**Saturday Star** Vari Mayez, a Friend of Pakati, under lockdown in Harare

Vari is the founder of VaTonatsa Foundation, an organisation dedicated to helping poorer children with access to education, currently concentrating on Ward 14, Murewa. I came across her last year when she visited Pakati during our presentation of IT and other equipment to the two Pakati schools. Since then we have become supporters of each others projects, and are currently looking into some kind of collaboration in the future. Here is what she had to say about life under lockdown at her home in Harare..

“For me the lockdown period has kept my hands full. I am mostly occupied with work as an accountant, work at VaTonatsa Foundation, motherhood, being a student and personal care. In other words I am trying to maintain a grip on my usual life but in a different environment – my home.

L to R: my new friends Holly from VaTonatsa, Bothwell, Councillor Maliki, myself, and Vari from VaTonatsa, at Pakati, September 2019

A typical day for me starts with household chores, then I workout. In the past I would go for a 5km jog 3 days a week, but due to the lockdown I now improvise some workouts at home. I am fortunate to work with a professional trainer and friend Kim Vee who assists via her WhatsApp group. After breakfast I start work. When I am not working formal work, I study. Its good that my studies at UNISA have always been distance /online learning, so they are only slightly affected. Assignment submission deadlines were moved and exam dates are yet to be announced.

The flip side of lockdown is that our fundraiser and calendar events at VaTonatsa Foundation have been negatively impacted. We postponed our event initially slated for 28 March “My Dreams of the future” to a date to be announced in the future.

Some of our fundraiser projects are in Murewa, for example the Moringa projects, so we cannot travel during this time for hands on supervision. We however believe it’s for the greater good that we postponed these events. At this stage it’s important to preserve human life. Also in our culture – we are finding it hard to social distance because in the past it was a sign of kudada or kusema, so some think if I demand distance it means ndasema next person (Kusema= to despise/ndasema= I despise/Kudada=to be full of yourself or to be pompous).

The lockdown has given me some flexibility so I can schedule things in my own way, unlike when I have to be in the office at 8 when it’s normal days. I am grateful to have more time with my sons Taye and Zuva.

I am able to spend more time with them both, including planting some Moringa at our home. We are making a small Moringa nursery in the front yard. We intend to plant the seeds in Murewa when we can travel after the lockdown. The boys help with seed sowing, watering and weeding.

When I am not working we play board games such as Chess (Taye has taught me a lot) and Snakes and Ladders.

Zimbabweans seem to have ebraced the need for social distancing, but some do find it difficult to follow it strictly, particularly where funerals are concerned. I believe we shall overcome these tough times, especially if we can adhere to the measures put in place. I put this paper on my fridge for the boys to stay aware.

I am a believer that life has various seasons but with time all this shall pass. It is important to stay positive and I encourage people to follow information from verified sources so that they have correct knowledge about COVID19.”

In happier times earlier in 2020, Vari at Victoria Falls displaying the Zimbabwe national flag.


My name is Chris Walker, and between January 1989 and September 1991 I worked, through VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas), at Pakati Secondary School in Murehwa South district in Zimbabwe. I was a Maths teacher for 2 years, the Acting Head for the last 8 months there. I have also taught in Botswana & the UK, had 4 years working for VSO, and have been a Civil Servant in Bradford since 2005.

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