3 years on & still going strong!

Fantastic news for us as Friends of Pakati celebrates THREE YEARS since its inception in October 2018! Read below about how it came into existence, who else has come on board over that time, what we have delivered and what we plan to do in the coming months.

Plesse keep checking our archive of the blog, and visiting the other pages on this website to find out so much more about us!

I arrived in Harare mid-September, 2018, for a holiday. Staying with relatives, I decided to revisit the school where I had worked (through VSO) between Jan 1989 and Sept 1991, where I taught Maths, & became Acting Head for two terms – Pakati Secondary school.

About 80 km/50 miles from Harare, the school and its main feeder – Pakati Primary school – lie in a remote rural area directly East of the capital. Its a fairly peaceful place, populated by subsistance farmers and their families, growing various crops for food & for sale in markets.

Pakati Primary school on the left, the Secondary school is on the right.

My first visit to the school since 1992…I was a bit nervous to be honest, unsure of what would happen. Really I shouldn’t have worried, as the welcome I got from the Head, his staff, and the community, was very warm indeed. It felt like I had hardly been away!

I spoke to the Head, Mr Mugove Chifaka, and having seen some of the developments since my time, asked him what he would most like to see. He gave me a one-word answer: COMPUTERS. He had seen the changes heading his way from the Ministry of Education, that even rural schools were to have IT lessons, and would need internet access to fulfil those demands. This is what triggered me to set up Friends of Pakati.

Within 3 months, I had researched into how I might acquire some IT equipment and how to get it out to Zimbabwe. It seemed it would need a fair bit of fundraising, setting up a website and a social media presence, plus publicity….and gradually a plan came together. I decided to launch everything together on Wednesday 16th January 2019, to coincide with the 30 year anniversary of the day I first set foot in a classroom as a teacher at Pakati Secondary school.

I had this website in place, a twitter account set up http://Twitter.com/friendsofpakati , an email address friendsofpakati@gmail.com plus a fundraising page, http://Gofundme.com/friends-of-pakati then soon after, http://Facebook.com/Friends-of-pakati was in place. More recently we have added http://Instagram.com/friendsofpakati and http://Youtube.com/friendsofpakati which are still being developed, plus http://Paypal.me/friendsofpakati now our preferred fundraising platform.

I had an idea for a fundraising challenge, linked to my hometown football club – Scunthorpe United – and the club in the city where I currently live – Bradford City. They were due to play each other in a league match at the end of April, so I decided to try a sponsored walk between the two football grounds. It took 3 days from Bradford to Scunthorpe, a total of almost 60 miles/85km, arriving shortly before the game. Many of my friends at Scunthorpe United were very supportive, as were the club itself (see pic below of Rob Noble, the Marketing Manager at Scunthorpe United, handing over donated shirts)

 

 

 

 

Crucially, the local media were also on board. I had an article in the local newspaper, the Scunthorpe Telegraph, and an interview on BBC Radio Humberside, both on the day I launched the project. The radio broadcast was overheard by Stuart Pine, IT manager at The Stephenson Group from Leeds, & he offered some PC’s to me for the schools. Stu was on board!

Stu Pine on the left, The Author in 2019

Next on board with us were two former Pakati students, one of whom I taught back in 1990 & 91. Lorraine Mapuranga (my former student) and Bothwell Riside began to get involved, and I met both in person in September 2019 when we delivered the donated IT & Sports equipment to both Pakati schools.

The Author with Lorraine & Bothwell at her home in Harare, October 2019

The handing over of the goods was a great experience, meeting many friends old and new. This included Councillor Israel Maliki, MP Jonah Sewera, and Vari Mayez of the VaTonatsa Foundation, who have become key partners for us.

Not long after, Bothwell finally made contact with another former Pakati teacher – Debbie Chadbon from Bristol. She has joined the team of key supporters, and has helped greatly with recent fundraising efforts.

Between us, now we plan to send even more IT goods to Pakati sometime in 2022, partly depending on when the international travel restrictions are sufficiently relaxed. Stu tells me there are another 20 PCs available for us at least, so massive thanks go to the Stephenson Group! https://www.stephensonpersonalcare.com

 

We hope to raise enough money to not just transport the goods, but also to provide internet access, and more educational materials for both schools. We are therefore always grateful to those who donate, whether it is noney, goods, or practical help in some way. Recently we have had invaluable contributions from The TeamCaro Foundation! http://www.theteamcarofoundation.org.uk

We always need more help, in terms of money, goods, social media support, publicity and other practical support. If you or someone you know can help, please use friendsofpakati@gmail.com to contact us, and http://Paypal.me/friendsofpakati We keep going, thanks to the support of many individuals too many to mention.

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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