A chance to look back on things…..plus maybe a surprise to come

Having been back home for nearly 2 weeks now, I thought it would be useful to look back at what has been achieved, what more there is to do, and where http://friendsofpakati.com can go from here.

The visit to Pakati went incredibly well, beyond my wildest dreams. From the moment I arrived and started to unpack the donated goods, the welcome I received just blew me away. The computers & sports equipment were very well recieved at both Pakati schools. The official handover of the donations was a wonderful occasion, enjoyed by all present. The installation of the computers at both schools was an exciting time, not least for the students who were invited to trial lessons.

What I feel we achieved is not as much as I had originally planned, but the fundraising has been the main limiting factor. It started out as a plan to use one of the charity organisations who get used IT equipment from businesses and individuals, clean them up, instal software and then offer them to be shipped to schools in Africa. The costs of sending a large number (50+) proved too much. However, the offer of a donation from the Stephenson Group from Leeds, came about through a radio interview I did.

This lead me to look at other donations, but mostly of money. The more I raised, the more I could look for additional equipment, through local second hand computer/phone shops close to home. I picked up an extra PC, 2 laptops, 5 monitors, cables, muliti-plug sockets. Then, the largest individual cost, the transport of the goods from my home to Pakati.

The next thing we would like to get organised is internet access to the schools, via satellite due to the schools’ location. Following on, as I understand it, there are more computers to be donated. They will also need more monitors, cables etc., and of course transportation.

Where do we go from here? Well the fundraising needs to get moving again, so any ideas or suggestions about what we can do would be welcome. friendsofpakati@gmail.com or http://facebook.com/Friends-of-pakati or http://twitter.com/friendsofpakati to let us know your thoughts. It is possible we can collaborate with other organisations such as Vatonatsa Foundation, or look to discussions with others about how best to continue.

Finally, a possible surprise – I am waiting to hear from someone else who has fond memories of Pakati…hopefully they will be willing/able to provide some extra ideas, maybe practical help for the blog. More next time!

Stephenson Group of Leeds – publicity for their donation to Pakati

Stuart (Stephenson Group), the Author, and Richard (Stephenson Group)

I recently recieved an email from Richard Musgrave, Marketing Manager for http://www.StephensonPersonalCare.com of Leeds. He tells me that the company has had our story published in a number of local publications.

From the Business section on the Yorkshire Post

The story was published in the Yorkshire Post (see picture above), The Yorkshire Times, Business Up North and Entirely Yorkshire, see links below:




Personally I am delighted with the publicity for the Stephenson Group, as I hope it will generate further interest in http://friendsofpakati.com which is an ongoing project. I believe the Stephenson Group are looking to increase their donation in the near future.

Part of the recent donation delivered to Pakati schools in September 2019

Power to Pakati…..

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.

Mr Chifaka and Mr Walker

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.

Mr Chifaka showing me around the solar power system at Pakati Secondary school

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.

Mr Chifaka overseeing the setting up of IT equipment at
Pakati Secondary school

My thanks – part 2 – host in Harare, and many friends old and new

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.

Donna with the author

The next few pictures are concentrated on the Secondary school at Pakati….

With Mr Chifaka, Head of Pakati Secondary school
With Mrs Pindura, Deputy Head
With Mr Magabaza
With Mrs Munatswa
With Mr Nehanda, school clerk
With Mrs Mwaashidzana
With Mr Chizenya
With Mr Mutyavaviri
Mrs Katonha
With Mr Katonha

The next few photos show some of the other people I have met, either old friends or new.

Honourable Jonah Sewera, MP for Murewa West, his Brother-in-law, Mrs Sewera and the author
With Alderman Israel Maliki, councillor for Murewa Ward 14
Bothwell, plus Holly and Vari from Vatonatsa Foundation (also Holly’s Granddaughter), and the author
With Stayce Chadenga, Form 1 student at Pakati Secondary school – daughter
of my former student Elliot Munyaradzi Chadenga
With Lorraine Mapuranga, former student of mine and contributor
to this blog, and Bothwell Riside
Lorraine, Keith, Michelle, the Author, Esther, Admire, Pamela
With Mr Masawi
Talking with Thomas Gombera, first time I have seen him in over 20 years

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.

With the Njenje family

My thanks….part 1

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.

Faresi, Bothwell, and his mother
Mrs Beauty Mafema

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…

Inside the living room
The rondavel is the kitchen
Main part of the homestead – Living room and bedrooms
View from the homestead
My favourite part of the day – as the sun goes down in the Pakati area

My thanks also go to Bothwell in particular, who was a terrific host, driver, translator, storyteller, confidant and friend throughout my stay.

Bothwell in full flow translating my speech at the hand-over ceremony at Pakati

IT at Pakati – part 2 – the Secondary school

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.

The day our ideas came to fruition

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.

Handover ceremony for the local dignatories and school Heads

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.

All goods were unwrapped at the Secondary school

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.”

IT at Pakati – part 1 – the Primary school

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.

Unwrapping all the goods at Pakari

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.

The donations were eventually formally handed over to, and accepted by, the two Pakati schools

Next day, we delivered all the donated items which were chosen for the Primary school, including computers and sports equipment.

Mr Mahachi, Head of Pakati Primary school, with the author

Myself, Alderman Israel Maliki and Bothwell Riside then proceeded to help Primary school staff set up the equipment for their first use.

Getting the computers set up for the first time

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.

Primary school staff with the author

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.”