Pakati: Review of the Year – Part 4

Welcome to Part 4 of our review of 2019! What an eventful year it has been, leading up to the events described below. For me, the author, Chris Walker, a genuinely moving, humbling but also momentous few days at Pakati were capped by the formal handover of donated goods to both schools. Read on….

“Iron fan on Tour” Chris arrives on a cool day in Harare, Zimbabwe

I was met by my relative, Donna, where I stayed for my first night back in Zimbabwe. The computers, equipment and football shirts were delivered to Donna’s place a week or so before my arrival.

Goods all safely stored

Next day, my friend and host Bothwell arrived to collect me and the packages, to take us to Pakati.

Passing Ngomamowa means we are not too far away from Pakati

Arriving at school after a couple of hours driving, it was a real pleasure to meet my friend Mugove Chifaka, the Head of the Secondary school, again. He was instrumental in the setting up of the project, involving the Primary school, and making sure local protocols were followed correctly. Also I enjoyed meeting the staff again, and of course seeing the students too.

Mugove Chifaka & the Author unwrapping the donated goods – September 2019
The staff and I unwrapped the 7 crates of donated goods in he school sraffroom

We then set up a computer and a laptop to check if the goods had survived the journey undamaged.

Checking the equipment for damage – all arrived safely!

Next day, Friday 27th September, everything gradually came together for an utterley memorable day for me….the official presentation of the donated goods to Pakati schools. We had a number of important guests – including the following: local MP Honourable Jonah Sewera, CEO of Murewa Rural District Council Dr Gurajane, local councillor Alderman Israel Maliki for Ward 14, other councillors from nearby Wards, Local village Headmen, School Development Committee members from both schools, Heads and staff from both schools, and, of course, parents and students from both schools. We also had visitors from a local organiosation which supports under priveleged children, Vatonatsa Founddation, Vari and Holly. Below are just a few of the hundreds of photos taken at the event…a little taste of the day.

Councillor Maliki giving a welcome speech
MP Honourable Jonah Sewera and the author embrace as the other VIP guests look on, while donations are passed on to the schools representatives
Students displayed some of the sports kits donated with VIPs looking on
The Author surrounded by well-wishers…
Holly, Bothwell, Councillor Maliki, Chris, and Vari
Guests were given a hearty meal afterwards inside the staffroom

During the event, a number of students came forward to give short pieces of entertainment. Some poems were read out before and in between speeches. Here below are those poems:

Poems recited by learners from Pakati Secondary School in showing appreciation to Mr Christopher Walker for the computers that he donated to the school

Who am I?
By Belinda Machika form 1A
I am not a person but I can think
I am not a person but I can communicate
I am not a person but I can see
Who am I?
I am a computer

Without me life is difficult
Without me life is not sweet
Without me life is a misery
Who am I?
I am a computer

I can send messages
I can show videos
I can play audios
I can calculate equations
I can do many things
Who am I?
I am a computer

Takanga takasara
(We were lagging behind)
By Laverty Chiunya form 1A
Takanga takasara (we were lagging behind)
Takanga takasara chokwadi takanga takasara
(We were indeed lagging behind)
Takavata pachikoro pedu tisina chizvinozvino
(We were lacking modernity at our school)

Mazita Takanga tanzwa nawo ekunemerwa
(We were being given names)
Zvanzi vekumachonyonyo
(We were identified as people from remote areas)
Zvanzi veshure
(We were called backward people)
Zvanzi vakasara
(We were called primitive people)

Vadzidzisi vaiita man`a mumaoko nekunyora pachidziro nechoko
(Our teachers were developing cracks on their fingers as a result using chalk to write notes on the chalkboard)
Vana tichizvimba maoko nekunyora manotes mumabhuku
(Learners fingers were swelling as a result of writing huge amounts of notes in their note books)

Macomputer pfacha pano paPakati
(Now that computers are here at Pakati)
Vadzidzisi vodzidzisa nemavideos
(Teachers are now using videos in their lessons)
Manotes ongonzi name pachidziro neprojector
(Notes are now being projected on the chalkboard)
Magames takuita saruraude
(We now have many games to play on the computers)
Maemails tongotumira patadira
(We can now send emails)
Kuwatsura hauzomboda
(We can now communicate on WhatsApp platform)
Kuzoti kugoogler painternet, huya zvako uone
(We can now research on the internet)

(Thank you)

Thank You Mr Walker
By Sydney Jeke form 2 learner

Thank you Mr Walker, thank you sir
Thank you for giving us computers
Thank you for giving us football jerseys
We shall forever be grateful

Now we can play games on the computers
Now we can watch educational videos
Now we can look smart in our football jerseys
Our school can now print examinations papers
Thank you Mr Walker and all the friends of Pakati schools
We hope this is just the beginning of greater things to come
Thank you

After the weekend, myself, Bothwell, Councillor Maliki, and the staff at both schools were involved in setting up the computers and laptops at both schools, getting a few students in to try them out and have a short lesson in basic IT.

At the Secondary School
At the Primary school

This really was the culmination of the work began in 2018. I want to personally thank everyone involved, be they students or staff at the schools, VIP guests, visitors, those who looked after me in Zimbabwe, donors of goods, time, effort including walking, or money, or publicity, or who have supported this project in any wway this year – a MASSIVE THANK YOU!!!

Thank you from Chris, here at Pakati in September this yezr

There will now be another part to this review….including people I met this visit, Miss Chadbon, and where the project goes in 2020 all to come in part 5!

Pakati: Review of the Year – Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of review of 2019!

Author flanked by Stuart Pine and Richard Musgrave from the Stephenson Group,
who generously donated computer equipment to Pakati schools

In July this year I went to Horsforth in Leeds to visit the Stephenson Group, where their IT manager Stuart Pine lived up to his promise to by handing over several desktop PCs, monitors and other IT equipment which included keyboard and mouse for each PC.

Donation kept safe in my Dad’s garage…

I used a portion of the funds raised to add significantly to the equipment. I added to the number of monitors to match the number of desktop computers. I added 2 laptops, bought an 8th desktop, and added a mixture of cables and multi-socket plug extensions.

Having brought them to my home in Bradford, I enlisted the help of my son Daniel, and he helped to set up and test out the equipment. Using our home wi-fi, he installed basic software including internet security for free.

Daniel setting up the computers

Once all the equipment was ready, early in September, Dan and I drove down to Leicester where we met the owners and workers at Coedma Freight International. This was the company chosen to transport everything to Harare, Zimbabwe, and deliver it to a secure address awaiting my visit to collect at the end of September.

Car full ready for the journey to the shipping company, Coedma Freight International.
Our equipment being securely wrapped and packed for the journey

Having used another large part of donated funds to pay for the transporting of the goods all the way from Bradford to Harare. By mid-September I learned everything had been safely delivered to the secure address in Harare where I would collect them later in the month.

Safely delivered!

In late August, I finally had the official presentation of funds donated by Scunthorpe United thanks to the Chairman, Peter Swann. As he was away, CEO Jim Rodwell did the presentation, and proceeded to donate some more club shirts to Pakati.

Scunthorpe United CEO Jim Rodwell presents the author with additional football shirts as part of the donation of funds promised to

While this was going on, two local Scunthorpe United fan groups were helping with publicity (Iron Bru and Iron Trust) and donations of memorabilia to sell for additional funds (Iron Trust). A lot of football shirts were given to sell, and another Iron fan (Simon) used his knowledge of the market to raise money via ebay sales.

Some of the shirts sold to raise funds for Pakati

During this time I had frequent contact with people in the Pakati area, and coninued to receive stories and photos showing life in the area.

Students collecting water from a well to use during Agriculture lessons
Learners in a remedial English class
Bothwell Riside, former student at both Pakati schools, giving an inspirational speech
to current learners at Pakati Secondary school

So the final instalment of the review of the year will be along in a few days, and will cover all of the extraordinary events around the delivery and handover of all donated goods in late September, contact with another former teacher, plus the discussions of what we do in 2020.

Pakati: Review of the Year – Part 2

This second part of the review of 2019 covers the sponsored walk, football shirts, promise of donation to fundraising campaign, sports at Pakati and profiles from Pakati people.

The sponsored walk began outside Bradford City football ground

The planned sponsored walk between Bradford City football ground and Scunthorpe United football ground took place in late April over 3 days, in the lead up to the match between the two clubs. The participants were the author, his son Daniel along with girlfriend Alice for all 3 days, and Scunthorpe fan Brian plus Bradford fan Karen for the final leg into Scunthorpe.

Arrived at Scunthorpe United

Over the 3 days we travelled around 57 miles/90km, over mostly hilly ground in the early part of the walk, before flattening out in the later stages. Here are a few photos to remind us of what we went through..

During day one between Bradford and Wakefield
Kare, Brian and Daniel, day three
Daniel, Alice and Karen approaching the ground

After the walk, we had lunch in the club restaurant. After the meal I was interviewed by the club, and was then presented with some match-worn football shirts which turns out were valuable – an unexpected source of further income for the fundraising campaign!

Some of the donated shirts
The club has given Friends of Pakati tremendous support – including this,
one of several articles published in their matchday programmes

There then followed a number of donations of shirts by fans of the club, both individually and via supporters groups. They were both for sale to raise funds, or to be sent to Pakati for students to use.

The club also gave a number of shirts from the past two seasons, which were to be sent to Pakati schools.

Rob Noble, Head of Marketing and Supporter Liaison at the Iron,
donating shirts to the author before a match at the club

At the end of the meal, before the Scunthorpe versus Bradford game, one last surprise for me – club Chairman Peter Swann came over to congratulate us on the walk, then promptly offered to match whatever we raised by the start of the next season! More on this in the next part of the review….

Whilst this was going on in the UK, life was going on as normal at Pakati – lessons, sports, etc.

Pakati girls Vollyball team in action
Pakati boys Football team in action
Building and Construction lesson at Pakati

For supporters of the project, including former students, the chance to tell their stories also continued. One particular former student of mine gave us three instalments of her personal, inspiring story – Lorraine Mapuranga.

Lorraine visits her home area of Pakati earlier this year
L-to-R: Mr Walker, Mr Nyamayua, Mr Kashangura, Mr Mutatapasi, Mr Choga,
Mr Goororo, Mr Murwira, Mr Chirape – Pakati Secondary school staff, 1989

I found the above picture when helping to clear out my late mother’s things, and it brought back so many good memories of my time as a teacher at Pakati Secondary school, between January 1989 and August 1991. Happy days indeed…

More in part 3 soon, including computer donations, goods being sent, organising the delivery to Zimbabwe, accepting the donation of funds, then, finally in part 4, the actual delivery of goods to Pakati, celebrations, the story of another former teacher from the UK, and discussions of where we go in 2020.

Pakati: Review of the Year – Part 1

Welcome to this first part of the Review of 2019 at Pakati.

Pakati Primary and Secondary schools from the air

The story of this year really began in 2018 when I revisited Pakati Secondary school for the first time since 1992….I met the current Headmaster, Mr Mugove Chifaka, and this project was born out of our discussions. Computers for both Primary and Secondary became my motivation. I set about planning things: Publicity. Social Media. Fundraising. Activities. Donations. Contact. Visiting.

Assembly at Pakati Secondary school

The project was being organised from October 2018, and planned to launch January 16th, 2019, to coincide with the 30th anniversary of my starting work at Pakati Secondary school through the international development charity, VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas). By the time of the launch date, much of the important vehicles for publicity were already in place – Website/blog, Twitter, gofundme page, email, and within a couple of weeks, Facebook page. Soon after the launch, key publicity messages were getting spread, particularly in my home area of Scunthorpe.

Scunthorpe Telegraph interviews lead to the first of a few articles

BBC Radio Humberside picked up the story too…and their sports programme broadcast a live interview which lead to the Stephenson Group getting involved as a donor of computers. It also lead to the start of an unseen bonus – football shirts.

Donors of several computers for Pakati, the Stephenson Group from Leeds

During the early months of 2019 I found myself training towards the largest fundraising event I had planned – a sponsored walk between two football grounds – Bradford City ( the city I live in) and Scunthorpe United (the town I am from and club I support) – in the days leading up to the match between the two sides near the end of April.

Walking up and down the hills of Bradford proved invaluable preparation for the sponsored walk

During this time and throughout the time since my visit I was in regular contact with at first staff, and later former students of Pakati schools. These gave me valuable insights into life there according to the local community themselves, with stories, photos videos and most interestingly, individual profiles. Telling these stories brought Pakati to life for people here in the UK who became interested in my project.

Agriculture lesson at Pakati Primary school

I was able to show what it is like to live and learn in what is a typical rural community in Zimbabwe, and discuss what, if anything, has changed since I was there 30 years before. To do that I had help from many friends old and new who were willing to tell their stories here on the blog. Possibly the most remarkable story was that of my now close friend, Bothwell Riside. His tale of growing up in real poverty but succeeding in becoming very well educated is genuinely moving and inspiring.

Bothwell Riside, Harare, October 2019

Sports play a very important role in school life at both Pakati schools, and they frequently out-perform some of their larger local rival scools.

Primary school athletes
Secondary school boys football team
Secondary school girls football team

As I prepared for the walk, developed the blog, publicised fundraising, promoted the stories and grew my list of contacts, I was stopped in my tracks in mid-March, as my Mother passed away after a long battle with dementia. The blog I posted naming her as a true Friend of Pakati was both heartbreaking for me, but also celebrated an important event in her life according to her own words, the two visits my parents made to Zimbbabwe in 1990 and 91. Her first visit brought her to Pakati as she wanted to see where I was living and working. Only as we went through her personal things did we realise how profound an impact it all had on her.

My mum had a tremendous sense of adventure…..
which came out during her two visits to Zimbabwe

This first part of the review will end here….but there is more to come! The Walk, the funds raised, football shirts, planned visit, donations collected and delivered, actual vist and celebrations, plus, of course, ongoing life at both Pakati schools.

Realiity inside Pakati Secondary school during lessons

School term ends across Zimbabwe….plus things still to come

Today schools have closed across Zimbabwe for the Christmas break (and therefore Summer Holidays – it is in the Southern Hemisphere!).

Mr Chizenya, busy preparing his reports yesterday

Today Pakati students will have received their reports from their teachers, to take home to their families.

While the preparation for reports has been going on for some days…..

School Clerk Mr Nehanda helping to prepare reports for teachers to complete with marks and comments

….School Development Committees have been discussing pressing issues….

Some members of PakatiSDC at Pakati yesterday

…while some students have been entertaining themselves on the school laptop!

Still to come in future posts:

More articles on development projects in the area

A review of the year at Pakati

Where this project goes in 2020

More personal stories & pictures from people associated with Pakati & the community

More about Moringa planting….following on from the previous post

The author received more information yesterday following the blog posted about small scale development projects in and around the Pakati area. This was about the planting of the crop of Moringa plants from Vari Marez of Vatonatsa Foundation, along with some more photos…

Packets of Moringa powder

This was produced by Heather Chimoga Orphancare, another charity organization in Murewa Ward 1 where VaTonatsa team and Mapanga staff went for training on how to grow Moringa.

In the picture above is Varaidzo Mayenzanise the Founding Director at VaTonatsa and Mr Chris Ediyeti the Head of Projects at Heather Chimoga Orphancare showing a 2 meter tall Moringa plant ready for harvesting.

Learners preparing the seedling pockets to nurse the Mooringa plant

This project is backed and supported by Hans Hafnugel of Kolibrierhos Initiative, who is a friend to Vatonatsa Foundation, based in Germany. There is more to come soon on other projects by the Foundation.

Small Scale developments at Pakati and the surrounding areas – second part of a series of articles.

This post follows on from the piece I wrote on 26th November, regarding small scale development projects around the area I am familiar with: Pakati and the nearby communities. I want to highlight some of the great work being done locally to try and improve the lives of some of the poorest people in the area.

Itroducing computers at Pakati schools, 2019

Friends of Pakati came about because of a conversation between the Head of Pakati Secondary school and one of his predecessors from 30 years ago. This is not the first project the author was involved in at Pakati….

In 1990, I became aware of small scale development funding being available to suitable projects, particularly in rural communities. I heard about projects such as bee-keeping, rearing chickens, and as I did, organising a borehole and associated agricultural plot for a school. As with a number if other projects, some of what was set up is no longer present, but the community borehole remains, and is regularly serviced by Murewa District Development Fund (DDF).

Between Pakati Primary and Secondary schools, a well-used community borehole set up in 1990

Manpanga School is only a few kilometres from Pakati, closer to Murewa. Vatonatsa Foundation is a local non-profit organisation which among other things, helps a number of particularly deprived children with their school fees and uniforms who attend Mapanga Primary school.

Their core focus is the welfare of children, and in order to ensure they are well fed and also to help them earn an income, at the school Vatonatsa have an ongoing project growing a high-nutrition plant called Moringa. It is a valuable plant in communities where people struggle to get maximum nutrition. The plant has a lot of ways it can be consumed, but most common is by eating the leaves such as in a relish (sauce) or tea leaves. This project was begun in March 2019.

Moringa planting by Vatonatsa at Mapanga school, assisted by local councillor Alderman Maliki who carried out the groundbreaking ceremony, with Head of Mapanga Mrs Maenzanise looking on

This from Vari Marez of Vatonatsa:
“We also are involved with goat rearing at Mapanga school, and also the social reach out we initiated in line with the Children’s rights convention, so we are conducting an exercise to assist children without birth certificates in Ward 14 of Murewa. Most of our work is currently based at Mapanga, although our projects will spread to most other areas of Ward 14 too during 2020.

There are more projects which Vatonatsa are involved in, in and around Mapanga school. I will include more information and photos from these in forthcoming articles in this series. There are also many other projects going on in the area, and I will also discuss them in future posts, detailing who is involved and what is being planned or already being done.