Today I am getting more help from my youngest son Daniel. He is trying out each individual machine, linking to our home internet, and adding free internt security plus a Microsoft-compatible set of free office software.
Testing every cable, mouse, monitior and keyboard.
Dan is hard at work on the Pakati IT equipment
Using some of the funds raised, I have been to local PC and laptop repair shops to search out suitable items to add to the collection. I found another PC at a decent price, plus a laptop too.
I have a neighbour who is also willing to donate a laptop which I hope to pick up tomorrow, and he may have 2 more by this weekend when I intend to take everything to the shipping company.
We will take a look at the laptops before definitely adding them to the list of goods.
I had stayed at my Dad’s place in Scunthorpe Friday night, where I had stored the IT equipment for safe keeping as he had room to spare. Saturday – yesterday – I loaded it all up into the back of my car, ready to bring it home after the football match.
Before the game, I was hoping to meet the club chairman of Scunthorpe United, Mr Peter Swann, to discuss and receive his promised donation. Current fundraising total sits at £1380.00 after another donation yesterday.
Unfortunately, circumcstances meant he was called away at short notice, so wasn’t able to do the presentation yesterday. This is being re-arranged, hopefully for Saturday 31st August.
Having got home in the evening, I unloaded everything from the car and took it to the back room, cleared out to have the goods safely stored.
With help from my son Daniel, we have started to check out every item. Every PC, every keyboard, every mouse, every monitor, every cable and the webcam. I have used some of the funds raised to buy other important cables, and plan to get other accessories as required, such as mouse mats and routers.
I am using our home internet to add useful software, like free internet security and free (Microsoft-compatible) office programmes. Will be looking at other items I might buy if needed too. I will install the same things on each PC, and will be discussing various related issues with the schools concerned, such as power supply, physical safety and computer security, internet access, teacher development and lesson planning for various levels of learners abilities.
Very soon I will be taking all of this equipment, plus the sports kits donated, to the shipping company to box up, then get them all flown out to arrive In Zimbabwe around the same time as I do in late September. The plan is to bring it all to Pakati & have various important guests to witness these imoortant developments for the two schools. I intend to stay at the school for a few days to help in setting things up, plus talking to staff, students, guests and the community. I will produce a full report after my trip but intend to post blogs whenever I am able to.
Following recent discussions, it appears there are still several football shirts to be sold for friendsofpakati.com so more money will be added to the total. The donation by the Chairman of Scunthorpe United, Peter Swann, is due to be made this coming sarurday. The shirts already donated by the club are smaller in size so will go to the primary school.
Any additional funds which come in will be spent on the schools in some way. That raised will be spent on shipping & transport within the UK and Zimbabwe, and additional items as deemed necessary by the schools.
At the school the intention is to have some kind of formal presentation of the goods with local dignatories such as the MP for Murewa, the local councillor for the ward as well as staff from both schools & invited guests/supporters.
I am currently getting the shipping and transport arranged. I intend to deliver the goods to the shippers in the next few weeks to arrive into Zimbabwe around the same time as I do.
As the donation of 7 PCs did not all have monitors/screens I have been sourcing others, and will have enough by the time we do the shipping. Looking at other possible donations or second hand items to add into the delivery.
School looks a little deserted right now….as it is the end of the winter term. All students have gone home to return on 9th September.
During the break the teachers usually have a rota for staying at the school over the holidays, for a mixture of reasons: one being security, the other particularly relevant – additional lessons specifically for the students sitting exams next term – Form 2 for ZJC (Zimbabwe Junior Certificate) and Form 4 for GCSE/O Levels.
I can remember enjoying that time at the school, very quiet and relaxed, with students attending by choice and keen to benefit from extra revision. We covered topics which the students chose, ones they struggled with. We covered past papers too, helping with exam techniques. The informal atmosphere made it a pleasure to be doing something to help them.
Also offers a chance to have a look around the area…
I have just this evening seen an email from my home town football club and supporter of this project, Scunthorpe United….
Next Saturday, shortly before kick-off of the game between us -the Iron – and Crawley Town, the Chairman Mr Peter Swann is going to make a superb donation to friendsofpakati.com living up to the promise he made in April, after several of us walked from Bradford to Scunthorpe (around 57 miles/75km), to match whatever we had raised. I expect it to be around £1400 – 1500 by next saturday. Full story and pictures soon afterwards!
Well, there have been some responses to the previous blog post…
I have consulted with people in Zimbabwe both closely related to the project and removed from it, with a mixture of views. Some think widening it to include more schools across the district is a good idea. On the other hand some feel it would be best to stick to the original plan.
Here in the UK the discussions have tended to be more one-sided, and largely against any change to the project. The feeling generally here is that the strength is in the personal connection between Pakati Schools and myself. Including potentially many more schools would weaken the appeal and dilute the original idea of helping Pakati.
Once I have discussed all the ideas in detail with all interested parties I will announce where the future of the project lies, and why the decision is made.
Today before Sunthorpe United’s first home game of the 2019/20 season, fans forum and podcast presenters collectively known as Iron Bru, recorded a podcast in a local bar called The Honest Lawyer. They very kindly invited me to speak at the beginning of todays podcast recording on behalf of this project. This was the second time for them to ask me to be a guest on their show and they have been very supportive, as have many individual fans, and staff at the club, as well as the chairman, Peter Swann. I am very grateful to all for that support.
In addition, Iron Trust another supporters group also held a raffle in support of friendsofpakati.com at the event, with 5 prizes of various memorabilia items going to the winning tickets. Thanks to John for organising it. Good to see the shirt collecter and trader Simon present who tells me there is more money coming to http://gofundme.com/friends-of-pakati very soon, boosting the total before chairman Mr Swann lives up go his promise of doubling what we raise. Hoping to have this organised for two weeks time at our next home game.
FUTURE DEVELOPMENT FOR THE PROJECT
This is not formally agreed as yet, but discussions are currently taking place between myself, the Head of Pakati Secondary school, the local councillor for the ward, the MP for the district and other community members involved in/supporting the project. I will also consult donors and supporters here in the UK
The suggestion has been made that the project becomes about more than just Pakati schools. There are a number of similar schools in the district of Murewa, all with similar needs. They are the lowest funded schools in Zimbabwe, kept afloat by largely subsistence farming communties whose income is not stable, but fluctuates with the weather and subsequent harvests each season/year.
These schools, like Pakati, provide as good an education as they can, but often lack basic equipment, teachers frequently farm themselves as pay can be intermittent or low, and students, no matter how keen, cannot get the exam results their hard work deserves without proper facilities. As the curriculum becomes more IT-based, Pakati and schools like it are in danger of being left behind, creating further disadvantage to already struggling communities.
Once the funds raised here up to now have been spent and goods delivered to Pakati schools, then the idea is that this project will support more of these schools in Murewa district, with the backing of the local politicians, as they can help organising things like clearing customs and delivering items to the schools. It maybe that we set up whole new online/social media/fundraising presences, or use these current ones under the same banner, but with a clear statement about any funds/donations raised will be spread among more than just Pakati schools. We would continue to use Pakati as an exemplar school due to my personal connections, continuing to demostrate how life is for all concerned in these and similar schools.
My thoughts also include an idea to allow donors to say whether they want those donations to just go to Pakati or are happy for them to be shared across the district, then keep the two funds/donations separate.