Great news for Pakati schools!

Remember this from last year?

Guess what? The Stephenson Group from Horsforth, Leeds have come up trumps again with the following email I have recently recieved….

Hi Chris,

I hope you are keeping well.

I have about 10 PC’s which are available for donation for the schools if you are interested, I do have a couple of monitors and some keyboards/ mice.  There is also a mono laser printer.

Hopefully you are interested in them but if not just let me know.


Stuart and Richard from the Stephenson Group are seen either side of the Author on the day the donated IT equipment was collected last year

Not surprisingly, I replied with a YES PLEASE! as this will help us meet one of the key priorities for 2020. It gives us a lift to make sure we can raise enough money to send them to Pakati in the same way, in time for my next planned visit in September.

We will be able hopefully to buy any additional items as necessary, such as enough monitors, cables and power multi-sockets as we did last year.

Primary school students getting the chance to try out their compuuters

These donations will mean more students will get opportunities to access IT, in a lesson set-up. 10 computers will be enough to run formal lessons for both schools.

Below is my reply to Stuart’s email:

Hi Stu! Thank you for the email, I am absolutely delighted that you are willing once again to donate your computers to Pakati schools. So the answer is definitely YES PLEASE👍🏽As I continue to fundraise for the schools, you will know that more IT equipment is one of several priorities for this year. The funds raised will once again allow me to buy the extra monitors, cables & any other items needed such as printers, mice(?) and keyboards. Also it will help us pay to instal the internet, and provide additional security.Whatever items you can provide will be very gratefully received by the schools and community. I look forward to visiting you at Stephenson Group once more, and of course will be more than happy to get involved in any positive publicity for you. Keep me informed on when you might have them ready to collect. Thank you so much! Kind regards, Chris Walker, Friends of Pakati

First use of computers at Pakati Secondary school, September 2019

Soon after, I heard back from Stuart at Stephenson Group, with a bit more information. Once more Friends of Pakati are very grateful to the group, and look forward to providing them with regular updates on how their donations are being used. THANK YOU!!

Here is how Stuart replied…..

Thanks Chris,

I am glad you are happy to accept the donations again, it may increase but that will be the minimum number you will get from us.

I will have a couple of monitors and I should be able to supply the keyboards and mice.  I will also be able to supply you with Data cables and some network equipment so you will be able to get all the PC’s up and running.


In reply, on behalf of both schools, I thanked Stuart and the Stephenson group for their continued support for Friends of Pakati.

A young learner at the Primary gets the chance to try out IT for the first time

This will of course give fresh impetus for the fundraising efforts. So far there is the weight loss by the Author, Debbie’s 10km run, Scunthorpe United fans ‘Get TIED UP for Pakati’, plus still some football shirts to be sold…other initiatives may yet arise…things seem to be moving quickly now, and there are a number of other articles in the pipeline – just keep your eyes open for more great stories from Friends of Pakati!

Locally supported development in the areas close to Pakati

Buildings repaired

Back in late December 2019 I posted a piece called ‘Area Developments – Projects and Problems’, one part of which reported on high winds oin late November which had caused damage to a Community Hall and the local seed bank in Ward 14 of Murewa District.

Local councillor and friend of the Author, Alderman Israel Maliki, sent me details of how the repairs were arranged, summarised below.

Councillor Maliki & Cbris, September 2019

“I approached the local council – Murewa Rural District Council (MRDC) with the pictures of our storm damaged Community Hall. Fortunately the government, through the Mnistry of Finance, gave councils around the country funds to repair any damaged government and community infrastructure around their area. So we are one of the beneficiaries of that fund, and there are many schools and community buildings repaired so far.

Community Hall repairs going well

School Borehole

Borehole drilling equipment arriving at Chanetsa school

Chanetsa Secondary school (a sister school to Pakati) is a council school, and was built by the council, but due to the drought we couldn’t finish up building work at the school, because there was no water even around the communities, hence I approached the council last year for assistance.

MRDC then aproached the District Development Fund (DDF) who then paid a visit to the school to assess the situation. They found out that water was priority number one otherwise the school could be closed. The DDF had compiled a list of all institutions needing water urgently, and Chanetsa was #1 on the list. DDF had one of their partners EPZ come in and visited Chanetsa, and that partnership -MRDC, DDF and EPZ has done a great job for the school and community.”

EPZ drilling the borehole at Chanetsa

Mapanga school

There have been some good things happening at Mapanga school recently, and two things in particular have come to my attention.

Firstly, it was reported on a Ward 14 Whats App group that well wishers have donated stationery, uniforms, socks and shoes, then paid school fees for 5 learners in both the Primary and Secondary sections of the school.

And secondly, again from Alderman Maliki, the following message appeared courtesy of VaTonatsa Foundation on my time line:

We are happy with progress #MapangaPrimarySchool #ward14murewa . In spite of the hardships progress is being made. New furniture was recently bought for these grade 5 learners. It’s not all doom and gloom. Where our community makes small progress we applaud it because from a trickle comes a huge outpour.

It is a pleasure to report on things going on in areas close to Pakati. There are often crossovers between the communities, and it shows how much activity is happening even in the most trying of times.

Lorraine Mapuranga – life after Pakati

A life being lived to the full…my former student from 1990 and 1991 has told me more of her life since she left Pakati all those years ago, after completing her Form 4 in 1992.

Lorraine at home in Harare in 2020 enjoying the fruits of her labours

“Dear Mr Walker

I have a topic for you to share..I know you have had good experiences of Pakati like most of us on Friendsofpakati – let me give it a title that says
‘Let not your past pull you down, but learn from it and move forward’

I once wrote a story about my life at Pakati and the community around (see my earlier posts). From the pics and stories that you always post on the blog I seem to notice that there are some changes in lifestyle of the student today compared to yesteryear (mine) though not so much in some cases, e.g. looking at the life of the scholar. The same problems I suffered are not so far from the ones being experienced today, 28 years after I left the school – shortages of books, desks, uniforms, school fees and any material related to being a student in the rural school.

The learning environment looks to have changed very little in the past 30 years

Even under those difficult circumstances a lot of students managed to prosper through hard working..The economy may be struggling, high unemployment is the order of the day, but hard work is the only way out. Let me just shed a little light on how I managed life after school.

I got married at 21 and have my 2 children Keith and Mitchelle, but unfortunately my husband died, leaving me with my kids still in Primary school and creche. Sometimes problems befall us, and to overcome them, we must think outside the box.

Lorraine, Keith, Mitcelle and Chris, Domoboshawa caves, October 2019

I was employed by a private company then things seemed not to be working well because of inflation, but what is inflation? When things go wrong in one way or the other some people will tend to find opportunities. In 2008 I resigned from my job and started a small business. Hard work plus patience pays. I started on a project of selling eggs, and using my marketing experience from the company that I had been working for meant I found few challenges. Food was scarce then but I was very fortunate to connect with a commercial grower of eggs and chickens. I took up the challenge to market their produce on a commission basis.

A typical image of chicken rearing in Zimbabwe

My child was in form 1 at a boarding school and I had to work hard so that I could manage all that he needed. I never knew life at boarding school myself, but I learned of it from my son. I did well and just through selling of eggs and chickens. My business grew big and I even went on to do other things apart from just sending my kids to school. I could wake up as early as 3am and be home as late as 10pm..I changed myself from a formal secretary in an office to an informal sales lady in the business.

Lorraine (left) with her school friend Chido in 1991

Contrast this with Lorraine as she is now….

Lorraine in 2020

I just want to encourage others who will read my story that nothing must deter you from reaching set goals. My biggest achievement is taking my children where I wanted them to be and just managing a stable life. I have some lessons from the projects that I ran..I fell down from my business after cash challenges hit the country. I then relocated to South Africa where I now work, but my aim is to raise enough capital and return to my projects as I used to do. It was good to be my own boss and I still feel there’s room for me to rise up again. Hard work and perseverance pays..Let not the past destroy you but learn lessons and transform your own lives..Hoping this will help someone out there waiting for a job in a jobless country. Try enterprising while you wait for your right career.”

Lorraine, Keith and Mitchelle outside their home in Harare 2020

Authors comments:

Wow. Having met Lorraine and her family in 2019, I have to say she is playing down the efforts she has made in order to raise her children so well. I can also tell you when I listened to her story in more detail I was both inspired, and occasionally moved to tears. She continues to provide for her children, and is indeed living a full and active life. To me, it shows that someone from such humble beginnings can do well for themselves thanks partly to the encouragement from family, from some of the teachers at Pakati back in 1990-92, and from having a positive attitude even in the face of some very challenging circumstances.

Week 4 weigh-in…plus something to look forward to later today

Recorded 11/02/2020

Feels to me like slow progress but at least its heading in the right direction…

Week 4 showed a 1lb/0.5kg reduction…so now I am back under 17st for the first time in a few years! 108kg…its better but still a long way to go…10lbs down in total so far.

I am delighted by all the encouragement I am getting from family, friends and work colleagues.

Coming later today

Watch out for the next instalment from a regular contributor and true Friend of Pakati – Lorraine tells us more about her life since she left Pakati Secondary school back in December 1992..


Lorraine, December 2019

Debbie joins the fundraising for Friends of Pakati….and a hint of other things to come

This is wonderful news – thank you to Debbie!!

Debbie Chadbon, 2019

Debbie Chadbon, former Maths and Science teacher at Pakati 1991-1993, has told the Author she is ready to help out with fundraising for this year.

We have been exchanging emails for some time, and I learned that she has become an avid follower of this blog/website. Debbie has now said she has signed up to take part in the Bristol 10km run, which is due to take place on 3rd May this year, and has started her training recently.

Debbie in 1992 with some of her students

As it gets closer to the 3rd of May, she says she will start her fundraising for us among her family, friends and colleagues in and around the Bristol area. Whatever she manages to raise will be a great help towards meeting our priorities for 2020 – to find out what they are in more detail, see the separate page on this website –

More things to come in the next few days…..

● The 2 former students are close to finishing their latest updates on their stories – expect some inspiring material, stories of success against the odds, tragedy, coping in difficult circumstances and how one has ended up working in South East Asia

● Pakati Primary School preparations for this years athletics competitions

● Updates on fundraising activities including week 4 of the Authors weight-loss challenge

● Computers….I am waiting for official confirmation of another possible donation – to be announced this week!

Last years donations of IT equipment mostly came from the Stephenson Group from Leeds, seen here on its way to be packaged ready for shipping to Zimbabwe

Some memories from the Author….and why we need support for Pakati

It has been a while since I talked about some of my own recollections from over 30 years ago, but every now and then, something triggers a memory or two.

Recently I met someone from a different country who had only been in the UK for a short time. I thought about how they came to be here, what made them travel half way across the world, and how it felt to be in a foreign land for the first time. I remember vividly some of my own thoughts & feelings from January 1989…

For me, it was a choice, a decision I made myself, to apply to VSO and see where it might take me…the idea of doing what I did – teaching abroad – came coincidentally from a Zimbabwean family who I knew.

Students at Pakati, 1990

As a student teacher I became friends with a Zimbabwean musician. and when I first met his sister in around 1986 she asked what I was studying. When I told her, she said ‘Oh you should come to Zimbabwe, we need teachers’. So two years before I qualified the seed was planted about working overseas.

Having got through the VSO selection process in September 1988, and after Sierra Leone and the Solomon Islands decided they didn’t want a newly-qualified teacher, in very early December that year, Zimbabwe accepted me, and VSO matched me with Pakati Secondary School. It turned out to be a near perfect match.

After a delay arriving in Harare due to flight problems, which resulted in a 2-night stsy in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, a small group of new volunteers made it to Zimbabwe halfway through the week, and our in-country training was cut short. We landed on a Tuesday and were all being taken to our schools & colleges that weekend…

I believe we travelled on a Sunday, with two volunteers being dropped before me…one went to Shamva, the other to Mutoko. On the way back to Harare, myself and a serving volunteer who had visited the school before my posting was agreed, were dropped at Pakati just before dusk. I remember feeling as we drove further along a number of dirt roads how remote it seemed…daunting to say the least.

Pakati Students, 1991

We had to unload the equipment given to me to use – bed, 2-ring gas cooker, a few pots, pans & cutlery, a table & chairs, etc. – then set up what we could before dark. That first night (& several subsequent ones too) I was terrified of EVERYTHING! Every sound was new, I had no idea what a mosquito was like, whether I would wake up to scorpions, or any other creatures, in my room….I don’t remember a lot but I didnt sleep much that night!

I woke up the next day early as the sun was rising, and the other volunteer had to leave for his own school somewhere North of Murewa. I then spent the Monday meeting the other teachers, with the Deputy Mr Nyamauya showing me around the school.

My first thoughts were somewhat less than complimentary…as I wondered what exactly I had let myself in for. But even then I was determined to make the best of the situation. What really helped me was the reaction of the people I met – staff, students and the wider community. They did their utmost to make me feel welcone, helped me settle in, sort out any issues for me, and I was very grateful for it all.

Pakati Secindary school syaff, 1989

The school was small, around 300 or so students & I think we had 10 or 11 staff. The buildings looked to me to be a bit run down, with doors & windows in need of repair, desks & text books were too few, class sizes mostly too large, equipment generally in short supply. Plus there was no electricity or running water.

Students and staff at Pakati, 1990, putting up fencing.

Mr Samakomva, the Head, spent the first week taking me out of the school! We went to the District Offices in Murewa and Provincial Offices in Marondera. Passed through Harare more than once! I think I spent 1 day at school that first week…..At first, I couldn’t wait to get back to the city. By the end of my first term I couldn’t wait to get back to Pakati! Something had changed: it felt like home, like I belonged there. That feeling has not left me to this day.

Because of that feeling I have become involved once more with Pakati, and now I see similar issues as before…too few resources getting to where they are needed – for the benefit of the students. Still now there are too few desks & books & equipment. Still the teachers need materials to help them teach. There are developments – new buildings, teachers houses, electricity, fencing, the outside of the classrooms have been spruced up as have the paths around the grounds. But if the school is to develop a better learning environment for the students, it needs some help. Our help. To make some improvements will not cost a huge amount, and to bring Pakati – both schools – up to scratch, we are looking for help with 1. Internet, 2. Printers, 3. Security, 4. More IT, 5. Text books, and 6. Desks/seating. Plus the need to freshen up the school buildings interiors too. All of this comes at a cost….

Please help: donate money and/or goods to Pakati schools via the contacts below:

Pakati Secondary school, 1989

A mix of news and things to come…

Pakati Secondary school, September 2019

The friendsofpakati blog and website congratulates all those who have had their exam results recently! Without giving any specific details, I am aware that at least one of the Form 4 students at Pakati Secondary school from 2019 has been successful in their exams, passing across all subjects, and several have done well enough to go forward to study A Levels. Full results are to be discussed at the forthcoming AGM at the school, once the official anaysis of results is released. Head teacher Mr Mugove Chifaka tells me he will have more information on this for the blog after the AGM.

The Author at Pakati, September 2019

This week has seen the Author have his 3rd week weigh-in at work ….and while not losing anything, no weight has been gained either…..still showing 108.6kg/17st. Hoping to raise more funds for the project, and so far since the last trip to Zimbabwe, in September/October 2019, £115 has been raised in donations! Thanks to all those who have donated👍

Latest weigh-in, 4th Feb 2020

Still to come in the not-too-distant future, I am promised the following contributions to the blog:

2 former students who are supporters of friendsofpakati are going to send us more individual insights into their very different lives since leaving Pakati….both have made regular contributions to this blog, and both are good friends with the author.

Chris, Lorraine and Bothwell

Pakati Primary school head Mr Mahachi has said to us that the staff will start to send more pictures and stories from the Primary, as they also prepare for athletics competitions against other local schools.

Mr Mahachi and the author at Pakati Primary school, Septembrr 2019

Still along way to go, and so many more stories to tell before the next visit to Pakati, hopefully in September of this year.