

All work was completed before lockdown on 30th March

Also, as I mentioned, some of the teachers have chosen to stay at school. If I had been in Zimbabwe I think I would prefer to be at Pakati rather than in the city. Here is one of them, who is remaining there with her family.

Mrs Munatswa, teacher at Pakati Secondary school

Around Zimbabwe people are now in lockdown…thanks to Councillor Maliki and members of the Ward 14 Murewa whats app group for the following pictures.

Jakobo township, business centre for Ward 14, with the Councillors motorbike in the foreground

Harare is usually a vibrant, bustling city. Not at the moment though…

Coming soon…. I will select some of the older posts to update and re-blog, along with any other new stories I receive from my sources wherever they are. Thanks to all contributors for your help – please keep news and pictures coming whenever you can!

Stay safe everyone please👍

Life in the area still goes on…at a slower pace

Schools across Zimbabwe closed by 9am this Tuesday under Government orders, with many teachers leaving by 10am. We don’t know when schools will re-open or what will happen when they do.

Pakati Primary school students being dismissed this week

In the rural area I am familiar with, it seems strange to see the schools so empty, even though it happens every term. The uncertainty around the date of return seems to make it feel very different this time.

Pakati Secondary school after the closure

Mapanga Primary school, based in the same Ward 14 of Murewa District as Pakati, is also looking strangely quiet…

Mapanga Primary school similarly deserted

Many schools have had to cancel forthcoming events, Mapanga among them.

Students at Mapanga rehearsing for the now-cancelled event on 28th March

I understand from Vatonatsa Foundation they will run the event at the first opportunity once schools return.

The various school Heads have told me about what goes on during such times. In many cases, some staff will chose to remain – see – and there will also be guards patrolling to keep an eye on the school premises.

Head of Pakati Secondary school relaxing at his home there with his two sons

Mapanga has had to delay some building work, Mrs Maenzanise tell us “We intend to do the concrete slab as soon as we open schools. Builders cannot continue during this time as there is no-one to account for the cement” Pictures below show the current unfinished buìlding.

However, it seems there is an opportunity to do some work on the school buildings at Pakati. One prority for Pakati has been additional security for the Admin block, where the current staffroom doubles as a computer room. Mr Chifaka has been able to get local workmen to start putting new burglar bars around the block, which should be complete within a week.

Here is what they should look like on completion, all around the staff/computer ròom in the Admin block.

The first of several windows being made more secure

The schools now closed will, I am sure, be very keen to get started again but only as soon as it is safe to do so.

It is clear that although things are going to be quiet over the coming weeks and months, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be any progress. I will report on any news as I get it from the schools, and on any other goings on from the community themselves.

Take care everyone, stay safe.

Schools closed today…Pakati now deserted

My thanks to Mr Mahachi (Primary Head) and Mr Magabaza (Secondary Teacher) for the pictures and information provided below, and Vari Marez of Vatonatsa Foundation for the President’s statement

Deserted classroom blocks seen this afternoon

“The lessons went as usual up to yesterday. This term we could not manage to have learners write end of term tests as we were given short notice regarding closing of schools for the term. So on the closing day (today) no reports were given to learners.

Pakati Secondary school Admin Block

We carried out a general cleaning of the school on the closing day, before the Head Mr Chifaka made some announcements at assembly. We dismissed learners early at around 9am, as we had been instructed by the DSI in light of the President’s announcement yesterday, that no more gatherings of more than 50 people are allowed anymore to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 disease.”

Both Pakati schools closed earlier today, and assemblies held before students were dismissed.

Mr Mahachi, Head of Pakati Primary school, addressing his young learners before sending them home for a longer holiday than usual

These are uncertain times for teachers. Some have gone to their home areas, some are staying at school for now with their families.

One of the teachers houses at Pakati Secondary school

Those staying have as I understand it, their own vegetable plots & can grow a lot of their food. Some have chickens for meat and for eggs. There is some uncertainty about teachers salaries though, as they are waiting to hear about it.

Teachers accommodation at Pakati Secondary school

One teacher had this to say today: “I think it is ideal for everyone, both learners and teachers, since this safeguards their welfare and it minimises the spreading of the virus, at the same time teachers will have extended holiday!”

Textile and Design block now lying idle

Of course we have no idea how long the closure will last, but in several countries, lockdowns are starting as 2-3 weeks to begin with then extending. Others are going for 12 weeks before reviewing the situation. It is perhaps likely that the whole of the next term (winter – in the Souhern Hemisphere) will be lost.

School Science/Laboratory block…not a student in sight

More to come as I hear from the teachers themselves and other community members!

Friends of Pakati…looking ahead

The Author at Pakati Secondary school, September 2018

I have a few things to discuss on here, so bear with me please, this may be quite a long one…

This website/blog came about following my return to Pakati after an absence of some 27 years, in September 2018. I saw some changes and developments, and saw some things were as before. Mr Mugove Chifaka, current Head of Pakati Secondary school was instrumental in the setting up of the project to bring IT to both Pakati schools, and we have consulted regularly ever since. I also often chat to several teachers there, plus the Head of the Primary school, Mr Mahachi, and a number of his staff. They have provided me with a lot of material which has helped me show the need for assistance, and guided me through local customs and protocols. I started out with a simple goal of getting some computers to Pakati, but the vision has widened this year – see

Donated computers – the purpose of this project originally – being set up at Pakati in September 2019

I continue to try and raise funds for the project – see although larger events I was relying on have been at least postponed to some unknown future date. I have therefore adapted one – ‘Get TIED UP for Pakati’ – to an online event which can gather funds slowly if necessary, but can go quicker with a relaunch when some sort of normality returns…the second one involving my fellow former VSO teacher Debbie Chadbon, is waiting for a suitable opportunity to come up for her to run 10km on our behalf. Fingers crossed!🤞Other planned smaller events are postponed for now.

We cannot predict the future with any certainty right now, but I believe the coming months will see a gradual return and recovery from the current situation globally, which will enable Friends of Pakati to re-emerge, and will see our efforts rewarded once we relaunch our cause. There is genuine support for Friends of Pakati both here in the UK, and among people with close links to Pakati past and present, wherever they may be.

The Author with Mr Chifaka, past and present Heads of Pakati Secondary school
in September 2019

The reality is that this will slow us down, for some months, maybe longer. Who knows? At present, therefore, I am only making tentative plans. Here is where things stand right now:

The blog – this will continue for the forseeable future, though it is likely to become a weekly event rather than the almost daily posts I am currently doing. As I need some help to keep it going, I intend to gather new stories from other former students and staff of both Pakati schools, and will re-blog some of the older stories occasionally, sometimes with relevant updates. I want to invite all readers to have their say on here – please can you message me on any of these contacts if you have a story to tell, an article to publish, a question to ask, a suggestion to make, or any comments good or bad : or or by email or even here on using the comments section. I look forward to many more contributions, wherever you are, whatever your connection to us as a donor, a supporter, a sponsor, a follower, a reader, a contributor, or just a good friend of Pakati.

The fundraising – although it will necessarily slow down, you can be sure I will be trying to find ways of getting more donations for the project once things pick up again. I am encouraged by the fact that occasional donations are still coming in, so that eventually I hope to be able to meet our priorities, even if it carries on into 2021.

The visit – my next visit was planned for September 2020, but I have to be realistic and say that is unlikely to happen this year. Plan B is to visit late January/early February 2021, although it could easily be later, maybe April/May. We dont know. I do know that once it becomes clearer, I will fix a date to come to Pakati, and hope to see as many of you as I can.

The end of my visit to Zimbabwe in September 2018

The future – following a number of conversations with several people, I am seriously looking at some sort of collaboration with locally based organisations and others interested in small-scale development in the area, widening to more of Ward 14 of Murewa District. There is also a suggestion I apply to have Friends of Pakati recognised in Zimbabwe as either a Trust, or a PVO (Private Voluntary Organisation), I am considering this too. It may be that some sort of umbrella organisation is set up, perhaps just a website, which will include Friends of Pakati and others, with funds raised being shared to benefit the Ward. This is pure speculation at present, but if any of you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to contact us on those contacts mentioned above.

The schools – I hope very much the two Pakati schools emerge from this situation with little or no long term effects, and that I can continue to support them for some time to come. I will remain in touch with both schools, and as many of you – supporters of Friends of Pakati in your own ways – as I can, through the various channels available in order to keep people updated.

Take care of yourselves, look after your families and communities, do what you need to do to keep from getting the virus, stay in touch, stay safe.

Before schools close…

As confirmed in the blog just recently posted, I was told late yesterday that schools across Zimbabwe are due to close early, on Tuesday 24th March 2020, until further notice.

However, things were still happening at many schools before that time – see the pictures and information provided today by Mr Mahachi, Head of Pakati Primary school.

The Primary school has been holding lessons as normal, and holding impromptu staff meetings too.

IT lessons covering basic, introductory instructions have been given to some of the younger learners today.

I dont know for sure if it is due to lack of equipment, but the young learners sitting outside are writing in the sand in the school yard.

Pakati schools will close on Tuesday, but I intend to keep the blog going and the fundraising going too, using stories old and new, guest contributors, discussions on possible future project collaborations, and reminding readers of why this project is important. Schools being closed for now does not mean they dont need the things we would like to provide. They will need our support in place before they re-open, and long afterwards too.

Covid-19: Zimbabwe schools to close early

Please read below the announcement yesterday by the Government of Zimbabwe:


Following concerns from parents, as well representations by the educational sector, Government has decided that all schools and tertiary institutions (colleges, polytechnics and universities) will now close on Tuesday, 24 March, 2020, as a precaution against the outbreak and spread of Coronavirus.

While Zimbabwe has not recorded any cases of the virus to date, Government has
thought it prudent to err on the side of caution, more so in respect of teaching
institutions where human concentration and contact is expectedly high.

The decision is part of the general precautionary measures the country is taking in light of the worldwide outbreak and rapid spread of the Coronavirus.

As I announced on Tuesday, 17h March, 2020, Government will advise on dates for the reopening of all teaching institutions in the country once the threat of the virus is adjudged to have receded.

The date of 24th March should allow for an orderly closure of our institutions,
and for parents to arrange for the safe travel of pupils and students.

Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.
President of Zimbabwe.

There is another blog to follow this one very soon..

How are schools in Zimbabwe coping with Covid-19?

As yet, schools in Zimbabwe are still open until 2nd April, when it is due to close for end of term break up to 5th May.

Head of Mapanga Primary, Mrs Maenzanise welcomes students on a cloudy day

I wrote yesterday about schools in and around Pakati area (see for details), and I have received some pics & short videos from Mrs Maenzanise, Head of Mapanga Primaey school in Murewa Ward 14, showing how they are dealing with their young students in these difficult times.

Teachers at Mapanga are helping their young learners washing their hands, some being assigned to get water from the borehole.

Mapanga students are using whatever items can be found to be used as water containers.

Young learners at Mapanga being greeted by their teacher

Such activities are happening in schools across the country in order to try and prevent the transmission of the virus.