From Pakati to South East England…

Written by Chris Walker.

Welcome to this week’s blog! I do enjoy telling the stories of former students of Pakati schools & what they have done since they left. For me it is an important message to those currently studying at both Pakati schools – and so many others like them – of what can be achieved regardless of your background.

Lorraine with her school friend Chido in Form 3 at Pakati in 1991.

Today I am continuing the story of one of my own former students, who will already be known to readers of Friends of Pakati, as she has contributed a number of times already – Lorraine Mapuranga. A couple of her previous posts can be found here https://friendsofpakati.com/2023/01/09/first-blog-of-2023/ and here https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/05/01/podcast-episode-4-lorraine-tells-her-story/

I also mentioned here https://friendsofpakati.com/2023/01/09/first-blog-of-2023/ that Lorraine was now in the UK, living & working in the South East of England. So how did that come about? What has her experience been like? I spoke to her recently & asked about it all. Here is what came out of that conversation… 

Departure from Harare, arrival in Birmingham in  24 hours. 

So I began by asking her what she had been doing before coming to England: “I arrived in South Africa in Nov 2017, and I was working as a domestic worker when I first got there. The family I worked for also had a company, and when they were looking for an administrative position, I presented my qualifications and they offered me a job. I worked there until 2020 when Covid 19 hit, and then I was left with no choice except to go back to domestic work.” 

Lorraine far left with her 2 children, myself, & her friends in 2019.

Next, I wanted to know why she chose to come to England: “There are a lot of push factors that made me leave South Africa and pull factors of course to the UK. I was undocumented in SA, and the means to be documented remained a nightmare. This meant I had no means of securing a job of my choice. There are a lot of other factors, one among them most is violence against foreigners. Myself, family and friends were insecure when they heard about foreigners being targeted for violence.  The UK was attractive then, as they were inviting skilled personnel from health and social care and I found myself drawn to it. Good remuneration, steady economy, good health sector and of course being in a first world country was always my dream.

Lorraine relaxing in South Africa in late 2020.

I had found an article in the newspaper that the UK was recruiting. I researched it, and got information from the UK Government website. I met the requirements after some additional training and applied. I went through various companies when applying, and got booked for interviews. One company in particular were offering sponsorship, and following their processes & interviews I was successful. It was not a simple process, but with their help that’s how I got here. My family and friends were also very supportive right through from the beginning till now.”

I wanted to know about her journey, and her first impressions: “My journey was emotional and exciting at the same time as this was the longest flight I been on. It was also exciting to be on a train for the first time and I’m amazed how I travelled from the central region (where my employer was based) down to the South East where I am currently deployed. Nervous and anxious at the same time but above all I was excited I was going properly overseas for the 1st time! About the weather, it was as I expected it, though it was not that pleasant, but I was geared up with my warm clothes. People are very friendly and welcoming.

Everything is new, there is all sorts of food but sadly I haven’t easily found my favourite yet, but I have since adjusted to the English food. I did expect a change in everything as I had done research and also training about life in the UK. I am happy with my work. Very happy. Simply adjusting to long hours of work. I did experience my first my Christmas here which was lovely.”

So I said tell me more about life here, I said, any plans yet? “I have so many plans but what I have noticed here is time is precious, I came for work so my social time is very limited as I only have a couple of days away from work. Here you work for survival. If you don’t work you won’t live. There are bills to pay, taxman is also watching and life is a bit more expensive. Otherwise I have no solid plans yet, give me about 6 months to settle then I can think of any plans. Of course I do plan to visit my former teachers and their families in the near future. They both can’t wait to meet with me in UK. They both assisted me with a lot of ideas & advice when I was doing my job application process, when I got my visa and even when I arrived.”

“Keeping warm is essential here in winter!”

Finally I asked about her first impressions: “UK is a lovely place to work but it values straightforward ways of living. Time is very important here. For example, trains & busses move on a strict timetable just like flights. You got be there before time otherwise you miss it. Respect of law is very important in the UK especially with driving. And everyone here works. No job is looked down upon and there is no room for errors in any form. The consequences are regrettable. Rule of law is highly respected. That’s my lesson so far.”

Day one sees Lorraine relaxing in a pub near her employers offices.

A huge thank you to our very own representative here at Friends of Pakati, Lorraine continues to be an essential supporter of ours!

25th November 2022 at Pakati Primary School

Written by: Chris Walker

With so many things going on since I returned from Zimbabwe in October last year, I missed the information and pictures which Mr Mahachi (Head of Pakati Primary) sent me.

Students waiting for the ceremony to begin.

On 25th November, the Primary school held its annual Prize Giving event, hosted by Mr Mahachi, as introduced by him in the video below:

From Mr Mahachi: “All winners in categories of academic grade position 1 to 5, good behaviour, different sporting codes, smartness, early comers to school, prefects of the year. They got tracksuits plus other complimentary prizes such as exercise books, books, pens, rulers. Grade 7 students got satchels.”

 

A few more photos from the day.

 

To come in future blogs:

  • Bradley Mell’s first post for Friends of Pakati
  • Latest news from both Pakati schools
  • New podcast with one of my former colleagues in 1989
  • Updates from Stuart Pine of our IT donors

Friends of Pakati Podcast: Episode 14

Episode 14 – Chris discusses memories of the two trips his parents took to visit him in Zimbabwe.

At the end of this episode Chris mentions that he is trying to contact a former colleague to come onto the podcast. Since recording, we have been able to arrange this with the guest and that interview will be coming to you in February.

 

Looking Back… A Very Personal Story

Written by Chris Walker.

 

Well, after a very moving and emotional funeral service for my Dad, my two brothers & I began the task of clearing out our parents home. We found plenty of evidence of their separate main passions – the local church for Mum, and music for my Dad. What we also found were the passions they shared, namely travel, and more importantly, family – namely us: Terry, Chris & Martin.

We found it in letters, in old school books, in documents, but most of all, in boxes & boxes of photographs! The treasure trove contained our own individual histories growing up, our weddings & children, lots of family photos of holidays stretching back to 1959. There were mementos too – guide books, coffee table books, souvenirs and so on.

Not surprisingly, for me, the key part of my life is without question my time as a VSO volunteer in Zimbabwe between 1989 & 1991, and it is clear to me that our parents 2 visits to Zimbabwe were significant to them also. No doubt my brothers will have their own important memories to cherish, but this blog is about my own personal memories. Here is the story from my perspective, thanks to my parents willingness to come & see what I was up to in Zimbabwe!

The picture above shows me aged 9, 11 & about 23. The picture below of me graduating where I was 31.

What I did next I think surprised many who knew me…I didn’t seem to have much sense of adventure! All the same, one of my friends said she thought I hadn’t really tried that hard to get a job in Bradford. She may have been right…

I applied to Voluntary Service Overseas, and after being interviewed & accepted in September 1988, eventually I was posted to Zimbabwe in January 1989. Specifically, to Pakati Secondary school, where my teaching career began on 16th January. 

I settled in fairly quickly, after a shaky start, and got to know my new colleagues in the picture below

I also settled in my new home at the school…

…and took to travelling around Zimbabwe during school holidays, where there is much to see. When Mum & Dad came, I took them around the country both times. We have many pictures from Hwange National Park, Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe, Eastern Highlands & other places. Some of these pictures are below.

Here is the passport page with stamps showing when they came to Zimbabwe both times……and the diary entries from my Mum in her Zimbabwe 1990 diary.

At the end of 1990 I went home for Christmas & New Year to visit family and friends. During this visit I organised the first visit to Zimbabwe for Mum and Dad. While in the UK I went to see my local newspaper in what has become my home, Bradford, the Telegraph & Argus. I had been interviewed by them before I first went to Zimbabwe, and wanted an update. So, I agreed, but they just printed a short piece which I have added below:

After this difficult time for me and my family, looking back on this period has been therapeutic, knowing how much our parents enjoyed their visits. Also, the sheer amount of pictures, letters, documents and memorabilia shows me that they were also quite proud of my achievements during that time

.

By the time I returned to Pakati in 2018, Mum was already in the last 6 months of her life, suffering with Dementia, while Dad was her main carer. He has supported Friends of Pakati throughout. Like my brothers, and so many others who knew both our parents, I already miss them both every day.

First blog of 2023!

A very warm welcome to the New Year from all of us at Friends of Pakati, we hope we can all make good progress this year. Here is the summary of what happened for us in 2022 – https://friendsofpakati.com/2023/01/01/friends-of-pakati-review-of-2022/

These are some of the students at Pakati schools who Friends of Pakati are in existence to help

We are deep in the planning stage for our activities in 2023, and we will reveal as much as we can in the next blog – which is planned for Monday, 16th January. Why that date? Well because it will be the 4th Anniversary of our original launch back in 2019. That in itself was a relevant day for me…because that was 30 years to the day that I first set foot in a classroom as a teacher at Pakati Secondary school.

I am currently lining up new guests for our podcast series – https://friendsofpakati.com/friends-of-pakati-podcasts/ – including one of our key supporters, and one of the members of staff from the photo below:

Pakati Secondary school staff in 1989 (most of them…)

In a couple of recent posts we have hinted at someone from Friends of Pakati being a bit nearer to us than before… see in these previous blogs: https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/11/06/5-news-items/ and https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/12/24/merry-christmas-and-other-issues/

So…now we can reveal…our very own Lorraine Mapuranga is here in the UK! More on this story soon…

As we head towards our next goal of official Charity status, we will be arranging ourselves as the official Trustees, with the relevant roles & titles. Putting ourselves into a more formal setting will benefit us greatly by being able to attract more donors, funds, sponsors, and access things like tax refunds, Gift Aid, and other benefits. 

We have so much to do this year, we need the continued support from our donors, followers and sponsors. Those of us involved in running Friends of Pakati are determined to work together to improve things for those students pictured at the top of this blog.

 

Friends of Pakati – Review of 2022!

Greetings everyone, and a Happy New Year for 2023 from all of us here at Friends of Pakati…namely:

Chris Walker, Stuart Pine, Bothwell Riside, Lorraine Mapuranga, Debbie Chadbon, Bradley Mell and Roj Rahman. We also include the Heads of the two Pakati schools – Mugove Chifaka (Secondary) and Ambrose Mahachi (Primary).

So let us look back on 2022…in a different way than normal this time. I didn’t want to just repeat what we have done before. I thought I would cover issues, rather than chronology, and after looking at the posts during 2022, here are the results: 

Fundraising

Consultancy

Two obituaries

New…

Podcasts

School visits

During Chris’ visit to Pakati in September 2022

Fundraising.

We had two main fundraising events in 2022 – ‘Get Tied Up for Pakati’, and ‘An Evening With…’

Scunthorpe United fans got Tied Up at Bradford City for Friends of Pakati

Read all about it here – https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/04/24/funds-raised-as-we-got-tied-up-for-pakati/ – which raised over £1100 for us. There is a page showing other photos from the event – https://friendsofpakati.com/gallery-get-tied-up-for-pakati/

Our second Fundraiser earned us over £400, even though attendance was not as strong as we had hoped for. We sold tickets, got sponsorship, were donated items to raffle, and sold some of our own merchandise, as well as had a great guest speaker – Neil Cox – and some wonderful live music from E.V.I.E.

Find out more here – https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/07/10/friends-of-pakati-change-of-focusplus-latest-news/

Consultancy

Friends of Pakati approached a local University – Huddersfield – to get some help/advice on marketing & our online presence. Thanks to their efforts we are working on our website & social media in the background.

This is one of the items mentioned in the post https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/08/07/new-donations/ but it also was given to us in a presentation in September, just before I visited Zimbabwe. 

Two obituaries

Friends of Pakati have been affected by two deaths in particular this year, and I am glad I have been able to pay tribute to them both here on the blog. 

First, my old friend from the Pakati area, Thomas Gombera. I was lucky enough to see him on my previous visit to the area in 2019. Find out about him here – https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/03/17/in-memory-of-my-friend-thomas-gombera/

Secondly, and far more recently, my own father, and at 92 he has had a good long life. Read more about him here – https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/12/24/merry-christmas-and-other-issues/ – the funeral is to be in January.

New…

2022 has seen some new people get involved more closely with Friends of Pakati. Most notable among them are  Roj Rahman and Bradley Mell. Both of them I got to know through our mutual love of Scunthorpe United. 

Roj has been very generous in supporting Friends of Pakati, including sponsoring our fundraising event ‘An Evening With..’ which was also hosted by Bradley. Brad has become increasingly involved with us, most effectively with a new series of videos and Podcasts, our next subject.

Podcasts

Something I had not considered were podcasts, though I am familiar with them thanks to Brad & his involvement with the Iron Bru podcasts for fans of Scunthorpe United. All of our own podcasts can be found here – https://friendsofpakati.com/friends-of-pakati-podcasts/  – we also recorded some video interviews. 

And finally, the highlight of the year for Friends of Pakati…

School visits

In late September I returned to Zimbabwe for the first time since the Covid pandemic hit in early 2020. One of the Friends of Pakati team hosted me in 2019 – Bothwell Riside – and this time it was my pleasure to stay with Lorraine Mapuranga, my former student from 1990, in her village of Chidawaya some few kilometres from Pakati schools. 

We visited all five schools in Ward 14, Murewa District, and delivered Chromebooks, t-shirts, and football shirts. At every school we were warmly welcomed, fed and entertained. The story of the visit is told in the 4  blogs below:

https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/10/05/pakati-visit-2022-day-1-of-a-memorable-week/

https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/10/07/pakati-visit-2022-day-2-around-both-pakati-schools/

https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/10/09/pakati-visit-2022-day-3-big-celebrations/

https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/10/11/pakati-visit-2022-days-4-5-other-ward-14-schools/

It was another very memorable trip, one I hope to repeat in 2023 if possible…

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE from FRIENDS OF PAKATI !!

Merry Christmas and Other Issues

Greetings everyone….Friends of Pakati are back online after a short break. We are still working in the background on our website, charity status and other improvements – much more on those in future posts.

Coming this week – A second ‘obituary’, news of Friends of Pakati, and Christmas Greetings!

Right now however, myself – the Author, Chris Walker – am in mourning following the passing of my father, Derrick, this week. Aged 92, he had lived a long & fruitful life. My mother passed away in 2019 & we honoured her on here – https://friendsofpakati.com/2019/03/16/saturday-star-a-friend-of-pakati-and-of-zimbabwe/ – so it is right I do the same for my Dad.

Derrick with Pat, taken in 2016

While Mum had a sense of adventure which lead her to visit me in Zimbabwe in 1990 & 91, Dad was more reluctant. But because he didn’t want her to go alone, he came too both times. He ended up loving his visits, especially that first trip when they visited Pakati to see where I was working.

Together we visited tourist areas in Zimbabwe – From Harare we travelled to Pakati first, then Marondera, Mutare, Great Zimbabwe, Bulawayo, Hwange National Park, and Victoria Falls. He would sometimes get out his photos from the trip, & reminisce with me about it all. 

Mum & Dad in Zambia, the spray from Victoria Falls can be seen behind Dad’s head

Dad had been a Draughtsman in different parts of the Scunthorpe steelworks complex, and retired in 1990. Outside of work, his love was music. He was an accomplished viola player, regularly performing in local orchestras across Lincolnshire & Humberside.

Dad playing his beloved viola with friends

He has always been proud of his family – his 3 sons Terry, Chris & Martin – and their families, which gave him 6 Grandchildren.

Derrick with his 3 sons, Chris, Martin & Terry, in 2019

Now we find ourselves grieving for him, and preparing for a funeral in the New Year. RIP Dad💔

———-//———-//———-//———-

 

Friends of Pakati news…

Following a recent discussion, we are delighted to welcome on board….

L to R: David Scott, Chris Walker & Roj Rahman

…the gentleman on the right!

Not only is Roj joining us, but someone – a mystery guest – has come to see us here in England. More about the mystery guest in 2023! Who do you think it might be???

Finally…Christmas greetings…

Friends of Pakati wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year for 2023!!