Some wonderful comments about Friends of Pakati…

Every now and then I get some very supportive messages from people who read our stories, some of who I know personally. This weekend was one such time…

I very recently received some wonderful comments from Max Bell, a friend and fellow Scunthorpe United fan. He has been very supportive of Friends of Pakati and all we are trying to do, regularly helping to promote us across social media platforms. I have edited very little, as it wasn’t necessary. Not surprising as he is a journalist & author…I am very grateful for all the support and encouragement, and the very kind words seen below. Thanks Max!

Max Bell’s blog

Max signing his recent book ‘Scunthorpe United F.C. 20 Legends’

“Why I’m proud to support Friends of Pakati…

With the U.K. still in the swing of its third national lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic still rampant, things are really tough right now for millions of people. That isn’t just about all of us wanting to return to the pre-virus “normal”, but hopefully being able to help build a better “normal”.

What have we learned over this last year that might help make the world a better place?
When times are hard, it can be easy for not just individuals, but an entire country – to return to its shell and vow that it will only look after itself. But the fears, questions, and hopes for the future that we all have, don’t just begin or stop at Dover or Heathrow Airport.

A happy, healthy, safe, well educated and COVID-free world makes things better for all of us at home too. Life isn’t a competition. Which is why I have been so inspired by, and proud to support, all of the amazing ‘Friends of Pakati’ work that the great Chris Walker has been persevering with.

Pakati is a primary and secondary school that Chris used to teach at as a VSO volunteer in the Murewa District of Zimbabwe, and despite now being safely settled in Bradford with a family, it is clear that it still owns a huge place in his heart. And I’m sure that Chris won’t mind me pointing out that it is now 30 years since he taught there! (Not at all Max, can’t deny the truth!)

Whether it’s computers or laptops for schoolchildren who need to work from home, used football shirts so kids can exercise and play the beautiful game, or fundraising for an education we all take for advantage – his efforts and your support really do make a huge difference.

The project is over two years old now, and it has gone from strength to strength. Who couldn’t help but be inspired by the prospect of children having access to the internet and new skills for the first time ever – because of the tenacity and generosity of complete strangers thousands of miles away? The brilliant photo of so many Pakati kids posing in Scunthorpe United football shirts was a particular highlight of mine! (See more about this here – https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/02/17/pakati-primary-new-sports-tops-on-show-as-they-prepare-for-the-zonal-sports-competition/our most-read post)

Our shared connection through our love of Scunthorpe United football club is how I have known Chris for a number of years now, and hopefully Chris won’t be too embarrassed if I admit that I am blown away by just how much amazing work he has been able to do!

Read about our vision here – https://friendsofpakati.com/2020-vision-friends-of-pakati-the-project-continues/

Before my reinvention as a freelance journalist, I was lucky enough to work for the amazing Oxfam charity in the international development sector, which runs similar projects all around the world. Perhaps the most humbling day I spent there was helping to organise a refugee from Syria to speak about his experiences of fleeing police torture and giving back to a country that had given so much to him. So I always try and ensure that we never forget how much of a huge benefit all of us can pass on, no matter how small the gesture or support, when we help give our brothers and sisters around the world a leg-up.

This is why I’m proud to support Friends of Pakati. Because even at a time when things are really tough for so many of us – it is inspiring to see just how much of a positive difference it is making right now.

I always make a point of sharing and liking Friends of Pakati’s work on social media, to try and help spread the word to some of my friends and followers. And there has been no shortage of that in recent weeks!

It was also great to be able to buy some recent merchandise from them, to help support their fundraising work. The badge is great, but I do particularly like the coaster – as it helps me drink my own weight in fizzy pop every day during lockdown!

(See all about our merchandise here https://friendsofpakati.com/2021/01/09/friends-of-pakati-merchandise-for-sale/ )

I’m also hoping to finally burn off some of those Christmas biscuits with some Pakati-friendly walking. Don’t worry people – that challenge will be running until the summer, meaning that like me, you’ve still got plenty of time to get those walking shoes on. And of course, this blog will also hopefully also encourage people to spread the word and help support an amazing cause.

(See how you can help here – https://friendsofpakati.com/2021/01/13/pcs-to-pakati/ & how we are doing here – https://friendsofpakati.com/pcs-to-pakati-check-our-progress/ )

You can find out more information at the Friends of Pakati website and even follow my lead in buying some merchandise by visiting the Friends of Pakati shop right here!

There is lots of great information on their website; giving progress on how they’re getting computers to Pakati, the amazing work taking place during the Coronavirus pandemic, their partner organisations, first-hand stories and profiles from Pakati, and their primary and secondary school work. All at http://www.friendsofpakati.com

You can also contact Chris Walker directly if you have any ideas as to how you can get involved, visit the GoFundMe fundraising page http://gofundme.com/friends-of-pakati , email at friendsofpakati@gmail.com, or even follow on Facebook http://facebook.com/Friends-of-pakati and Twitter http://twitter.com/friendsofpakati
But most important of all? Keep up the good work everyone!”

I had a nice inscription from Max when I bought his excellent book recently

I am absolutely delighted to post this, and thank Max very much on behalf of all of us involved with Friends of Pakati. Humbling indeed to be called the great Chris Walker….but this is by no means a one-man show. We include 2 current Heads, 2 former students, another former teacher, a key equipment donor, and many contributors in different ways. Should anyone else like to comment, please feel free!

Author:

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. I married a Zimbabwean woman & we have 2 sons.

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