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.
As confirmed in the blog just recently posted, I was told late yesterday that schools across Zimbabwe are due to close early, on Tuesday 24th March 2020, until further notice.
However, things were still happening at many schools before that time – see the pictures and information provided today by Mr Mahachi, Head of Pakati Primary school.
The Primary school has been holding lessons as normal, and holding impromptu staff meetings too.
IT lessons covering basic, introductory instructions have been given to some of the younger learners today.
I dont know for sure if it is due to lack of equipment, but the young learners sitting outside are writing in the sand in the school yard.
Pakati schools will close on Tuesday, but I intend to keep the blog going and the fundraising going too, using stories old and new, guest contributors, discussions on possible future project collaborations, and reminding readers of why this project is important. Schools being closed for now does not mean they dont need the things we would like to provide. They will need our support in place before they re-open, and long afterwards too.
Please read below the announcement yesterday by the Government of Zimbabwe:
🟪 NEW DATES FOR CLOSING OF SCHOOLS AND TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS
Following concerns from parents, as well representations by the educational sector, Government has decided that all schools and tertiary institutions (colleges, polytechnics and universities) will now close on Tuesday, 24 March, 2020, as a precaution against the outbreak and spread of Coronavirus.
While Zimbabwe has not recorded any cases of the virus to date, Government has thought it prudent to err on the side of caution, more so in respect of teaching institutions where human concentration and contact is expectedly high.
The decision is part of the general precautionary measures the country is taking in light of the worldwide outbreak and rapid spread of the Coronavirus.
As I announced on Tuesday, 17h March, 2020, Government will advise on dates for the reopening of all teaching institutions in the country once the threat of the virus is adjudged to have receded.
The date of 24th March should allow for an orderly closure of our institutions, and for parents to arrange for the safe travel of pupils and students.
Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. President of Zimbabwe.
There is another blog to follow this one very soon..
As yet, schools in Zimbabwe are still open until 2nd April, when it is due to close for end of term break up to 5th May.
I wrote yesterday about schools in and around Pakati area (see https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/03/18/covid-19-updates/ for details), and I have received some pics & short videos from Mrs Maenzanise, Head of Mapanga Primaey school in Murewa Ward 14, showing how they are dealing with their young students in these difficult times.
Teachers at Mapanga are helping their young learners washing their hands, some being assigned to get water from the borehole.
Mapanga students are using whatever items can be found to be used as water containers.
Such activities are happening in schools across the country in order to try and prevent the transmission of the virus.
I received an email from Debbie Chadbon today informing me that her planned 10km run in Bristol, due to have happened in early May, has been cancelled. This means one of the key fundraising events will be delayed. Debbie’s intention is still to run a 10km for us, we just do not know when or where yet. Obviously we will update on here once we know more.
As I mentioned earlier today, I am now intending to visit Zimbabwe in January/February 2021 instead of this September. The fundrasing will slow down for a while, but all will relaunch as soon as possible, although online fundraising will continue, see https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/03/16/important-changes-to-fundraising-activities so again, I will update on here when things look like they are returning to normal.
In the UK, all schools will have closed from Friday this week. In Zimbabwe border crossings are being affected, and schools are due to close from 2nd April to 5th May. I am told the two Pakati schools are going through information and instructions on dealing with the virus, as are all other local schools such as Mapanga Primary where they are having lessons at assemblies, with teachers demonstrating ways of washing hands under running water. They can use 5-litre containers or use buckets. I am hoping to have photos and/or short videos showing whst these schools are doing, and will publish them when I get them.
There are unconfirmed reports of deaths from the virus in Zimbabwe, only a small number so far reported unofficially. In the UK it has moved to 104. Please stay safe and look after youselves, your families and communities.
It would be foolish not to admit that things will continue as normal as Corona Virus has affected how the world works for the time being. It is clear that it will be months rather than weeks before things return to anything like normal. As a results, Friends of Pakati will be affected in terms of being able to fundraise as much or as quickly as planned, and will therefore be delayed in delivering on its priorities for 2020 – see https://friendsofpakati.com/2020-vision-friends-of-pakati-the-project-continues/ for full details.
To allow for this, and obviously this may itself change depending on how long it takes for things to get back to near normal, I am now looking at early 2021 for such a visit to happen, and therefore to have goods arrive shortly before I do, as last year. I am now aiming for late January/early February 2021, and until then, I wil keep the blog going in the meantime.
If you have any Pakati/Ward 14 Murewa stories to tell, or would like to hear about, then please use the contacts here; similarly if you have any questions about friendsofpakati.com or want to suggest or say something about the content of the blog, please use these contacts too. If you have anything you could donate to help the schools, or money to help the fundraising, then also use the contacts – See below…
As it stands, schools in Zimbabwe remain open, so Friends of Pakati will continue to report on life at Pakati with the help of the staff at both schools, und update you on any changes that may happen. There were reports of someone in Harare being taken to hospital having been found wandering the streets feeling ill, and confirmed as having Corona virus.
Due to the suspension of sporting events in the UK, it seems at least one of our fundraising events will be unable to take place any time soon….so the Author has made some changes to the ‘Get TIED UP for Pakati idea…please see the new version, designed to try and get more football fans on board.
I am also waiting to hear if Debbie Chadbon’s 10km run in Bristol on 3rd May will also be affected.
Further to all this, there may yet be a delay to when the Author can come to Zimbabwe in person, only time will tell.
More details will be provided as and when I know more about what is happening. in the meantime the blog continues, with promises of more stories from Pakati people past and present, reports from both schools on sports activities and ongoing lessons.
Thanks to my joining the Chigwada Patrons facebook group, I received this story from one of its members. It is a wonderful story, well told. I have edited only a very little, the vast majority is in Agatha’s own words, and she provided the pictures. Read on….
“Hello sir. My name is Agatha Joramu Fombo. I am from Chigwada Village and am 46 years old. I did my primary education at Pakati Primary School. I started in 1980 and it was not easy for a young girl like me walking more than 5km every morning and the same after school.
I remember very much the way I cried every morning as I tried to run and catch up with the likes of Davy Chigwada, Petty Sapprinyu, Betty Mutanga etc. These were far older than me but they had been delayed by the second chimurenga (liberation war in Zimbabwe) and they re enrolled in 1980 back to school.
My grade 1 and 2 teacher was Ms Zonke, my grade 3 and 4 teacher was Ms Mwenye and my grade 5 and 6 teacher was Mr Maenzanise. Our headmaster was formerly Mr Chihaka senior then we had Mr Chirapa when I was in grade 6. I remember very well how good Ms Zonke was, she had a great passion and affectionate for pupils. Ms Mwenye was also good but she used to punish us hard for any wrong that we did.
Then Mr Maenzanise (his wife is last week’s Saturday Star – see https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/03/07/saturday-star-mrs-maenzanise-former-teacher-at-pakati-primary-school/ ) was a very quiet and humble man. He loved music and playing his guitar for us and one song he taught us was” AS I WAS WALKING ONE MORNING FOR PLEASURE.. I SAW A CHIMPANZEE COME RIDING ALONG”. Also to remember was headmaster Chirapa and his enforcement on singing the then national anthem” Nkosi Sikeleli Africa” (in the local Shona language “Ishe Komborerai Africa” to the same tune one of the Authors abiding memories is the beautiful singing of this every week at school assemblies)
I used to do athletics so much and was a fan of soccer and netball and used to go with the school teams to sing and support. I moved to Harare where I did all my later part of education.
Now I am a married woman with 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren. I became a pastor when I was in South Africa (SA) in 2016.
I moved back to Zimbabwe last year in December and am staying in Mutare where I and my husband are pastoring. We also started a preschool in February to the underprivilledged children at a farm in Old Mutare.”
I am very grateful to the Pastor for her story, another tale to inspire students at both Pakati schools, by showing what can be achieved with dedication regardless of your origins.