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 spent the last 13 years as a Civil Servant in Bradford. I married a Zimbabwean woman & we have 2 sons.
Following on from the recent blog ‘Coming up on friends of pakati very soon’, I have delivered on much of what was promised:
Launch of the Authors fundraising ‘event’ for this year – losing weight!
First day I had a weigh-in to show a starting point, and now I have also started walking again, similar to last year, around my local area of Bradford. The good news is that donations have started to come in once more, and already I have had a number of promises of more.
Still waiting for confirmation of Debbie’s precise involvement in fundraising activities
Email from Debbie suggests she is looking to do a sponsored event, either walking, running or cycling in the Bristol area. All funds raised to go to friendsofpakati.com
Pakati Primary school sends pictures from the first few days of Term 1
Mr Mahachi, Head of Pakati Primary school sent a number of photos this week of the start of the first term in 2020 for students and teachers alike.
Former student revisits Pakati Secondary school
Lorraine Mapuranga went back to Pakati Secondary school for the first time since she completed Form 4 in 1992, and sent her report in recently.
I will continue to update the blog with all aspects of the project, from Zimbabwe and the UK, to keep followers, donors and interested parties involved throughout the year.
This week saw schools re-open on Tuesday across Zimbabwe. Pakati Primary school Head Mr Mahachi sent me a number of photos from the first few days of the new term. This is the first term of the school year in Zimbabwe.
The children at Pakati Primary semm happy to be back at school after their summer break
The school garden needs some work doing…
Students around the school….
Many thanks to Mr Mahachi for organising the photos! We look forward to hearing more about progress at the school this term.
Well I sent an all-office email out today, declaring my intention to lose weight over the coming months. I got a great response from several colleagues, and hope that by 1st of June I will have lost enough to generate a good amount of money for friendsofpakati.com
At 1pm today I was weighed officially, and below are my results:
17 stone 9 lbs / 113.4 kg for me.
My colleague & friend Karen registered a weight of 10 stone 4 lbs
I want to lose as much as I can by 1st June so we can use funds raised in good time before late September when I hope to return to Pakati.
Following on from the first official post this year – 2020 – one of the promised items was about fundraising. The priorities having already been decided ( see relevant page on this website ) it is time to launch the ideas that have taken root, and the main one for me, the author, will come as quite a surprise to those who know me well…..
It is this. My aim is to lose weight. Some tell me I need to, others tell me to stay as I am. However, it is clear to me at the age of 62 that my current weight (to be confirmed in the next day or so) is not sustainable in the long run if I want to live longer….so….to give me added impetus to succeed, I have decided to make it a challenge to myself to use it as a fundraising idea for this project. Rather than set a target amount of weight loss, I have set a date target of 1st June 2020. Anyone willing to sponsor me can either agree a set fee, or to do it at so much per Kg, measured on 1st June. Monies to be paid through the usual fundraising page of http://gofundme/friends-of-pakati or in cash for me to donate to the page myself.
Other ideas that look promising are things like events at my workplace such as a dress down day, cake sale ( hard for me to deal with that!), or something for Iron fans to get involved with – maybe an away day where as many as possible dress up in shirt & tie, or fancy dress in some way…to be agreed as am consulting right now…
Should anyone have any ideas on other fundraising event large or small, please do not hesitate to contact me through the contact page or important links page, both can be found at the top of this homepage.
My friend and work colleague Karen has decided to join in, as she wants to lose some weight. As she helped on last years event, she wanted to get involved again this year – she is very supportive of friendsofpakati.com and its aims. We walked together occasionally when training during February to April 2019, so plan to do so again this time as part of the lifestyle changes needed to support weight loss.
I also hear from former teacher Debbie Chadbon that she is contemplating a challenge of her own – maybe walking, running or cycling to raise funds for us – Thank you Debbie!!
Well that’s the cat out of the bag now….so with lots of support I hope to raise more funds for this cause, helping the school and community where I was made so welcome 30 years ago, but as I found out just 4 months ago, we haven’t forgotten each other.
Regular contributor to friendsofpakati.com Lorraine Mapuranga, on holiday from her job in South Africa, made a brief return to her family homestead recently. During this trip she went to Pakati Secondary school for the first time since she was a Form 4 student in 1992. Below is her report and pictures from the area including her home area.
“Hello Mr Walker, I hope you are well. As I told you previously that I would, I visited my home village of Chidawaya, and as promised I paid a visit to my former school, Pakati Secondary. Going home to visit where we all grew up together is always exciting, as it reminds us all of how we lived back then, and what it is like for us now.
We arrived at the vilage, and were met by relatives and friends from the area. It was very hot – a drought is currently affecting crops and cattle locally, and it reminded me of 1992 when I was doing Form 4. We spent the night there, and in the morning I could see maize crops (staple food in Zimbabwe) wilting in the heat.
On our way back we passed through the school and saw one of the teachers, who introduced himself as a History and Heritage teacher – Mr Chizenya. The school was very quiet as was the norm with any school holidays during our time.
Thanks to Mr Cizenya who welcomed us as we introduced ourselves as old students of the school, and myself personally as a contributor to Friends of Pakati. We discussed a few topics as we only had limited time. Among those discussions were the developments of the school after your visit, one of which was a staff toilet which was built following donation by Dr Gurajane, CEO of Murewa Rural District Council, and also a new school tuckshop being built.
I asked about any further planned projects, and Mr Chizenya showed me a fowl run which was built some time ago, and they intend to use it for raising chickens. I think there are some financial constraints hindering it’s functionality. We also had some pictures taken, though limited since the Head was not there and we could not go against the school rules.. you know the moment you set foot at the school your mind goes back to being a student and obedience is one of the characters of who we were!
We complied with all the do’s and dont’s that we were told, but generally it was a very exciting moment for me to be back at the school after such a very long time – before my son was born – and I went to the school with him this time around. He had attended his grade 3 at the Primary school. “
Lorraine tells me she passed by my host Bothwell Riside’s home, but sadly no-one was home at the time. Nice for me to have a pictoral reminder of my wonderful stay there recently – thank you Lorraine!
• Hot news! This coming week sees the launch of one element of this years fundraising campaign – the Author is planning an announcement early in the week, which will surprise many who know him…
• More news! Promise of some further help from Debbie Chadbon….an email I had recently suggests she is also planning to get more involved with friendsofpakati.com – we await her next move with anticipation….
• Latest news! Schools re-open to all students on Tuesday….I am hoping to hear from both schools to see how things are going this first week back.
• Former Student news! Frequent contributor Lorraine Mapuranga informs me she has recently paid a rare visit back to her home area, and visited the school for the first tine in over 20 years…looking forward to her forthcoming report and comments.
January, 1990. Having spent the festive period back in the UK at the end of 1989, Christmas with family in Scunthorpe, then New Year with friends in Bradford, I returned to Zimbabwe after a brief stay in London in order to fly out from Heathrow airport.
If I recall correctly, schools re-opened on Tuesday 9th January, after teachers had to have returned by the day before. Knowing me, I would have been back in Harare in time to go out on the Saturday night somewhere with other VSO volunteers, most likely some local live music venue.
As Debbie Chadbon commented in her blog post earlier, there was quite a high turnover of staff in Zimbabwe’s rural schools at the time. In the photo above, I think at least 4 of the teachers pictured had already moved on to other schools. My return was to coincide with two new housemates, plus a new store which opened near to the school. In those days there were very few qualified teachers, usually just the senior staff were the only ones educated beyond ‘O’ level/GCSE.
The struggles faced by the Head at the time – Mr Samakomva – will be very fimiliar to the current incumbent – Mr Chifaka. At the start of the year one very important thing is to get students to bring their school fees…this provides large parts of the school budget for things like desks, seats, text books and equipment for teachers.
Back in 1990, developments at the school were slow…the unfinished block seen above was not in use until after I left in 1991, once the supplies to complete it arrived. It was Debbie Chadbon who was responsible for getting the World Map painted on the end wall of that block.
With so many challenges being faced by such schools, it is concerning that the current economic difficulties in Zimbabwe will affect the administrations’ ability to have a budget to work with. This years budgetting for both schools was agreed in December, but already it will have been eroded. I am hoping that we can therefore help with at least some of the needs of the two schools at Pakati in 2020.