Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 – Outside Zim Borders

Following a few recent donations, I have decided to publish both chapters 4 and 5 together. There is still a lot more of this story to come…Pauline tells me it will be a no-holds-barred tale of a Zimbabwean living in South Africa, both the good and the bad. I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t wait to find out more!

OUTSIDE ZIM BORDERS

WRITTEN BY PAULINE MACHENGO

CHAPTER 4

“Vabereki tava kusvika paborder saka gadzirirai ma passport enyu (we are no arriving at the border please prepare your passports). I was awakened by the sound of the microphone when the bus assistant was informing us.

I yawned, stretching my hands wide hitting uncle’s face in the process. I did not apologize, and he just smiled at me. I took my passport out and held it firmly in my hands. I didn’t want to lose it especially this time we were approaching the border.

We arrived at Beitbridge border post at exactly 12 midnight. There were buses everywhere. Some where in a line facing the direction where we were coming from and some facing where we were going.

The bus came to a halt in front of this big building that I assumed was for Zimbabwe immigration association. The bus assistant instructed people to go and have their passports stamped as fast as they could.

“If you delayed out there you’re going to miss the bus.” Roared the assistant. Everyone hurried off the bus as if scared to ‘miss the bus’.

I got off and there were a lot of people around. Some were in a line, and I couldn’t tell which people were from my bus. l was now confused. It seemed as if people were mixed up from different buses. I stood there trying to figure out which line to join. I was now looking for uncle but he was nowhere to be seen.

I wanted to ask but my pride wouldn’t let me. I was a teacher in Zimbabwe and I used to figure out things on my own so I was going to figure out this.

I saw some other people coming out of the building and ran to make another line near our bus. I looked at those people boom there was uncle. He saw me and came straight to me.

“Did you manage to get your passport stamped out?” He asked checking my passport.
“No I answered trying to pull it from his hands. He hold it tightly and we just starred at each other.

He took my hand and pulled me towards the entrance. We skipped the line process and he left me near the counter where passports were stamped.

The lady who was stamping passports were just looking at your face and stamp the passport. They were very fast as if saying ‘you decided to leave the county so go’😄. I heard some people in the line complaining but I didn’t care uncle had everything under control. From there I vowed to follow him as his lap dog.

The whole area was so clear. There were a lot of lights illuminating the whole area. One could lost the needle and found it without any trouble.

The process was very long and tiresome given that we were standing in a line showing our passports to soldiers who where fully equipped with weapons.

We could go from this group of soldiers showing our particulars to another again. After that we waited for our bus which seemed to follow the same procedure as ours.

I checked the time it was now 2:00 am. I was now sleepy. I complained that I was tired to no one in particular.

” you’re tired? We are yet to do another process longer and more tiresome than this at the South African side” said another lady who was sitting not far from me.

The bus came and we got inside showing our passports again to the soldiers who were standing by the door.

As we were moving towards the South African side, I checked my phone for network it was gone. I was warned by uncle that the Zimbabwean network will be gone so I had to call my loved ones if I wanted to, so I did that. I called my mommy and my young sister. I tried to call Chris and he only said ‘Tashy I told you not to bother me’. Such a rude person.

My mind was so away that I missed the famous Limpopo river which divides Zimbabwe from South Africa. I cursed myself for that. I was really looking forward to see it but it didn’t happen.

We arrived at South African side and as usual the assistant barked his threatening instructions. This time he was among us. I was with uncle and everything was okay with me. I could see people giving me those nasty looks. They actually envied me. I was walking with a bodyguard. A well built one.

The process seemed to be taking long and one of the bus assistant which I came to know as Mike took our passports and got them stamped in right away.

“Now we are going to wait by the bus” said uncle taking my small bag from my hands.
The bus assistant had insisted that people should carry all their bags because the bus was going to be searched.

“So we are now getting into the bus?” I asked uncle.
“Not yet, we are going to have a boring process now” he said walking a little bit fast.
“What process?” I asked trying to keep the pace with him.

“They’re going to scan our bags, after that we are good to go. Let me buy you airtime do u have a South African sim card yet?”
“No” I answered in a rude way. Guys I was tired. I wanted to sleep. It was now 4am. I had never stayed this late before.

The scanning process was not that hard once u got inside. I watched my bag passing the machine and the person who was scanning was dozing. I took my bag and that lady snapped out of it. She looked at me and waved me off. I was happy because some people were asked to open their bags. I waited at the bus.

Uncle came and showed were the toilets were although I had not asked him. This guy!

Chapter 5

The heat from the blazing sun woke me up. My eyes were very sore inside their sockets. My neck was painful since I was leaning by the window. I had slept like that. I fully opened my eyes checking everywhere. I looked outside the window and it seemed as if I had missed again the tunnel just after Musina. I cursed myself for that. I checked uncle he was wide awake. That surprised me because the whole bus seemed to be sleeping.

“Where are we now?” I asked him whilst removing my jacket. I think I had passed out when we were at Musina. Uncle was telling his story about his first time in South Africa.
He was showing people the forests he walked dodging the border because he was a boder jumper. He had no papers.

“They slashed my hand with a Machete but kept on running whilst bleeding” he had said that when he was telling his story. Those Guma guma (who attack people who are border jumpers) were really terrible. I felt pity for him. I felt pity for those border jumpers. I had a better beginning than other people. I was privileged.

“Parents our first recess will be in Polokwani. Get ready we are only going to stop there for ten minutes. Those who want to buy food please do that because we are only going to give you food in Jo’burg. Thank you.”

This was Mike. Another assistant, at least this one was friendly. I took my toiletries just like other ladies were doing. I wasn’t confident with myself. I needed that half body bath.

We made our way to a nearest garage and it was long queue. The toilets were very nice and clean. I remember another lady asking me if I was the last on that queue in a language that only came to know later as Zulu. I panicked guys. I didn’t know that language barrier was going to be a problem like that.

I remember starring at that lady like a maniac. Another Zimbabwean lady came to my rescue. She answered that lady. God don’t tell me that I’m going to have this panics in Capetown. I finished my business and when I was passing by the grocery area I heard the till operators speaking in their language and I didn’t bother to buy anything. I was going to starve until we reach Jo’burg.

When I was approaching the bus from the garage I saw that nervous guy sitting by the door with nothing. He didn’t buy anything. Maybe he didn’t have the money or he was scared just like me. I was wondering. The way he was sitting reminded me of those students at school who could sit outside the class after the teacher chased them away because they didn’t have an exercise book.

I always feel pity for such kinda kids. Usually I would approach them and talk to them. Sometimes give them the books or money, but not always. I approached the guy with a smile. I was curious I wanted to hear his story.

“Nice weather huh?” I said with a smile
“Yeah, nice weather. I want to stretch my legs they’re now painful”. He complained.

” Oh yeah, you should walk around the bus 5 times or jog” I joked. “Hahaha that will be crazy” He laughed exposing his fine teeth that could have been a killer to ladies if brushed.

“I’m Tashy” I said that extending my hand for a handshake.
“Tinashe” he took my hand and hold it longer than a normal handshake.

” nice meeting you” I said that pulling my hand. “Sure” he said that looking a little bit embarrassed.

Uncle came. He was holding a yoghurt, juice and pies. People filed back into the bus and we waited for the driver. He gave me the food. I was happy. I told I couldn’t buy because I was scared of the language.

He laughed saying that I should brace myself for people in Capetown. “Xhosa’s loves their language “he said that sipping his juice.

That got me worried. I comforted myself and started enjoying my meal. The bus were now going and I realised that Tinashe was really not eating anything.

I whispered to uncle and he said I should give him if I want. I told him I wasn’t gonna embarrass myself like that if he happen to turn down my offer. Uncle took a pie and the juice he was drinking and gave Tinashe. Surprisingly he didn’t decline the offer, he was actually happy.

My phone rang. I checked the caller it was my sister’s number. The one in Capetown. I had called her with my new number when we were still at the border.

“Hello” I answered the call. “Hey mainini (aunty) it’s me Audrey where are you now?” That was my niece. My sister’s first born. She was 7 years by then. A very clever girl.

“Hi Audrey I’m still far my sweet. We will arrive tomorrow morning” I informed her. “Oh okay. Tell me did you buy MacDonalds or KFC? You should try Macdonald burgers they are great. Dad brought them last night.”

“Audrey! What are you doing with my phone !” My sister’s voice said that in the background and I hanged up. I laughed! This girl had landed herself in trouble by trying to reach out for me. I couldn’t wait to meet them all. All three of them. I smiled thinking what they were going to do when they meet me.

We arrived in Jo’burg at exactly 3 pm on the dot. We got out of the bus and we were given food. People had yo choose between pap (maize staple food – sadza in Zim) and chicken or pap and beef. I chose beef. I ate my food in silence. I was overwhelmed by the way Jo’burg was built. The infrastructure were so breathtaking. When we were approaching this stop almost everyone’s eyes were wondering outside the bus. I believed that those who were newbies to South Africa just like me were amazed.

We saw hundreds of trains parked parallel to each other. I couldn’t wait to board one. I had lastly boarded a train when I was only five years old. Me and my mother were going to Shurugwi. We tool the train from Harare to Gweru. My Mom was still carrying me on her back. I don’t have much memory about boarding a train so this time I was going to experience it.

We departed from Jo’burg after an hour and we started another long journey to Capetown. I noticed that some people left in Jo’burg. The bus was no longer full.

We only traveled for an hour and we had a breakdown. I was so disappointed and scared. People were saying a lot of things. Some were saying we might get robbed others were saying we will wait for another bus from Capetown. The robbing part got me scared to death. I had heard stories of people getting hijacked whilst travelling to Zimbabwe. The idea of being robbed alone was enough to get me puzzled.

We were now in Kroonstad not far from Bloemfontein when that breakdown happened. I had felt some vibration coming under the bus. There was also a loud clunking noise whenever the driver tries to accelerate. That was a common symptom of a failing drive shaft. I knew these things. I once owned a car that I sold day before my departure. My father had taught me a lot about those cars. I had never slept outside because of a breakdown. I would always find a way to fix the problem if its minor. But this problem of our bus seemed to be a major one. The propeller shaft had been broken.

Uncle helped the bus mechanic to remove the propeller shaft. They carried it to the nearest farm and we left by the bus scaring each other. The N1 road is so busy that all the time the cars will be passing by. N1 is a road that stretches from Beitbridge to Capetown. Part of the once-planned Cape to Cairo route. It is a four lane road going in each direction. Its a very beautiful road.

We resumed our journey at 8 pm. Everyone was now tired and sleepy. I couldn’t sleep. Anxiety was killing me because was it still making those nocking sounds. I was now gripping the seats with both my hands in fear of having an accident.

I was imagining falling down from such height of the bus to the group. Few people or no one was going to survive that. Uncle was sleeping but when he woke up he saw me holding the seat so tight and he asked me if I was alright. I told him my fears and he laughed so hard.

One thing about uncle he was a good laugher. Every time he talks he could laugh like he has nothing to worry about. “If the accident is going to happen it will happen whether you’re holding the seat or not. If I were you I would sleep it off.” He said that and went back to sleep.

Many thanks to Pauline for allowing Friends of Pakati to publish her story here on the blog. I know already that she has more stories to tell, so keep looking out as we publish more from her as she forwards her tales to me.

Update on the prvious blog post

As followers of this blog already know, we are collaborating with VaTonatsa Foundation, to provide support to exam students at 5 schools in the area around Pakati, known as Ward 14 of Murewa District. The next blog will have updates on the progress of the initiative, as the Heads have sent material to VaTonatsa for them to edit into packs for those students. An exciting time to be involved with Friends of Pakati!

Friends of Pakati and VaTonatsa Foundation welcome Chanetsa schools on board!

**Breaking News**

Following discussions between Friends of Pakati, VaTonatsa Foundation, the Heads of both Pakati schools and of Mapanga Primary, plus Councillor Israel Maliki, we are all delighted to welcome both Chanetsa schools – Primary and Secondary – to share in the assistance being given to exam class students by the two philanthropic organisations. Below is the full story behind it all, including the rough costs involved.

30 years ago when I was teaching at Pakati Secondary school, Chanetsa Primary school was one of the main feeder Primary schools, and I remember one student in particuler from the area – Gift Chanetsa – who was a fine young man, a prefect, a great ambassador for Pakati, and a sportsman. He would run to school, maybe 5 or 6 km, then in the afternoon during athletics would run 10km, then run back home! He proudly represented the school as far as Provincial level. Until recent years, there was no Secondary school at Chanetsa, and it is still developing. At present, students at Chanetsa Secondary write their exams at Pakati, they are widely considered as a sister school to Pakati, as told to me by Mr Chifaka in 2018 when I revisited the school.

As the idea for our collaboration came about from discussions with Vari Mayez, the founder of VaTonatsa Foundation, it was clear to me that the proposal to help our exam students (who may be missing out due to the temporary closure of schools across Zimbabwe) would fit in very well with the vision set out here: https://friendsofpakati.com/2020-vision-friends-of-pakati-the-project-continues/ so it was easy to agree. We at Friends of Pakati are concerned with 2 schools, and VaTonatsa have a particular interest in Mapanga Primary. A 2:1 split on costs seems fair. More about the costs further down this blog post.

All 3 schools sit in Ward 14 of Murewa District, and as such are represented by their Councillor, Israel Maliki. He is keen to see schools in his Ward develop, and has provided much support to both organisations to enable such development to take place. The addition of Chanetsa to this initiative is very much appreciated by him: “….The inclusion of both Chanetsa schools in that program is one of your best deeds….”

In a previous post I outlined the discussions which brought about this joint venture – see https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/05/28/friends-of-pakati-and-vatonatsa-foundation-working-together-to-help-students-in-3-rural-schools/ but here is the version sent to me by Vari of VaTonatsa earlier this week:

“As shared some months back here on friendsofpakati.com, our partnership with Friends of Pakati and its founder Chris Walker (a former teacher at Pakati Secondary school) started in September 2019, when Chris came to donate some computers and sports wear. We as Vatonatsa Foundation felt it was important to attend the event upon the invitation of Councillor Maliki, a man I describe as hardworking and unifying. We felt that as philanthropists it was important to show support to the work that Chris had started at Pakati in Murewa Ward 14. My friend Holly Mahere (who is also a philanthropist) attended the event and that is how our relationship was born.

Fast forward to present the day, Friends of Pakati and Vatonatsa have established a powerful partnership, so this year we saw it fit to work together to harness the power /synergies that come with cooperation. The COVID19 pandemic has affected the whole world in lots of ways. Education has not been spared, but thanks to technology some parts of the world have come up with solutions such as online learning, to enable learners adhere to requirements for social distancing to minimise spread of COVID19. With reference to Zimbabwe, approximately 55% of students have started learning online while the other 45% percent are unable to do so due to lack of resources for the same. 80% of those are in rural areas where technological resources are still limited that is why we agreed to do the Rural Lockdown Campaign to enable rural students to learn as we wait for more initiatives from the relevant ministry to be fully implemented.Our goal is to give the students hard copy materials so they can read at home. We also hope that if we get more funding we can give them solar lights so they can also study at night to catch up. We are currently targeting assisting exam classes as they are most in need at this time.”

The addition of Chanetsa Primary and Secondary schools has been widely welcomed, as typified by the following comments:

Mr Chifaka, Head of Pakati Secondary said “…Chanetsa Sec still writes exams at Pakati. It’s good to include them, l will contact the Head about it…”

Bothwell Riside, former Pakati student and very good friend of Pakati said “…there is nothing bad in assisting other schools…it is good for local rural development…”

Lorraine Mapuranga, another former Pakati student and close friend of Pakati said “…Good arrangement..these schools are like family. You can’t leave your neighbour hungry. You share the little that you have. Well done for the inclusion of Chanetsa schools in your programme…”

The cost of printing the individual exam/test/revision packs for the schools breaks down to aproximately US$120 per school, a total of 5 schools = US$600. It was agreed that the cost would be split between Friends of Pakati and VaTonatsa Foundation in the ratio if 2:1 (you can tell the Author was a Maths teacher before!) meaning US$400 (FoP) and US$200 (VF), although VaTonatsa will do the actual printing and deliery to all schools.

Thanks to Mr Kadzimu, Head of Chanetsa Primary school for the following information and photos:

“Here at Chanetsa Primary school, in Grade 7 enrolment we have 60 candidates (19 boys, 41 girls), and the total enrolment for the School is 826 learners (399 boys and 427 girls) The school was opened in 1921. Our link to Pakati is by road via Jacobo township (about 2.5km). After Grade 7 our learners mostly go to Shamu Sec 5km away, Pakati Sec 9km away, and Chanetsa Sec 5km away. Some go to boarding schools like St Pauls, Murewa High and Nyahuni Mission.

Chanetsa Secomdary school Head, Mr Mawedze, was kind enough to send us the following photos and information about the school:

“The above are Chanetsa Secondary school buildings, and it is a satelite of Pakati secondary school. It was opened year 2010 under the Headship of Mrs Chingoriwo, who is currently the senior teacher at Pakati Secondary school. Chanetsa Secondary has one complete block with two classrooms and two teacher’s houses. The second block is stil under construction, and is funded by council with great support from our ward 14 councilor mr Israel Maliki. It should be finished by the end of the year. Chanetsa has an enrolment of 153 learners, 36 of which are exam students this year. They continue to write their Zimsec exams at Pakati Secondary. Our feeder schools are Chenatsa Primary school and Mapanga Primary school. “

In the temporary absence of Head Mrs Maenzanise due to sickness, Deputy Head Mr Vhuso kindly sent the following photos and information:

“There are 55 students in Grade 7 at Mapanga Primary school who are due to write their exams this year.”

Mr Mahachi, Head of Pakati Primary school, tells us there are 78 candidates for the Grade 7 students this year.

Last but by no means least, Mr Chifaka, Head of Pakati Secondary school informs us that there are 45 O level (ZimSec) candidates in 2020.

So, to sum up, Friends of Pakati and VaTonatsa Foundation will be helping 193 Grade 7 students at 3 Primary schools, and 81 O level students at 2 Secondary schools. 274 students in 5 schools. The beauty of this is, apart from those 274, the packs should help students in the 5 schools for some time to come if the packs are looked after. I believe this will be US$400 well spent, an investment in those schools and communities.

**very latest on fundraising**

Thanks to recent donations our current total stands at £600, the most recent one coming from fellow-former teacher at Pakati Secondary, Debbie Chadbon! Thank you Debbie as it helps us to meet our objectives here at Friends of Pakati. As the initiative outlined above will deplete our funds, then if anyone here or anyone you know is willing to give a donation, small or large, then please do so via either the paypal links on this site, or via http://gofundme.com/friends-of-pakati

More stories, photos, profiles, interviews, news still to come…

chapter 3 – Outside Zim Borders

OUTSIDE ZIM BORDERS

WRITTEN BY PAULINE MACHENGO
CHAPTER 3

Edited by Chris Walker

‘Go well my daughter, may the Holy Spirit be with you throughout your journey’.

My pastor’s words were echoing in my ears like sea waves. I was therefore assured that my journey was going to be a safe one. I wasn’t scared of anything.

I was now sitting on my seat number 27 😄😄 I still remember that. It was a three seater well I regretted buying a seat like that. How was I going to spend three days squeezing with people on that little seat? I checked above and saw a charging port. Well that was better at least the journey was not going to be boring plus that dude I had a dream about. I smiled to myself.

People were getting in the bus. Everyone was checking their seat number and took their seats. For now I was still alone and I prayed for that guy to join me only.

As I was looking at the door, I saw this man – a well built man making his way into the bus. He checked his ticket and walk straight to my direction. I was praying in my mind that he will not be my seatmate. I saw him checking my seat and his ticket then he looked at my pulled face. He smiled at me and I just stared at him with an angry face. He proceeded to an empty seat opposite mine and he sat there.

I released the air I was holding. At least he wasn’t my seatmate. I was not going to spend a three day journey with someone so old like him. The man was so well built for his age. He had a nice body. He was maybe in his early forties. Who in her right mind could enjoy sit with that uncle? Not me.

I continued watching people getting inside the bus hoping for a miracle to come but with no luck. A lot of people were putting blankets into the shelves and I was wondering why. I had left mine in the bus boot, and I only got inside with a small bag that had my toiletries, travelling documents and a small blanket that my mother insisted that I should carry. I had R300 for food and I felt it was enough since I don’t have a tendency of eating whilst traveling.

My mind drifted back to my home. Chris had refused to watch me leaving. He had told me that I should not even bother to call him. I was missing him already. But he had ended things with me😭😭. I snapped out of my thoughts as a voice shouted at me.

“Sisi tati tipei R10 ye gate pass kana musingade moburuka mozokwirira panze kuna fourth uko” (Sister give us R10 to get a pass if you don’t have you can go out and board the bus at fourth taxi rank)

I assumed this was the bus assistant or who ever he was I didn’t care but why was he rude. I took out the R10 and gave him and he proceeded to the next seat. As I was closing my bag another voice roared in my ears.

“Sister this is my seat so can you put your bag there so that I can seat” That uncle was there right in my face. So my prayers were not answered😭😭. Why?. “Askana zvandichato donha imi makangondi yeva” ( what if I fall down whilst you’re staring at me)

“Sorry” I said that removing my bag not even trying to hide the irritation on my face.
The bus was now making its way out of the port – it was peak hour so the bus was moving slowly.

We were now at corner Robert Mugabe Street and Fourth Street robots (traffic lights) when this other guy boarded the bus. He was breathing profusely. He might have been running from the Roadport terminus. He nearly missed the bus. I wonder where was he all along or maybe he didn’t want to pay the gate pass. I giggled to myself.

Uncle gave me a look and shook his head. He might have thought that I’m some kinda lunatic. To hell with his thoughts. That wasn’t going to stop me from going to Cape Town.

That guy who entered the bus was now sitting right opposite to us and he was looking so nervous. He was wearing a black T shirt , a pair of jeans and some pushers. He didn’t have a jacket.

I saw this man (uncle) sitting with me looking at that guy.

“Mukoma makuenda Ku Cape Town hahaha, welcome to Cape Town mukoma. Apa hamuna kana henyu juzi” (Brother you’re now going to Cape Town, welcome to Cape Town. And you don’t even have a jacket)…he said that whilst laughing…🙄such a stupid man. This journey was going to be long and boring…

Much more to come…already chapters 4 and 5 are in my possession ready to be edited…thanks to the recent donations I am going to publish them in the coming days along with any other news on all things Pakati.

It seems clear that exam classes will return across Zimbabwe, but still unclear precisely when, though I am waiting for updates from my contacts in the area on preparations. In the meantime, please see https://www.facebook.com/2258900347689003/posts/2665646133681087/ here is what is going on with Friends of Pakati and VaTonatsa Foundation – full details to come about what is being done and what it costs. We are delighted with the collaboration.

Friends of Pakati and VaTonatsa Foundation – working together to help students in 3 rural schools

As I have been saying in recent posts, such as https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/05/25/interesting-developments-at-friends-of-pakati/ Friends of Pakati have agreed to collaborate with the local philanthropic organisation, VaTonatsa Foundation, whenever it is appropriate.

Our first joint venture is to try and help students at both Pakati schools – Primary and Secondary – and at nearby Mapanga Primary school. We are concentrating on their exam classes as previously mentioned, Grade 7’s at the two Primaries and Form 4’s at Pakati Secondary. Here is some of the story behind it all…

From a recent post.. https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/05/21/follow-up-to-the-plea-in-the-previous-post/ below is the transcript of an audio message sent to me, which I sent to the Heads of both Pakati schools:

“Private schools and Public schools in urban areas have started teaching online, so the challenge is (to help) rural kids, they have no way of learning online. Their teachers may have challenges of data/airtime expenses, and also because of social distancing its difficult for the children to come to the schools to maybe download some of the lessons that the teacher would want to share with them. So because of these challenges, we were thinking – I was talking to Mrs Maenzanise (Head of Mapanga Primary in the same Ward 14 area of Murewa) – suggesting that they need to set some exams/tests, then we (VaTonatsa) facilitate the printing of those study materials. We then go through the village heads for them to distribute to their students. So we will wait for the Minustry of Education to tell us the opening dates for the exam classes (Primary Grade 7, Secondary Form 4). We are hoping for a delay as this will help the students in the meantime, so that they can study from their homes…..So because of these challenges, we were thinking – I was talking to Mrs Maenzanise (Head of Mapanga Primary in the same Ward 14 area of Murewa) – suggesting that they need to set some exams/tests, then we (VaTonatsa) facilitate the printing of those study materials. We then go through the village heads for them to distribute to their students. So we will wait for the Minustry of Education to tell us the opening dates for the exam classes (Primary Grade 7, Secondary Form 4). We are hoping for a delay as this will help the students in the meantime, so that they can study from their homes.”

Local councillor Israel Maliki agreed with the idea, but had this to say… “I agree with the idea from Vari, I only differ on the modalities for the distribution of the papers, as it might be better to use the SDC’s (School Development Committee members) rather than the village heads.”

Below are some of the responses:

[20/05, 19:18] Chifaka Mugove: Hi Chris. I think it is a good idea. I think you should include a caption asking for stakeholders’ opinions. Some other useful ideas may also come up from them. I will also analyse the audio and give my own opinion.
[20/05, 19:19] 610909: thanks Mugove, I am doing that already with other regular contributors. am hoping something from a donor or two.
[25/05, 10:00] 610909: I got this from Vari Mayez of VaTonatsa… can you advise accordingly please?

We discussed with Mapanga and they said they can give us past exam papers to print so what we need is to buy bond papers and print and toner cartridges
At Mapanga we are working with 55 kids and then we see number three of papers needed

So as we partner at Pakati you need to ask the following:
How many grade 7s are there and can the school share soft copies that we can print.
I know FoP is interested in Pakati only so we can partner on the grade 7s and then you can do a solo on the form 4s so we balance
[25/05, 11:01] Mahachi: Its a welcome idea we have several past exam papers we can share. We are interested we have 78 grade 7 candidates.
[25/05, 11:01] Mahachi: We have a printer and a photocopier also what we need also is 2 toners and bond paper. We looked to quatations for the toner before closing and it was ranging between 70 and 100 us so we failed to purchase otherwise its a welcome idea.
[25/05, 11:20] Chifaka Mugove: Hie guys. It’s a good idea. We have 45 O level candidates. We face the same challenges as stated by Mr Mahachi. Our printer needs to be repaired.
[25/05, 19:10] Mahachi: Her idea is splindid she can carry on. However I can send you or her the exam papers I have in one folder through whatsapp or email.

This from Mr Chifaka too: “For Pakati secondary the assistance required is printing materials (bond paper and toner) which can be used after subject teachers provide their soft copies of exams.”

If anyone would like to help by donating goods, please contact the (Zimbabwe) phone numbers or email addresses shown in the flier above. If you would like to donate money, please do so either by the PayPal account shown on the side and foot of this post (in US$’s) or through http://gofundme.com/friends-of-pakati (in GB£’s).

Thank you👍👍

Just to let you know, chapter 3 of Pauline Machengo’s longer story, ‘Outside Zim Borders’, will be published over the weekend. I am also promised another profile of a former Pakati student, someone whose family lives close to the Secondary school. I am always looking forward to hearing from former students and staff, as I hope to compile a number of these stories into an inspiration for present students.

Interesting developments at Friends of Pakati…

A number of things are cropping up that I wish too report to you, the friends of Pakati.

Fundraising

I have received notification today that one of our supporters, Mortz Property Services http://mortzproperty.co.uk based in Scunthorpe, are planning to donate a significant sum to Friends of Pakati in the very near future. Mortz Property Service is owned and run by Roj Rahman, a well known businessman in Scunthorpe, and like the Author, a lifelong supporter of Scunthorpe United.

In addition, I have added a donate button here on the website for people to donate using PayPal, a new account having been recently set up. It is open for donations in bundles of US$5, with no limit to how much can be donated at one time. The http://gofundme.com/friends-of-pakati remains open too.

Collaboration or Co-operation

Holly (with VaTonatsa), Bothwell (Friend of Pakati), Councillor Israel Maliki, the Author, and Vari (VaTonatsa) at Pakati, September 2019

Call it what you will, but I am very pleased to report that Friends of Pakati is working with Vatonatsa Foundation behind the scenes, to try and support learners in the exam year groups at both Pakati Primary and Secondary schools, and at Mapanga Primary school. All are located in Ward 14 of Murewa District. This is now taking shape, and we hope to formally announce it this week as to exactly how it will work. I am in touch with both Pakati schools, while Vari Mayez of Vatonatsa is in touch with Mapanga. There is a benefit to such a situation, sharing of ideas and resources, including the support our two organisations can offer. This will help students in Grade 7 (Primary) and Form 4 (Secondary) at these schools, regardless of whether or not they will be reopening soon or not – see below.

Schools to open in Zimbabwe?

Discussions in Zimbabwe between the government and teachers unions appear to match some of those currently going on in the UK. Similar phased returns are being mooted, though in Zimbabwe the emphasis is more on exam year groups – Grade 7 in Primary schools, Form 4 in Secondary schools – but with other year groups returning in a staggered approach – see the locally reported situation below:

GOVERNMENT is working on downsizing the teacher to pupil ratio to create an optimal environment to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in schools. Currently, the teacher-pupil ratio stands at 1:70. Speaking at the launch of PPEs production for schools in Masvingo on Thursday, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Ambassador Cain Mathema said the Government was reviewing down the ratio to 1:30. He added that plans are underway to build at least 3 000 new schools and recruitment of more teaching staff to make this vision a success.

“We currently have 9 600 schools which are overwhelmed with 136 000 pupils in the country. The nation has a cumulative total of 4,6 million pupils in schools. Recruitment of more teachers and building of 3000 more schools would, therefore, reduce the teacher-pupil ratio to a manageable 1:30, said Minister Mathema. “This will guarantee smooth learning and social distancing for COVID-19 fight in line with World Health Organisation(WHO) standards,” said Minister Mathema.

He said they would soon request for funding from Treasury for both recruitments of teachers and building of infrastructure. “We have over 12 000 trained teachers who are unemployed, and we want all of them to be recruited,” said the Minister, who also said Government was yet come up with the exact dates to open schools.

However, there is a debate going on about when and how this might happen which is familiar to the Author here in the UK…

The Ministry was seized with opening of schools in the next 3 weeks, (around 22 June 2020) but Unions felt that it was not prudent to do that so early, given that we are getting into June, which is the coldest and most risky month, and also given that it has the conditions necessary for the virus to thrive, with highest chance of contraction of the virus by every Zimbabwean, school children included. So to the Unions, June is not the best month and time for us to consider opening of schools. A lot more needs to be done as contained in our earlier joint communique as Unions to the Ministry. What we need in place are safety nets and measures first, that give us the assurance that the safety of teachers and children is guaranteed. We indicated to the Minister that we do not want to lose any single teacher to the virus, given that no record of contracting the corona virus was registered ever since the beginning of the lockdown. Life is sacrosanct, and we cant be reckless.

Social media is awash with news that schools will open on the 22nd of June,which is a figment of their imagination but Unions have agreed with the Minister and Permanent Secretary that its too early to come up with a specific date for the reopening of schools.
Lastly, Unions also disagreed with the Association of Trust Schools which were pushing for schools to open sooner, arguing that they have enough of the requirements as demanded by Health officials to enable them to reopen schools. However, Unions felt that was too discriminatory to learners, with the view that if schools were closed on the same day, it affected every student at the same time. This should mean that Schools should also open on the same day so that it does not disadvantage other learners (fair and equal treatment). We defended the one size fits all approach in this regard, and we are happy we had the Minister and Permanent Secretary on our side as Unions. It seems we are still far from opening Schools, given that we have a life to protect. More haste less speed.

The planned phased return of schools is reported to inlcude Form 3 and Grades 5 and 6, then Form 2 along with Grades 3 and 4, before full reopening within a few weeks, including lastly the return of Early Childhood Development (ECD) classes. All of this is intended to be made possible by supplies of PPE for teachers and learners, appropriate furniture and smaller class sizes. A large expansion of the number of teachers and school buildings is being planned.

How soon will images like this be possible once more?

I wish for the safe return of all pupils and staff at all schools, across Zimbabwe, across the UK, across the World.

Outside Zim Borders Chapter 2….

As promised, following a donation to http://gofundme.com/friends-of-pakati below is the next part of the story first told on here https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/05/10/chapter-one-of-outside-zim-borders-a-much-longer-story-from-pauline-machengo/

OK, here is Chapter 2 of the story…..

Outside Zim Borders

Written by Pauline Machengo

Chapter 2

After checking my tickets I looked for my passport. Everything was in place. Tomorrow I was hitting the road. Honestly I was having mixed feelings about this whole thing. Worst I was now feeling so cold. Why was I feeling so cold. Oh Okay so Chris had left my door wide open. This guy is something else. He broke up with me now he left my door open. Well I closed my door, I had a lot of energy unlike other days. Guys if you have a big journey ahead of you, you will not sleep am I lying?.

Although I was having insomnia, I had to sleep in time. Tomorrow I was supposed to see my Pastor before I go. Journeys like these needs spiritual escorts. You don’t just go without engaging the Holy Spirit. Guys I’m a Christian okay. I believe in praying.

I was about to sleep when suddenly I remembered something. Although I was safe in my house, I was not going to sleep without my passport and bus ticket right besides me. Guys I mean Chris could come and take them since he has some keys to my apartment. I wasn’t going to trust him given that we had a fight and he was totally opposed to the idea of me going to South Africa. I was not going to take any chances so I took my travelling documents and put them right under my pillow. I said a little prayer and closed my eyes letting the nature take me to dreamland where I was going to have a vision of my journey.

THE BUS was idling, ready to go. Its head was already facing the exit gates of Roadport (coach terminal in Harare). I was sitting by the window craning my neck in order to have a clear view of the Forth Street taxi rank. Eagle Liner buses are so high that you can see people walking around like ants. The view was so perfect. I was smiling like nobody’s business. Finally I was on my way to Cape Town. Goodbye Zimbabwe!

“Excuse me sister can I sit there?” Said a handsome guy carrying some sets of headphones and an iPad. I locked my eyes with his and I couldn’t move or say anything. I was hypnotized. The handsomeness of this dude was not doing any justice to me. I started imagining my journey to Cape Town sitting next to this perfect soul. OMG is he smiling at me?. I licked my lips, they were already wet. I was literary drooling over this guy.

“Can I sit please?.” He repeated again.
“Sure, you can sit”
Jeez what was I thinking. What if he changed his mind and took another seat. Eish I’m so disappointed in myself.
“Sure !” I said it loudly again

“Sure what?” Okay, I know this voice. Please don’t tell me its Chris. I opened my eyes only to realise that I was sleeping on my bed in my room. Really now. Why, where is the handsome guy now?and what is this guy doing in my house at this hour.

“So you’re now talking in your sleep?” Chris asked me.
“I did not talk!” I said that reaching for my pillow to make sure that this ex lover didn’t tamper with my traveling documents. See guys I told you Chris can get in my house anytime. Imagine if I had left my passport in my bags. My instincts are always correct. They had never and will never fail me.

“Why are you shouting?” He asked eying me.
“I did not talk, why did you pour water on my face Chris?”
Okay my pillows were wet and it seemed as if when I was licking my lips in my dreams I and was leaking the sweat that was on my face.

“Hahaha and you liked it. You were smiling” he said that mocking me.

“What are you doing in my house?” I asked him with a straight face.

“Came to see if you had gone already” he answered whilst checking my bags.

“I need my car reg book” I said
“For what?” He asked
“I sold the car yesterday. I need to surrender the book”

l was now making my bed. ” You did what?”

Chris can be so hard at times. He bought me this car as a birthday present and it was in my name so now I was telling him that I sold it and he is reacting like its a big deal.
“I sold it” I repeated my system.

“But why Tashy?, so you’re trying to destroy everything that is attached to us. Are you not coming back?, what if things don’t go well there in South Africa are you not gonna use it when you come back?”.

“Nothing will go wrong, I’m not gonna come back anytime soon because you broke up with me. Lastly the car is mine and I can do whatever I want with it so please can I have the book”

“Fine Tashy, you can come and take it. I’m leaving. Have a safe journey” he banged my door and left .

Sometimes I feel like Chris lacked real discipline. He’s the only child of his parents so he’s a spoiled brat. He needs someone to tell him to behave. As for me I have a journey to prepare for. I couldn’t see why he could not understand. Guys its my car and no one must have a say on it. This Chris dude was trying to ruin my traveling day just like he did to my nice dreams. 😀😀😀Okay enough of this Chris.

Speaking of my dreams, I was now wondering if it was going to come true. Dreams have a tendency of lying especially mine. I don’t trust my dreams but I was praying for it to come true.

I bathed and after changing into decent clothes I took my car keys and left for my Pastor’s house. I was leaving for South Africa that same day at 6pm …

MUCH more still to come in this extraordinary tale!

Pauline has already sent me chapters 3 and 4, so I will spend a little time editing them, but please, if you wish to read more, then donate to the cause… http://gofundme.com/friends-of-pakati – and help the schools at Pakati provide a good education for their students. To find out what we are trying to do to help, see the following recent posts:

https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/05/08/whats-happening-at-friends-of-pakati/

https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/05/17/a-plea-for-help-in-these-unusual-times/

https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/05/21/follow-up-to-the-plea-in-the-previous-post/

Thank you👍

Follow up to the plea in the previous post..

The previous post was https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/05/17/a-plea-for-help-in-these-unusual-times/ and it has generated some discussion…

Well, now a new and interesting proposal has been sent to me by Vari Mayez – see previous post https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/04/25/saturday-star-vari-mayez-a-friend-of-pakati-under-lockdown-in-harare/ – of VaTonatsa Foundation, an organisation I am more than happy to collaborate with.

Such co-operation is already being welcomed by friends of Pakati, and was mentioned in another prior post – https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/05/08/whats-happening-at-friends-of-pakati/ – so I am.now waiting to hear more from Vari as she finds out if its is a feasable idea. Let me explain.

Here is the first part of a recent chat/conversatiom: “….we (VaTonatsa) are working on a programme to assist rural exam kids with study material because those in private schools have resumed learning already”. There are echoes with things which are happening in the UK, where it is widely thought that students/pupils from less advantaged backgrounds are likely to fall behind their better off peers. In Zimbabwe, that is even more acute for students in the rural areas. In a an audio message to me, Vari had this to say:

“Private schools and Public schools in urban areas have started teaching online, so the challenge is (to help) rural kids, they have no way of learning online. Their teachers may have challenges of data/airtime expenses, and also because of social distancing its difficult for the children to come to the schools to maybe download some of the lessons that the teacher would want to share with them.

So because of these challenges, we were thinking – I was talking to Mrs Maenzanise (Head of Mapanga Primary in the same Ward 14 area of Murewa) – suggesting that they need to set some exams/tests, then we (VaTonatsa) facilitate the printing of those study materials. We then go through the village heads for them to distribute to their students. So we will wait for the Minustry of Education to tell us the opening dates for the exam classes (Primary Grade 7, Secondary Form 4). We are hoping for a delay as this will help the students in the meantime, so that they can study from their homes.

We also want to facilitate solar lights so that the children can have lighting to study at their homes so that they can catch up.

I also wanted to suggest to you…if Friends of Pakati could chip in, we could also partner to help the children at Pakati as well to just print, so the teachers will set the papers, and what we help with is buying a cartridge and paper for the course, then we will print. The teachers will then collect the papers…and get them delivered to the village heads. Then the children can get them from their village heads (and study on their own homes). That is our idea.”

VaTonatsa in action

What do you, dear Friends of Pakati, think? Personally, I would love to get Pakati on board with this plan, and maybe others of a similar nature. Although it is not exactly as laid out in the 2020 vision – see https://friendsofpakati.com/2020-vision-friends-of-pakati-the-project-continues/ – it can be stretched I think in these very unusual times. I have already heard from interested parties in support of this idea, including the Head of Pakati Secondary school Mr Mugove Chifaka and regular contributor/former student at Pakati Lorraine Mapuranga.

I have to ask though – would anyone like /be willing to add some funds to help? Large or small, every donation is always welcome, as it all adds up by going into the same pot, which has the ultimate purpose of helping the students of both Pakati schools. Thank you so much👍

A plea for help in these unusual times…

Friends of Pakati is in an unusual position riight now. We have a small amount in the bank (£280, or approx. US$335), but due to the current global pandemic causing various lockdowns, fundraising activities have ground to a halt. However, things have just been starting to ease up a little, though its too early to say what the effects might be, and of course the fundraising page is open 24/7…

Pakati Secondary school during lockdown, still closed for now

The reality is that we are going to need a lot more money to meet our ambitious aims for this coming year. See https://friendsofpakati.com/2020-vision-friends-of-pakati-the-project-continues/ for full details, although this will also be the vision well into 2021. As Friends of Pakati develops into a more formal entity, then the intention is to broaden its scope. Some of this has been mentioned already in a recent post, https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/05/08/whats-happening-at-friends-of-pakati/ where there is talk about collaboration. What is also possible, if funds allow, is to develop a scheme to try and help some of the poorest students gain access to education. Help with things like fees, uniforms and equipment, or possibly income-generating projects to help such families provide for them.

Below is one of the early paragraphs of the next chapter in Pauline Machengo’s extraordinary story….and a plea for donations – large or small, in any currency – to start to build the funds up for what is likely to be the delivery of goods during 2021, though we still can’t predict exactly when that will happen:

“THE BUS was idling, ready to go. Its head was already facing the exit gates of Roadport (coach terminal in Harare). I was sitting by the window craning my neck in order to have a clear view of the Forth Street taxi rank. Eagle Liner buses are so high that you can see people walking around like ants. The view was so perfect. I was smiling like nobody’s business. Finally I was on my way to Cape Town. Goodbye Zimbabwe!”

Pauline Machengo’s amazing story will continue on the blog….if people will donate to http://gofundme.com/friends-of-pakati small or large amounts are welcome! Equivalent of US$2 or GB£2 or more…just need a few to join in & then we will release this next chapter in full.

I heard from Debbie Chadbon again recently, and although she was disappointed not to be able to do the proposed Bristol 10km run in early May, she did say “I am thinking I might do it around our local park in the Autumn instead and I’m trying to keep the momentum of running going.” Hopefully this will come about, but there is stil a certain amount of uncertainty about things at the moment….

Admin block, Pakati Secondary school

I am also asking for help to widen the readership of the blog. I am keen to get more interest from the Pakati/Zimbabwean diaspora wherever they are, as well as from people in the UK and elsewhere. This will need more sharing, retweeting, liking, spreading the word among your contacts, encouraging them to take a look, read some of the stories, share it themsleves, maybe donate whatever can be afforded…all of this will help tremendously in delivering the aim of supporting the two schools at Pakati. Thank you!

Chapter One of ‘Outside Zim Borders’…a much longer story from Pauline Machengo.

Outside Zim Borders

story by Pauline Machengo

Note edited – by Mr Walker of Friends of Pakati (actually very little editing at all)

Chapter one

“Babe please don’t go. We can do something here in Zimbabwe. We can start another business together, I mean I can help you do something” That was my boyfriend Chris trying to convince me to stay in Zimbabwe when I told him I’m leaving for South Africa. Things in Zimbabwe were not good. The economy was very bad. Yes you could start a business but you couldn’t get anything from it. Inflation was the order of the day. Prices for basic commodities were skyrocketing everyday. I couldn’t stand my own country. I wanted something better for myself and my family. My parents had played their role by giving me an education, so now it was on me to choose the life I want to live. I was not going to stay in Zimbabwe and suffer. I had a chance to go for greener pastures in South Africa. My sisters were there so why would I stay in such poverty. I wasn’t going to listen to him and let him ruin my plans never.

“Look babe, the situation here in Zimbabwe is not going to be okay anytime soon. I can’t stay here. I have a chance to go to South Africa so why should I stay here? See I love you and it’s hurting me parting ways with you but this is my life. I need this” l told him this trying to make him understand. I mean if he loves me that much he could come with me right?.

“If you love me the way you’re saying it then don’t go Tashy (Pauline’s nickname). This is our country, we can manipulate the little resources we have. I have many business ideas but it needs your brilliant ideas and your smart brains babe. I can’t do this alone”

Okay I know Chris very well. He can sweet talk you into something that you can regret later. His sweet words were my weakness. I was about to give in into his ideas but no, my mind was already in Cape Town, South Africa. I could see myself roaming the streets of Cape Town and have some brunch into its restaurants. I was daydreaming about Cape Town so I was not going to let someone like Chris took away my dreams and fantasies. I was not going back.

“Chris I can always come back babe. I need this. I have a life to figure out so please don’t do this to me. Try to understand my love” “Understand what Tashy?! Understand what?! We are suppose to get married soon but now you’re talking about South Africa. How are we gonna proceed with our plans whilst you’re there?. Tell me I’m wasting my time with you Tashy, tell me!”

“Jeez Chris, what’s wrong with you?. I’m explaining things here. Tell me how does this whole thing affect our relationship. We can be still lovers. Long distance relationship ain’t that bad”
“You know what Tashy, do whatever you want but this is the end of us. I’m not doing this with you. We are done.”

Just like that I lost my lover. Why, why, why? Well it happens, I didn’t care whether I was going to lose this dude or not. I was not going to stay in Zimbabwe. Chris could go for all I care but Cape Town hahaha – I was going to find another lover there maybe better than Chris, who was the love of my life. He was there for me since I was in high school. He was the reason I live😃😃.

My parents are the true reason I live. Chris was so loving and caring. Losing him was going to be hard for me. Given another situation, I was going to choose him over that, but not this South Africa situation🙈🙈. l was going to find another lover as soon as I land in or on my way to Cape Town..

I checked my ticket once again to make sure that the dates and time for my departure were correct. I smiled and kissed the ticket. Cape Town here I come! Chris can go to hell..

Hie guys this novel is about what I came across in Cape Town. I hope you will enjoy….

Here is the thing….I, Mr Walker, author of Friends of Pakati, have been wondering about Pauline’s story since she first sent it to me – see https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/04/18/saturday-star-profile-of-former-pakati-student-pauline-machengo-part-1/ plus https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/04/23/profile-of-former-pakati-student-pauline-machengo-part-2/ and https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/05/03/profile-of-former-pakati-student-pauline-machengo-part-3/ – I thought there could be much more behind all this. Digging a little deeper, it seems I was right….and as a script-writer, she certainly knows how to tell a good story already.

I persuaded her to think about it, and soon after, she sent me this, Chapter 1 of her experiences in South Africa. it will be a ‘warts and all’ tale, and I dont yet know how many chapters there will be…She did post this first part on her Facebook page a few days ago too, but following discussions, she has agreed all future chapters will be here on Friends of Pakati first! An Exclusive!!

Pauline is very keen that Friends of Pakati – and by extension the two schools – should benefit in some way so we jointly thought how to do this…here is the plan (which may change depending on how this works…)…

If you, the reader, want to find out what happens in the next chapter (already written and waiting to be edited) then please donate a few US$, UK£, Euros, ZW$, SA Rands, Botswana Pula or whatever currency from anywhere in the world…to http://gofundme.com/friends-of-pakati maybe just 2, 3 or 4 or 5 US$ or equivalent, then each time I see the equivalent of UK £20 (approx US$25) added in, we will publish the next chapter. It can come in small amounts or larger, we dont mind. Lets see how long it takes to get chapter 2 published first….here is hoping we can push her to writing more very soon!👍😁