Helping the wonderful students of Pakati schools in Zimbabwe
Author: Friends Of Pakati
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.
Well I got another surprise recently, when I was informed that one of the teachers at Pakati Primary school has been promoted.
One of our key contacts at the school has been Mr Johannes Chorichi, one of who’s responsibilities was as sports coach. He can be seen in the video we had made to thank Scunthorpe United for their donation of football shirts back in 2019:
Mr Chorichi joined Pakati Primary school in 2010, and became a senior teacher. He also graduated with a Bachelor of Education degree in Sociology in 2020, after which he became Acting Deputy Head from 2021.
He teaches Grade 7 pupils, and was a national Shona examiner from 2014 to 2020, and from 2021 is a national examinations monitor.
He has also been imvolved in school sports & games, including Chess & Handball. Chess – produced pupils who participated in district & provincial tournaments. Handball – district champions in 2017 (boys) & 2018 (girls).
Lastly, he says that he likes nyama (meat) & was the chairperson of the beef committee!
The school threw a farewell party for Mr Chorichi & his wife (who is a former teacher there).
Mr Mahachi (Head, right, blue shirt) attended with other staff members.
His promotion is to substantive Deputy Head at St. Cyprian in Marondera. Congratulations from Friends of Pakati!
Greetings everyone! Today I will just bring you up to date on our fundraising & where we stand financially.
We currently have a couple of regular donors every month, plus others who give when they can. In July this year we had to pay out to maintain the website, & this took a large chunk of our funds (costing £288). We currently have just over £280 in our account.
Friends of Pakati website
Recently at the office where I work we had a Dress Up/Dress Down day, & colleagues paid a small amount. We collected over £70, but will publish the full amount during next week when it is added to our paypal account http://www.paypal.me/friendsofpakati
At work on the Dress Up day with my colleague Shak
I also just heard from Debbie Chadbon this weekend that she is once again having a stall at a local fayre/market. Earlier this year she had managed to raise £50 for Friends of Pakati by selling some of our merchandise as well as some of her home made jam & cakes.
Debbie at her stall earlier this year raising funds for Friends of Pakati
I have just found out (via a Whats App group in Ward 14) that there has just been a change at Pakati Secondary school….
It came as a surprise to me, but Mr Chifaka announced on the Ward 14 group that he is leaving Pakati Secondary school. As soon as I saw it, I contacted him to find out more…
He tells me that he has been promoted from Acting Head at Pakati, to substantive Deputy Head at Macheke High school – a much larger school than Pakati.
Appaarently, the move officially took place on 26th October 2023. I will post a separate blog to follow up by covering the new Head at Pakati – Mr Chizenya – who was Mr Chifaka’s Deputy for over a year.
For now, here is my tribute to Mr Chifaka…
I first met Mr Chifaka in September 2018 when I revisited Pakati Secondary school for the first time since 1992. I spent an afternoon at the school, being shown round by Mr Chifaka and some of the staff.
I noticed a number of new developments at the school since my time there [1989 to 1991), such as several new teachers houses, new Admin block, 2 new classroom blocks for science and for fashion & fabrics, plus an area set aside for building/construction lessons. There was a car park, and new blossoming trees.
I also saw that little had changed in other areas – inside the classrooms, the desks, student numbers, school toilets….but overall the school environment had definitely improved over the years.
Also there is a marked improvement for students by the increased enforcement of the school uniform.
I want to put on record my personal thanks to Mr Chifaka for his very warm welcome in 2018, and his forward thinking on behalf of the school & community – it was his desire for development at Pakati in the form of computers which lead me to set up Friends of Pakati.
Selflessly, right from the start, he insisted that the Primary school was included. He was smart enough to see the long-term advantage of having students in the future coming to the Secondary school with knowledge of IT already. The curriculum in Zimbabwe now requires use & understanding of IT as part of everyday learning.
While there is much to do still to improve things at Pakati, I am proud of what we have achieved so far here at Friends of Pakati. Mr Chifaka has been involved as part of the team by providing support, advice, photos, stories, videos, as well as encouragement. He has brought the staff on board too, many of whom have been content contributors in all aapects of school life. My thanks go to all of the staff for their continued support.
Undoubtedly part of his legacy can be seen in the recent developments – the new IT Suite, and concrete paving around the school.
I am delighted that Mr Chizenya has been given the opportunity to run the school, and I have already congratulated him on the appointment. I am certain we will continue to have support from & give support to the staff, students & community of Pakati schools. More on this key development in the coming weeks!
Greetings everyone! Well I was expecting to hear about the trip from Bothwell, and he hasn’t let me down…so below is the message he sent me to publish here on the blog.
“Ousofia in London
In the early hours of the day, the massive 800+ seater Emirates Airbus descended and landed at Manchester Airport (I almost said Manchester United Airport). Making a beeline, we headed to the immigration authorities, where I expected to be bombarded with many questions. To my surprise, the official was remarkably professional and didn’t ask me many questions.
Chris was already waiting for me, and it was a memorable sight as he greeted me and handed over a present, the English way, of course. Someone from Zimbabwe, Mashonaland East, or more precisely, from Murewa—Murewa West, to be exact. Ward 14, Chinhoyi village—had just landed. A Pakati Primary and Secondary School alumnus and a member of the Friends of Pakati executive had truly arrived. Well, for those I grew up with, this was never my dream. If I had ever mentioned that one day I would be in the UK, USA, Malaysia, playing soccer in the Mberengwa area near Kahangaiwa’s house, I might have been labeled insane. The dream I never had was the dream of walking down the UK streets.
As we drove past the wide tarmac roads of the M-prefixed roads, Chris, my driver (I don’t want to offend him), decided to take me through other roads so that I would have a full view of everything happening. The terrain from Manchester city to Bradford was such a spectacular view. The ever-meandering roads, valleys, stone-built roads were my major attraction. Of course, I was not an Ousaofia in London, for London was not even close by. Perhaps it was an incredible two hours away, and forcing myself to go there was not the best. Tired but not very sleepy since 8 am is exactly 1400 hours in Southeast Asia, I felt very energetic. We had some photoshoots as I was welcomed by Chris’ sons. The weather was rainy, and I could think it could be one of the cold June days in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe and the UK share a lot of things in common. Our education system is British, and our spellings and everything mimic or mirror the British systems. The food we find in restaurants, the roads, and ways of driving make one think they are in another well-developed Zimbabwe. For those who have traveled from Johannesburg to Cape Town by road, please know that that’s how this part of the UK looks like.
The following day appeared to have been the most exciting one as we headed to Chris’s hometown and made our way to Scunthorpe FC field, where we recorded a podcast and video. Bradley, whose contacts I have been having, was waiting for us there, and we went for lunch and toured the nearest places before recording. These guys love their team, and Scunthorpe, besides being in unfashionable leagues, is permanently engrossed in the hearts of these men. Is it these men only, or is it also the entire Friends of Pakati fraternity who are beneficiaries of what the football team and its faithful supporters have done? I appreciated everything and had hoped if there was a match on the day.
As the never-moving sun was supposedly about to set, we found our way back to Bradford. This time, unlike on our way to Scunthorpe, we used another route for me to maximize my tour. I was really a tourist, for sure. The following day was another day. I had to go and see my former colleague, Lazarus Tigere, where we had a chat and some barbecue, braai before we went to see Veronica Walker, who had also had a hand in my traveling. The bubbly Veronica welcomed us well, and we were served a traditional sadza meal. I was not coming from Zimbabwe, by the way; I was coming from Malaysia, and where I stay, we rarely have time to find sadza. For me, it was the best moment too.
Sadly, Lorraine, one of my closest, was at work, and I could only speak to her through video calls. Derby is also far, and I could not see her. While Chris said he was returning the favor, I never thought hosting him at my house would require returning the favor, for I had done this due to my passion for the development of Pakati. Our aim is to make Friends of Pakati grow in leaps and bounds and become a fully-fledged NGO registered both in the UK and Zimbabwe. Our scope of operation must transcend beyond Pakati schools and perhaps become a national NGO. Who knows, the skies are the limit.
As my departure loomed, the anticipation of bidding farewell to this newfound world of British charm and Zimbabwean nostalgia hung in the air. The richness of the experience wasn’t lost on me as I packed my bags for the return journey to Kuala Lumpur.
The penultimate day saw me strolling through the enchanting streets of Bradford, taking in the quaint blend of Victorian architecture and modern urban life. It was a farewell tour, and every corner seemed to whisper stories of the people I had met and the moments we had shared. The vibrant culture of the city resonated with the echoes of Zimbabwe, creating a unique tapestry of memories. As I headed to the airport I had bittersweet symphony of emotions. Dorothy, my lovely Muzukuru came to meet Chris and I at the airport where we exchanged promises of staying connected despite the physical distance. The airport, a junction of arrivals and departures, mirrored the crossroads of my journey — a convergence of past and future.
As I boarded the plane, the images of English landscapes and Zimbabwean warmth played like a montage in my mind. The flight back to Kuala Lumpur was a transition from the cool English weather to the tropical embrace of Malaysia. Yet, the warmth of the memories lingered, creating a bridge between continents.
And so, the chapter titled “Ousofia in London” concluded, leaving me with a tapestry of experiences and a renewed commitment to the vision of Friends of Pakati. As I looked towards the future, I couldn’t help but wonder what other adventures awaited on the horizon, for the skies, indeed, are limitless.”
Here is a reminder of the previous blogs about this flying visit:
Last weekend we had a flying visit from Bothwell Riside, our Friend of Pakati & key member of the team behind it. So how did he end up at Glanford Park, the home of Scinthorpe United Football Club, and what were we doing there? All will be revealed….
Let me go back to 2019, when I visited Pakati to hand over our first donations of IT & Sports tops, when Bothwell & his family kindly hosted me at their homestead just next to Pakati Secondary school.
They looked after me & made sure I was comfortable, and the welcome could not be bettered at any 5* hotel. As a former Teacher & Acting Head I was already familiar with the area, but had not stayed anywhere other than in the teachers house provided by the school.
So with Bothwell here in the UK, I wanted to return the hospitality & show him some of my own home area in Scunthorpe. I also arranged for Bradley Mell, our podcast host, to come alomg & meet us – the best place to meet would be at Glanford Park though sadly there was no home game that day for SUFC.
In the last couple of weeks I have had information & photos from Mrs Munatswa, teacher at the school. She sent me the following message: “These tables will accomodate 24 computers. May you please source more computers & wifi for Pakati secondary”
The school is delighted with the IT lab, as students have been admiring it.
So what we need to do is raise more funds to allow us to have the donated computers out to the school. There is no timescale as such, just as soon as we csn raise enough money for transporting the goods, probably at least £1000.
As it stands we have around £250 in the kitty, so we need to raise at least another £750 in the coming weeks. I have a small fundraiser at my work towards the end of this month which might raise another £50 or so.
Just recently in Zimbabwe there were elections, including local councils. The new Ward 14 councillor, Joakim Njenje, came to Pakati Secondary school to talk to the students.
Keep an eye out for more news from Friends of Pakati very soon!
So let us start wuth the very first major fundraising event – the Walk – which took place in April 2019.
Along with my son Daniel, we walked over 2 and a half days, from Bradford City Football Club to Scunthorpe United Football Club (around 60 miles/85 km) prior to a match between them on the Saturday.
The last leg was from Thorne to Scunthorpe, & we were joined by my work Colleague Karen from Bradford, & fellow Iron fan Brian from Scunthorpe.
We were welcomed at the club before the game, & were given a number of donations, and promised by the club to match our total at the end of August – which came to a total of over £1300.
The football shirts given were a bonus which raised more over time, and brought Iron fan Simon Faulkner on board with his knowledge of the market & expertise at selling. Here are some of the shirts we sold:
All of this helped us pay for the donated items of IT equipment & sports tops to get from Bradford to Pakati in September of 2019. Question then was what to do in 2020?
Well as Covid 19 took over the world, contact with other people became very limited. In my job as a Civil Servant I was designated as a Key Worker, so continued to go to work along with a handful of colleagues. I started walking to work & back, as part of my challenge to lose weight – which became my fundraiser for 2020.
I went from 117kg to under 100kg over a period of 8 months. From the funds raised Friends of Pakati were able to join up with out partner organisation, VaTonatsa Foundation, and provide support for exam-class students in all 5 schools in the same Ward with Pakati.
There has been a steady stream of buyers, & still attracting new ones regularly, adding much-needed funds to the pot.
Last year, 2022, as we began to emerge from the pandemic, an idea first suggested in 2020, came to life at last…Get Tied Up For Pakati’…where football supporters agreed to wear a tie at a match between Bradford City & Scunthorpe United…
So now in 2023, we are once again looking for funds, as we want to send more items to Pakati schools next year, and get other help to them too. What we need now is….ideas please! What can we do to try & raise money for next year? Please send us ideas by any method, @friendsofpakati is the way to find us on twitter (X), Facebook & Instagram, message us on this website, or email us at email@example.com