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.
After this weekend Friends of Pakati is taking a break from blogging for a short time. This is so we can do some work on the website & other things. We will post occasional items on various social media platforms however.
One of the ‘other things’ will be to make progress on becoming a registered charity, as we want to tap into the funds which become accessible from various sources.
More photos from my recent visit..
Mrs Maenzanise, Head of Mapanga Primary school, has been sending me some photos from my trip when Friends of Pakati went to her school. Here is a selection of them:
As you can see, it was a very memorable visit, ending a great week in Ward 14 at all 5 schools including the Primaruly & Secondary schools at both Pakati and Chanetsa. Much more on the trip can be found in earlier posts here:
As seen on social media recently, one of our followers & former Pakati student Pauline Machengo, has put out a video compiled from pictures & videos I sent her. It is the last of the 3 videos from the title above, the other two were recorded during my recent trip to Zimbabwe.
Pauline is a film maker in her spare time & wanted to find out about how I came to be at Pakati. I wanted to hear of her experiences at Pakati & what it was like for her growing up there, and what she has done since.
So below are all 3 videos, starting with me interviewing her for Friends of Pakati
Prior to the visit Pauline had asked if we could meet & film an interview, so when I had a chance to go to Macheke, we decided during the brief time we had to interview each other!
This second film is Pauline asking me all about Friends of Pakati, fron how it started to what we were doing in Zimbabwe this time.
Here below is the film she put together & posted recently on a Whats App group & on facebook. We discussed & agreed the content of the commentary, so it has our approval as Friends of Pakati.
Welcome to this weeks blog -giving thanks to Scunthorpe United for their generosity & continued support for Friends of Pakati!
Today we highlight more of the donated items we delivered recently. Some of the schools have sent me more pictures & videos to share with you. My thanks go to the Heads & staff.
Pakati Primary school wearing the polo shirts given by Scunthorpe United FC
Head of Pakati Primary school Mr Mahachi (pictured with some students above) said he was “….very grateful to Scunthorpe United for the polo shirts ant the Coca-cola t-shirts”
Students at Mapanga Primary showing off the Coca-cola t-shirts, pictures courtesy of Head Mrs Maenzanise.
Mrs Maenzanise also wanted to “…thank Scunthorpe United for the t-shirts – the students love them!”
In the videos, they were thanking the Author (me) for bringing them to Zimbabwe, but it’s clear the club has a small but growing following in Ward 14 of Murewa District – also evidenced by the scarves “borrowed” from me by Mrs Maenzanise and local councillor Alderman Israel Maliki…
The pictures of football shirts given by the club are coming soon…here they are before we sent them over to Zimbabwe.
So a huge ‘THANK YOU!!!’ to Scunthorpe United, especially to COO Lee Turnbull, Neil Wright (Fan-Elected Director) & Glyn Sparks – now Marketing Manager, formerly club mascot Scunny Bunny, seen handing them over to me in August.
Friends of Pakati have just had a Zoom meeting this weekend, at which we discussed the following:
Consultancy Project recommendations including about the logo, website & social media presence, plus the Charity status
Fundraising ideas including onlne events & a Xmas market, plus new Merchandise ideas
plus one particularly bold idea – publishing the Friends if Pakati story!
As mentioned in a previous blog, we are taking a couple of weeks off from blogging in December to carry out some of the changes discussed in the Zoom meeting, looking to relaunch properly in the New Year!
We are going to talk about our vision, objectives for 2023, our online presence, fundraising, merchandise, and plans to visit Pakati in 2023
Once our zoom meeting has taken place we will publish a report of what is agreed, then put it to the Heads & other interested parties so we are together with our plans for the coming year.
In early December, Friends of Pakati is going to take a break from its regular updates. This will allow us to make any changes deemed necessary from our meetings. Hopefully we will return quickly with noticable improvements to what we do.
Coming soon are the two podcasts recorded with Pauline Machengo as we interviewed each other!
Pauline Machengo, former student at Pakati Primary school
Pauline is including herself interviewing me as part of a longer piece, but we have agreed to post them both here at Friends of Pakati. Both are currently being edited in preparation for publishing, hopefully next weekend.
We also have a number of other interviews recorded with people at Pakati Secondary school, including the Head Mr Chifaka, a couple of teachers and a couple of students. I am waiting for the OK from the school to publish them.
The Author talks to one of the staff at Pakati Secondary school
What’s this all about…?
Soon we will be announcing an interesting arrival for Friends of Pakati…keep watching this space!
After the successful trip to Zimbabwe in September/October, we need to keep things moving, changing & adapting, looking forward to next year and hopefully progress from our combined efforts.
Welcome to a fascinating blog today! Not least because it has an unexpected development towards the end, after the Podcast.
The Author meets Tinashe Pindura at Pakati Secondary school, September 2019
Let me introduce you to Tinashe Pindura, former Deputy Head & Teacher of English at Pakati Secondary school until fairly recently. She has been a great source of information, stories & images for us here at Friends of Pakati.
She has been on the blog before – check out these 2 posts from 2019:
So, onto the podcast…our 12th, introduced once more by our editor, Bradley Mell
Now, to record the podcast I had to travel to her school, Mukombami High school, between Juru Growth Point and Musami Cross, another rural school.
As we talked beforehand, she was asking me about working abroad…she had thought about the UK but she didn’t like the sound of our winters! She had heard about a different opportunity in Africa, and days later while I was visiting Pakati, she was busy applying.
I got a message on Whats App, and tried to encourage her…
….it worked! So on October 19th, she arrived in Kigali, capital of Rwanda.
Here is what she told me when I asked her about it alll. Here is the full report:
“Just saw a press release by the government of Rwanda and Zimbabwe advertising the need for trained personnel in different fields. The first time I brushed it off then my friend said we should give it a shot. I wasn’t too decided and kept on procrastinating then eventually applied. I remember highlighting to you that I wasn’t too sure if Rwanda was a good fit and u said it’s not bad. Eventually I got called to write a competence based exam which was really tough but I managed to sail through. After passing I got called for an interview via zoom.
The interview comprised of the Rwandan and Zimbabwean team with experts in my field. It went well leading to my leaving Zimbabwe on the 19th of October along with other Zimbabweans who had gotten job offers.
The flight was less than 3 hrs . On arrival at Kigali international Airport was surprised seeing a lot of aeroplanes belonging to Rwandair . I ddnt expect them to be that advanced considering it is still a developing economy. We got welcomed by the Zimbabwean ambassador to Rwanda which was a nice gesture. One thing I can say about Rwanda is that people there have a strong work ethic and they sure know how to keep the country clean.
Also got to eat fried and cooked bananas for the first time!”
Tinashe sent me a some photos, including her new accommodation which she shares with 2 other Zimbabwean women colleagues. She is now training Rwandan teachers in teaching English.
Tinashe’s view from her work in Rwanda
Friends of Pakati wishes Tinashe well in her new environment, so Pakati is spreading across the World! No doubt we will hear from her again with more stories, about life in Rwanda. Good luck!
Hi everyone! Thought it might be useful to guide you through exactly who we are behind the scenes.
Lots of information about Friends of Pakati is available – just follow the links!
Our new main headline photo is now shown across social media. Recently restored solar power paid for by Friends of Pakati has allowed the Secondary school to resume IT lessons after a long break.
Who We Are:
Chris Walker – former Maths Teacher & Acting Head, Pakati Secondary school
Bothwell Riside, former student at Pakati Primary & Pakati Secondary school, and
Lorraine Mapuranga, former student at Pakati Secondary school
Bothwell and Lorraine visited Pakati a week after I had come home. Bothwell was on a brief trip to his home area in Zimbabwe
Debbie Chadbon. Former Maths teacher at Pakati Secondary school
Stuart Pine. IT Manager at the Stephenson Group, Leeds – our principal IT donors
Bradley Mell, Podcast host & editor
Vari Mayez, Founder & CEO, Vatonatsa Foundation, our partner organisation based in Zimbabwe
Heads of Pakati schools:
Mugove Chifaka, Secondary
Ambrose Mahachi, Primary
We have many others who have contributed information, stories, pictures & videos. They are teachers at Pakati schools both past & present, many former students, local.community members, and last but lot least local politicians & dignatories. The contributors are based in many countries, including Zimbabwe, Botswana, Soith Africa, UK, and South East Asia.
After our recent hugely successful visit to both Pakati schools and the 3 others in Ward 14 of Murewa, the question now is, what do we as Friends of Pakati do next?
Great to meet the Head of Pakati Secondary school, Mr Chifaka, once again after 3 long years!
We recently posted about some of the things we could do seen here on our facebook page:
The above sets out what we would like to try & do, but not all of it is possible without a huge amount of effort & fundraising…which will be very difficult in the near future as the soaring cost of living worldwide limits what individuals & companies are willing or able to donate to charitable causes.
So that begs the next question – what can we do to maximise our fundraising?
Well, following our recent Consultancy Project with MBA students from the University of Huddersfield’s Business School, there are some good ideas to.help us try to attract more website visitors, social media folliwers, and ultimately, donors.
One of the key suggestions is a re-design of the website itself – friendsofpakati.com – definitely something I intend to look at very soon!
There will.be some changes & developments in our social medis presence, but also in areas such as fundraising & our merchandise.
So, the next question is – as a follower, donor, supporter – what do YOU think? Then a number of follow-up questions arise – What do YOU see as what our priorities should be? What do YOU want us to do to fundraise? How do YOU think we can improve our online presence?
Addressing the most important people for us – the students of Pakati schools
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
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…
Greetings everyone! Welcome to part 4, the final part of the events of my trip to Ward 14 of Murewa, which took me to both Chanetsa schools (Primary & Secondary) on the Thursday, and finally to Mapanga Primary on the Friday.
Prior to this trip, Friends of Pakati & our partners, VaTonatsa Foundation, had collaborated on a number of ventures, not least the Revision booklets during the Covid Pandemic. We produced them to help Grade 7 & Form 4 students – exam classes – but who to give them to?
Head of Chanetsa Secondary, Mr Mawedze, joined Friends of Pakati’s Lorraine Mapuranga as we visited their sister Primary school
Friends of Pakati support the Pakati schools, and VaTonatsa provide assistance to Mapanga. The issue then was – what about the Chanetsa schools? They are geographically between Pakati & Mapanga, in the same Ward 14. Historically students have moved between these 5 schools, & there are many family connections across the area. It seemed wrong to leave Chanetsa out.
Part of the welcome we had at Chanetsa Secondary school – a short video is further below in this post
All interested parties were contacted, key supporters of Friends of Pakati agreed, Alderman Maliki, local Councillor for the Ward agreed, VaTonatsa agreed. All 5 schools thus benefitted, and results turned put better than expected.
Friends of Pakati & VaTonatsa Foundation visit Mapanga Primary school
This year, again following extensive consultations, it became clear our funds would need to go to restoration of solar power to both Pakati schools. We had been donated a small number of laptops & some t-shirts, but the laptops were not suitable for learners, so it was agreed we should give them to the Heads to help school administration, and there were enough to include all 5 schools in the Ward. The t-shirts were sufficient to share also, at no cost to Friends of Pakati.
Here below is what happened when we handed over the donations to Chanetsa & Mapanga.
Chanetsa Secondary school
A very warm welcome was what greeted us on the Thursday morning!
We were shown around the school grounds, a small developing school which has strong links to Pakati schools.
Chanetsa Primary school
Here we were met with another lovely welcome!
They chose to give their students an early finish, as we handed over the donated items in front of the staff, School Development Committee members from both Chanetsa schools, and a number of parents too.
Here we can see how well they goods are receivef, by Mr Kadzimu, Head of Chanetsa Primary school:
Mapanga Primary School
Friday saw us visit Mapanga Primary school for the first time as we did for Chanetsa schools the day before.
Another amazing welcome came courtesy of the Head, Mrs Maenzanise!
We had a similar day to Pakati, if on a smaller scale. There were diistinguished guests including 2 local councillors, School Development Commitee members, village heads, staff, students & patents present.
We were treated to performances by students – poetry, drama & traditional dance – as well as several guest speakers. Here are some of the highlights:
Another great day in a very memorable week! This all brought my trip to all 5 schools in the Ward to an end – a week I will not forget in a hurry!
Many thanks to everyone concerned who organised the visits, the distinguishef guests, SDC’s, village Heads, all parents, staff & students at ALL 5 schools namely Chanetsa Primary, Chanetsa Secondary, Mapanga Primary, and of course, Pakati Primary and Pakati Secondary svhools.
Hi everyone! Welcome to the real high point of my trip to Pakati this year – the day we handed overour donations & celebrated restoring (solar) power to Pakati Secondary school.
With the promise to complete the same restoration at the Primary school as soon as possible, we went ahead with the planned event on Wednesday 28th September.
Traditional dancing by students of Pakati Secondary school was very popular with everyone – see more further down this post
Both Pakati schools had been preparing for this day for some time, with a full programme of events planned. Speeches, music, performance, dancing, & presentations.
We had a number of distinguished guests in attendance, including the MP for Murewa West, Hon. Jonah Sewera, local councillor for Ward 14 Alderman Israel Maliki & Dr Gurajena of Murewa Rural District Council. There were members of the School Development Committees, Heads, teachers & students and parents of both Pakati schools, visitors from other local schools & voluntary organisations. Oh, and Friends of Pakati of course!
MP Hon. Jonah Sewera in full flow giving his speech before having to head back to Parliament.
One of several short poems as part of the entertainmemt from Pakati Secondary school
We looked on as the students and other guests entertained us & spoke to us about the schools, local issues, and thanks for the work Friends of Pakati have been doing.
These two brothers, firstly from the Primary school, wowed the crowd with their rapping
The Primary school provided us with more entertainmemt, including a short play, seen below:
The highlight for many was the Traditional Dancing, very much a feature of Murewa area. Here is a short clip from the Secondary school studemts below:
As well as the MP, we had speeches from the local Council, Mr Gutu, Ward 14 Councillor Maliki, and Vari Mayez from our partner organisatiom VaTonatsa Foundation. Plus our very own representative Lorraine Mapuranga, and my good self! Here are some images & clips. Translating fot me was Secondary sxhool English teacher Mr Mundodzi.
Mr Gutu of Murewa Rural District Council
Alderman Maliki, Ward 14 Councillor
Vari Mayez of Vatonatsa Foundation
Lorraine Mapuranga of Friends of Pakati
Mr Walker being translated by Mr Mundodzi
The handover of donated goods – the main point of the visit – was the culmination of our efforts after being delayed by Covid.
Having handed over the sample laptop & t-shirt, it was then my turn to be on the receiving end unexpectedley – from Councillir Maliki & Vari Mayez
After final thanks & prayers for the donations & all who attended, everyone – including all students, parents, school staff, SDC members & distinguished guests were catered for with a late lunch. Before & after there were many photis being taken, just a few shown here:
A VERY successful.day for both Pakati schools & Friends of Pakati are DELIGHTED with the whole day! Thank you to ALL who contributed & attended👍
Day 4 & 5 to come in part 4… Friends of Pakati go to both Chanetsa Schools & Mapanga Primary for the first time!
We have so mamy videos of the programme, and soon we will put many of them out on our YouTube channel http://youtube.com/friendsofpakati We will let you know when they are up.