Reflections on my trip to Pakati…

Hi Everyone! So now I finally have time to look back on my trip, & discuss some of the issues which were brought to my attention as I travelled across Ward 14, Murewa.

As I headed to board my flight from Harare to Lusaka, Doha, Dublin & finally to Manchester, I had plenty to think about. But before I talk about anything, below are the links to the recent blogs about what Friends of Pakati got up to:

It was an honour to address the students of Pakati Secondary school for the first time since 1991

Let me also take this opportunity to thank everyone involved with my trip, with special mentions to the following:

  • The Heads, staff, SDC’s, parents & students of all 5 schools & Village Heads in the Ward for their warmest of welcomes.
  • The MP & local Councillor, Murewa RDC, the DSI, and the DA for their help & support for the visit & donations to proceed
  • All other organisations who attended in support, including VaTonatsa Foundation & GirlUpZimbabwe
  • My host & Friends of Pakati representative Lorraine Mapuranga & her family for their fantastic hospitality!
  • All who spoke with me, were interviewed by me (& in one case interviewed me as well…), and took photos or videos of the visit

Thank you!

OK, so onto the various issues that were raised.

Firstly, I want to talk about things which were raised by students at Pakati – after all, they are the people Friends of Pakati exist for!

During day 3 at Pakati, our big celebration day, some students were calling for certain things to improve, and said as much to all present. They were asking for help to repair classroom doors & windows, and asked also for new toilets at the Secondary. I can understand that – it looks like they are the same toilets students have been using since I taught there over 30 years ago!

Part of the students toilets can be seen on the far left of the pucture, in the distance behind the heads of the students. Pic taken in 1991.

The SDC & local community may be able to help with things like doors & windows, but may need help to build new toilets.

I can say that the students can make a contribution themselves by looking after the school grounds better – e.g. litter picking & maybe finding suitable places for litter before/instead of dropping it. They can take more care of the internal classroom setting too – floors & walls, removing & discouraging graffiti. More pride in the learning environment would help. The staff can encourage students in these matters too.

Inside a classroom, photo taken in 2019

The biggest issue I was made aware of, during the latter part of day 3, was that some among the staff at Pakati & among the community themselves, were not at ease with Friends of Pakati getting involved with other schools in the area. They see us as their own only. After all, it is called Friends of PAKATI,  & I am inextricably linked to Pakati by my personal history of working at the Secondary. It is a legitimate concern, & I will answer it here myself.

For me, to get things done in Zimbahwe requires co-operation, and sometimes compromise. Part of my response is already in print, in part 4 of my story of the trip (link is near the top of this blog). In order to do what we really want to – support Pakati schools – we needed to work with others, such as VaTonatsa Foundation, the local Councillor & the MP & others.

Therefore, in order to get the solar power restored to Pakati, and the football shirts which were exclusive to Pakati schools, and to get the protocols in place to celebrate as we did on day 3 (see also the link above), it needed a level of co-operation which could only be done with help locally.

The inevitable compromise which guaranteed Pakati got what was needed, something needed to be offered to the other Ward schools. The laptops were only suutable for the Heads to help with administration, & the t-shirts were easy to share being so many. No cost to Friends of Pakati, as we paid/are paying for the solar repairs at both Pakati schools. Really, as I see it, not to give a small amount to the other schools would have been selfish.

Let me reassure everyone, Pakati is always at the heart & centre of what we do, & always will be. It is where I became part of the community (I am a Gushungo, remember?). My personal connection to the school is what makes it very special.

Next thing we will do after the solar power is restored at both Pakati schools will be to rause funds to ship out the promised IT from our donors, the Stephenson Group – at least 20 PC’s. Hooefukky it will be done in tine to visit Pakati once mire in 2023! We hope to bring a guest or two as well…

Coming soon….

  • New podcasts recorded during my trip
  • New videos for our YouTube channel
  • More pictures released on Instagram
  • Short films being created for us
  • Much more from Pakati schools themselves




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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