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.
It is true that the electricity supply in Zimbabwe can be described as erratic. During my stay, power would be off during the day most days (although that was improving before I left). This meant it was going go be a challenge for both Pakati schools once the computers were in place.
During my discussions with the Head of the Secondary school, Mr Chifaka, he told me that at both Primary and Secondary schools they had a solution: both have Solar power. He showed me the set up at Pakati Secondary during my recent visit.
The resulting supply proved more than enough to power the 4 PCs and a laptop, with a similar set-up at the Primary doing likewise there.
Where to begin? Well after the extraordinary events at Pakati, I then stayed in Harare and around. My principal host in Harare was Donna, in Marlborough, where the computers had been delivered to and stored. She lives with her two boys, TJ and Kuku. As with Bothwell in the previous post, they were wonderful hosts. I cannot thank them enough for their hospitality under the challenging circumstances.
The next few pictures are concentrated on the Secondary school at Pakati….
The next few photos show some of the other people I have met, either old friends or new.
There were so many more people I met, but the Njenje family greeted me on arrival near the school signboard….but then I am one of them after all.
The author’s long-awaited trip to Zimbabwe is now over….I will do a separate post regarding several people I met during my return to Pakati. However, special mention must be given to the family who live closest to the school – Bothwell Riside (see previous posts on here) and his family.
I stayed for several days and nights in their rural home, and let me say this: no 5-star hotel can compare with the welcome and care I receieved there. Special thanks to Bothwell’s mother and his cousin’s wife – Mrs Beauty Mafema (mbuya Svova ) and Faresi – see pictures for an insight into life in Rural Zimbabwe…
My thanks also go to Bothwell in particular, who was a terrific host, driver, translator, storyteller, confidant and friend throughout my stay.
This is the second instalment of the story of how IT arrived at Pakati. It begin with the a meeting in 2018 with the Head of the Secondary school, Mr Chifaka. As I sat in his office ww discussed developments at the school since I left in September 1991, most obvious being the new buildings – Admin block, new classrooms and more teachers houses. When I asked what developments he would wish to see, he said one word: Computers. That day this project was born.
There were 2 other significant things to come from those initial discussions for which Mr Chifaka must take credit – firstly. we should include the Primary school so in future, students moving up to Secondary will then have a basic knowledge of IT already, and secondly, we must follow local protocols and include local councillors, the Council themselves, plus the local MP along with villge elders and School Development Committees.
MP Honourable Jonah Sewera along with the CEO if Murewa Rural District Council, Alderman Israel Maliki, village elders and School Development Committee members ensure the Heads of the 2 schools can now set up and use the donated equipmemt.
Following the ceremony we set up the computers at both schools. See below how it happened at the Secondary school.
Once fully set up, as with the Primary school, Mr Riside helped by running a brief basic IT lesson for a few Form 3 and 4 students.
Stephenson Group from Leeds donated much of the equipment now being used, and I learned recently they have more items to pass to friendsofpakati.com -possibly another 8 PCs to share with the two schools. A tremendous gesture by them everyone here at Pakati thinks.
Also welcomed by Head Mr Chifaka are the football jerseys donated by Scunthorpe United Football Club. He strongly believes these gifts will “…motivate our students to do well academically and in our sports competitions.”
This is the first instalment about IT at both Pakati schools, thanks to the donations by the Stephenson Group based in Leeds, to cash donations by Scunthorpe United and the many individual contributions via the http://gofundme.com/friends-of-pakati page.
With all the goods unwrapped and securely stored at the Secondary school until after the handover ceremony, they had been separated into what equipment was to go to which school.
Next day, we delivered all the donated items which were chosen for the Primary school, including computers and sports equipment.
Myself, Alderman Israel Maliki and Bothwell Riside then proceeded to help Primary school staff set up the equipment for their first use.
Once set up, we asked the staff to gather some Grade 6 pupils for an impromptu initial trial lesson, given by Bothwell Riside. He demonstrated his teaching skills , thoroughly engaging the children in the lesson.
Following on from the demonstration lesson, at which the pupils began to learn about hardware, software and how to use keyboards, mouse and the monitors, the staff gathered around to hear advice about setting the equipment up themselves and secure storage. They warmly thanked everyone responsible for the donations, especially the Stephenson Group from Leeds.
Left to Right: Mr Mahachi, Mr Masamha, Mr Gonye Mr Mupaikwa, Mr Chakanyuka , Mrs Farirayi, Mrs Kupara, Mr Chorichi (with head only visible ), Mr Walker, Mrs Bvirakare, Mrs Mandingaisa, and Mr Kupara.
Primary school staff also thanked Scunthorpe United Football Club for their donation of football shirts – very gratefully received! Mr Mahachi, Head of Pakati Primary school said that “…these donations of computers and sports kits will help transform the lives of many of our students. We wish to record our thanks to all who donated to friendsofpakati for their contributions.”