Written by Chris Walker:
Following a recent visit to Bristol, where 3 Friends of Pakati (Debbie Chadbon, Chris, and Lorraine Mapuranga) met up together in a reunion for the first time in 30 years or more. We talked a lot about our experiences at the Secondary school, covering 1989 to 1993 as teachers, Acting Head, and as a student. There is a blog out covering the reunion, but I thought it would be great to post some of Debbie’s photos.
She has a couple of large photo albums from her time in Africa, about half of which is dedicated to Pakati in particular. I have posted quite a few of my own on our www.instagram.com/friendsofpakati page not long ago, but I will add several of Debbie’s soon after this is published here on the blog. Let me start with my own favourite picture from her collection:
This is a very familiar view for me, taken just outside the house I stayed in, & Debbie had the same room as me after I had left when she was at Pakati from September 1991 to August 1993.
The main difference for me is that the classroom block seen on the right of the picture above is complete, whereas it was unfinished throughout my time. VSO had helped to pay for some of the finishing touches needed, so it was officially opened in 1992, as seen in the next photo.
This was the building on which Debbie painted her World Map, now used as one of our images on our merchandise
Debbie has a few photos taken while she was creating the Map. She said to me that she wasnt’t really much of an artist, but someone had told her it was relatively easy to do – just get a map, divide it into squares, lightly add the same number of larger squares onto the wall, then copy the contents of each square on the wall in outline, and fill it in! Debbie says she didn’t feel particularly safe stood on the metal barrel balanced on top of two desks, but thankfully there were no mishaps.
She did have help from some of her students, and it took around 5 or 6 weekends to complete. Friend of Pakati stalwart Bothwell Riside was still young at the time, but he distinctly remembers being surprised by the fact that she did her painting left-handed!
Debbie was not alone as a VSO volunteer for her first year – her colleague Jayne Beattie seen in the right hand picture, had 12 months at the school, but had to leave earlier for personal reasons.
Life at the school as depicted by Debbie is a reminder to me of my own experience at Pakati. For example, teachers & students gathering outside the house to talk, cook, keep warm, etc.
It was great to wind down at the end of the day with colleagues, or enjoy the slow pace of life over the weekend with some students passing by.
Life inside the classrooms was also very familiar to me, teaching was a challenge given the circumstances, but also a real pleasure because of the students themselves.
Debbie joined in with everyday life at Pakati, pretty much as I did. We shared accommodation with local colleagues, so cooked & ate together on a daily basis.
There are so many more photos from Debbie’s album archive, so keep an eye out on Instagram using the tag @friendsofpakati in the coming days to see more about her stay at Pakati Secondary school!