This week’s big news here at Friends of Pakati is….our very first PODCAST!! I have just had a listen back to it, & am delighted with what I heard – so a massive THANK YOU to Bradley Mell for everything – I look forward to many more future episodes here on friendsofpakati.com
Here it is:
Hope you like it!
As we said in this first episode, we aim to include people involved with Friends of Pakati both here in the UK and in Zimbabwe, and other countries around the world.
Current plans are for interviews with Roj Rahman, a Scunthorpe businessman who has backed us from the early days; Stuart Pine from IT donors Stephenson Group; at least one of the two Pakati school Heads; some former students of Pakati wherever they might be; at least one other former teacher at Pakati.
David C Scott, the Author, and Roj Rahman
Following on from the podcast, yesterday, I met with Roj & with David C Scott. David, as I mentioned in the podcast, is the one who came up with the idea for GET TIED UP FOR PAKATI originally back in 2020. Those plans were scuppered by the Covid pandemic, but now have been resurrected for this year:
We will have a dedicated Gallery Page, and there is already talk of adding photos & clips on to our youtube channel http://Youtube.com/friendsofpakati after the event. We are also looking to create new content for the channel in the near future..
Well, that’s it for this first part of the blog…coming up in part 2 will be the latest updates from Pakati Primary school, courtesy of the Head, Mr Mahachi.
Fundraising events are gathering pace & publicity, as I look to maximise the take-up of ‘Get TIED UP for PAKATI’. I have been given some new potential contacts to increase participation by fans & staff of Bradford City, to join those of us on the Scunthorpe United side. SUFC have already promised to publicise on their website, in their online programmes, and around the stadium in Scunthorpe.
Work colleagues of mine are also getting involved, as we are having a ‘Dress Down Day’ where we are asked to wear a sports top to work. I will also have a chance to take orders for our merchandise that day. See some examples in the pic above, and here: https://friendsofpakati.com/merchandise/
I recently had a chat with Stuart from the Stephenson Group Ltd of Leeds, and am hoping to have a visit to their offices soon for some publicity for them and for us. I am also hoping to discuss what help they might be able to give us towards the cost of shipping the new donations of IT by the group.
There are of course several other things going on in the background, which will be revealed over time. For now, we are concentrating on the forthcoming chances to raise much-needed funds. I will keep updating our situation month by month.
This morning, Thursday 17th March 2022, I had some very sad news. One of the very first people I made friends with at Pakati, back in January 1989, was Thomas Gombera, owner of the Hamamaoko store at Chigwada township, some 40 minutes walk from Pakati. I learned today he has passed away. My condolences go to all his family & friends.
I think it is good for me to remember him here on the blog, so please just accept these as my own personal memories.
I was first introduced to Thomas by the Headmaster of Pakati Secondary school at the time, Mr Samakomva. He thought Thomas was someone it was important for me to get to know in the area.
The shops at Chigwada (top) where Hamamaoko Store is, and bottom right is Pakati Secondary school.
He was right. As the owner of the store nearest to the school in 1989, he was also one of few people in the area at the time with a vehicle, a van which he used to collect stock for his store from suppliers.
Hamamaoko Store in 1990
Hamamaoko Store in 2018
I often got lifts from him, either from Musami Cross, or Musami township on my way back to the school; or from Chigwada to wherever he would take me – Musami, Murewa, even Marondera. Sometimes I would just go with him for a day out, always interesting, fun, got to meet so many people in the stores and bars around the various smaller townships in the area. Never without a drink….
How he has lived to age he did is a mystery to me, as his lifestyle back when I worked at Pakati could not be described as healthy…how his wife Judy dealt with him I can only imagine, but every time I spent time at the store with my drinking buddies – Mr Jambwa, Mr Juru, Mr Mrasawi & several others including teachers from both Pakati schools – Judy was always there to keep an eye on him & us, and very quick to laugh at our expense😁
A Spanish lady who was teaching at St Paul’s, Musami, Thomas, & Mr Jambwa, in 1990
I do remember one Saturday he took me to Murewa, but when I arrived at the store, he came out from his home, walked into the store, took a cold beer from the fridge, bit the top off with his teeth, said ‘Ah, yesterday, too much beer!’ and promptly took a large swig out of the bottle! He then drove us with the bottle between his knees…I did get back safely later that day, but not sure how….
I know one weekend on a trip to Murewa when I wasnt with him, he witnessed the aftermath of a bad bus crash off the main road at Chivake Bridge, and he told me how bad it was, having ferried some of the injured to Murewa hospital, then having to wash the back of the van down. He was quite shaken by the experience.
One of my birthdays, Thomas & Judy & friends threw a party behind the store, and two VSO volunteers who were visiting from Tanzania came to stay with me & joined in…a very good night though I dont remember too much about it😁plenty to eat & drink & local music to enjoy late into the night.
Photo taken in 1991 just before I left Pakati, with Thomas on the right
I have many abiding memories of times with Thomas & his wife, the store, the customers, and life in general at Pakati and in the area. I never felt out of place, never felt alone, always had someone wanting to talk to me, was always made welcome by the community (& still am), and that is something I treasure to this day.
Chigwada township to the left of the picture, from Gwangwadza hill, 2014
Thomas in his fields near Chigwada township.
The last time I saw Thomas was in September 2019, the first time for many years. I went with him to his rural home and we spent time reminiscing….a wonderful day for me, and fitting I should have such happy memories. Rest in everlasting Peace, Shamwari Yangu.
For the second time this year, I recently took the opportunity to talk about Friends of Pakati on my local radio station – Bradford Community Broadcasting – BCB – to raise the profile of our fundraising efforts in April this year. For more information read here – https://friendsofpakati.com/get-tied-up-for-pakati-3/ but also please listen to both broadcasts below.
My thanks today therefore go to presenter Dom Burch, who has become a supportive friend of Friends of Pakati! Great to see him enjoying his tea in one of our mugs & proudly wearing our badge.
So, please have a listen to the interview here, slide forward to 33 minutes in and you will hear more about what we are doing after some music, and what we have already done for/at Pakati:
At the end, I hoped to hear my favourite Zimbabwean song, but the version they found although still great, wasn’t quite the one I had always loved, so here is the version that will be familiar to many:
My thanks go to staff at Pakati Secondary school for the school photos, and the information provided in this first part of today’s blog.
Here is what I was sent yesterday:
“Hi Chris, this is our prefect board for 2022. From left back, there is Robert Mawindo, Tawanda Dzimauta, Shantel Matanhike, Ruvarashe Chihumbiri, Winfrey Mlambo, Luanda Mlambo, Rosemary Chiwodzera,
From left front there is Belinda Machika (Head Girl), Kelly Madziwa (Deputy Head Girl), Oneal Mutuvah (Deputy Head Boy) ,Gibson Makate (Head Boy).”
The school is back to normal following disruption earlier in the term. Students & staff are now in full swing, seen arriving on Monday of last week:
Mrs Mwaashi and Mrs Chingoriwo screening learners as they turn up at the school entrance.
Here is the latest addition to the Secondary school staff:
So far there is no word on when school & inter-school sports will reappear, which is a blow to Pakati. As a small school, it regularly ‘punches above its weight’ in sports, historically producing some fine athletes and battling teams.
Pakati Primary school
Next week I hope to have updates on the situation at the Primary school, having heard ftom Head Mr Mahachi earlier today.
Mapanga Primary school
I have heard also from Head Mrs Maenzanise at Mapanga, also in Ward 14 of Murewa District.
Scenes from last term at Mapanga showing students attending, and a small wall being built. They now have a new school gate at the entrance
Our friends and fellow philanthropists at VaTonatsa have been busy lately with their endeavours to support a number of underprivileged children in the Ward 14 area.
They have taken many items to the families and schools where the children attend, including at Mapanga Primary.
Here is something I have wrote a while back, very much a personal explanation of Friends of Pakati. Much of it can be found on other pages on this site, but its worth putting it out together as one post.
There are times when I am transported back to my time at Pakati Secondary school. It could be the taste of some African food, the sound of a familiar Zimbabwean song, hearing someone speaking in Shona, or watching TV documentaries about people and wildlife in Africa. Many things really. They remind me of what it was like to live in rural Zimbabwe. I think back to all those I knew – staff, students, parents, friends from the community – and wonder how they are, what they are doing, are they still around?
It brings back memories of everyday things – mostly very different to what I was used to here in the UK. I feel it is good for me to have experienced such a life for those 30 months. It has opened my eyes and my mind, such that I consider myself to be quite adaptable, and very much a better person because of it. I frequently say it is the best thing I have ever done.
I set up Friends of Pakati towards the end of 2018 after revisiting the school. I saw developments, but also some things which might have improved over the years have remained the same. Always at the forefront of any school, wherever it is in the world, are the students as they pass through.
I can remember going into classes at Pakati early in 1989 struggling to understand much of how the students (and staff too) would speak, and I am sure it was the same in reverse. Like many things, it took a bit of getting used to. Accent, food, climate, living conditions, getting around, school organisation, the way things got done. What saw me through was the extraordinary feeling of welcome I got from everyone, with patience and forgiveness (I am certain I did & said things which made people wonder about what I was doing there).
Gradually we got used to each other. I settled in, I built friendships, some of which are with me to this day. As I began to enjoy life at Pakati, I spent more weekends in the area rather than going to Harare every Friday. I went to the shops at Chigwada 40 minutes walk away. I went to Musami, usually by bus, sometimes on foot or a lift. I got invited to peoples homes to visit, eat, drink, chat, see around the homesteads. All of these made me more at home, more accepted in the community. I have to add generally speaking, teachers are well respected, and there is a great desire for education.
Which brings me to what I want to say – what Friends of Pakati is about for me personally. I think back to students I taught who were very bright among their peers. Some got good results at O level, but I wonder…how well could they have really done if Pakati’s facilities matched those of bigger, better funded schools, some even not so far from them? I believe students who acheived well at Pakati (and any other similar school) would have matched the best at those other institutions. This blog has since it began, shown that real grinding poverty does not have to prevent a bright student from succeeding academically. Where help and support can be provided, the education of ALL students can be improved regardless of background. If bright students can improve, so can the rest. If a student is less academic but good at practical subjects, or sports, then improve their facilities too. Raise the whole school, raise every student. This will raise the community itself.
The vision that has been set out, comes from consulting current staff of both Pakati schools, but also other interested parties such as former students, local community leaders, and at least one former teacher.
Justification for what Friends of Pakati is doing came from someone close, Bothwell Riside. See his article copied and published here – click on this link:
The overall aim is to help to improve the education for the students at the two Pakati schools – Primary and Secondary.
Further below, under a heading ‘2020 Vision’, are the priorities, but they cannot all be met without a significant increase in funding. The result means asking what CAN we do with the funds we have/will have. We see that getting the donations of IT (& any other items) out to the schools will be the main target for the coming months. Internet provision we can only hope for at this stage, whereas helping poorest students retain access to education, and the improvements to the learning environment we think are necessary, are acheivable without a huge cost. We can use local tradespeople to help us.
PAKATI SECONDARY SCHOOL
As it was the Secondary school I taught at, here is a little more about the school, and from it you can see just how much help is needed. The Primary school finds itself in a similar position.
Post-independence in Zimbabwe saw an expansion of the Education sector, and in particular, a rapid growth of Secondary schools across the country. Pakati was part of this expansion, and like so many other schools in rural areas, provided education to GCSE O level for the first time to those local communities.
Thanks go to Mr Mugove Chifaka (current Head of Pakati Secondary school), Bothwell Riside, Debbie Chadbon and Lorraine Mapuranga (all regular Friends of Pakati contributors), plus Mr Mutyavaviri, Nickson Dzimauta, Patience Chinhoyi, Portia Nemaruru and others, for the additional information and photos.
Pakati Secondary school began life in 1984. At first, it was actually housed in the Primary school buildings, while construction began in 1985 of the first 3 classroom blocks, plus two teachers houses.
Murewa RDC (Rural District Council) brought in men who camped by the school and started erecting concrete poles. They made three shed-like buildings which were later filled by cement made blocks of bricks. The roof trusses were made of steel, and the roofs were put up way before the walls were built. They were built very quickly, and during 1985 Pakati had the first secondary school up and running.
One development I can confirm myself is the completion of a new borehole in early 1991, funded by the British High Commission through their Small Scale Development fund.
A fourth block was begun in 1988, but due to a number of issues, was not completed until 1992. VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas), who brought Debbie Chadbon and the Author to Pakati as teachers, helped by donating funds towards new windows and painting/decorating the building.
The picture at the top of this page was taken after it was officially opened for use, and is the block where Debbie got some of her students to help put the World map on one external wall.
Bothwell tells me he remembers it well: “I used to go and watch this being painted. What’s so vivid in my memory is that we used to be amazed at how a person could paint using her left hand.” The map was repainted in 2017. I am told that the whole school was redecorated in 2018.
The Heads of Pakati Secondary school I can be sure of have been as follows (unsure of who was Head first) :
Mr Mushaninga – 2007. Mr Chifaka – 2007 to 2010. Mr Chingoriwo 2010 to 2017. Mr Chifaka – 2017 to the present day
According to Debbie, “The 4th teachers house was built in 1993, it was completed around the time I left.” Since then, four more teachers houses have been completed.
In 2009, the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) installed the Solar power supply at Pakati Secindary school, as shown to me by Mr Chifaka on my most recent visit.
He further tells me that “ZESA electricity was installed in 2015, but there was no transformer till 2018.” Installation is confirmed as 2015 by local resident Nickson Dzimauta who worked on the project at the time.
In more recent years, there have been several new other buildings added – an Administration Block. Fashion and Fabrics Block as well as a Science & Technology Block.
An external area was also set aside for Building/Construction practical lessons.
Most recently, a new Tuck Shop has been built. The school buildings have also all been redecorated in recent years.
A fence was put around the school, as can be seen in the picture below, and I am told by former teacher there Mr Mutyavaviri that it was erected in 2016.
The classrooms and facilities inside for students appear to have changed little over the years. This is part of the reason for Friends of Pakati to exist.
So please, if you can, help us to improve the educational experience of the students at these two schools, and by extension, improve the lives of the surrounding community. See our links at the foit of this article.
Following the success of ‘My Project for 2019’ and all that went with it, 2020 Vision lays out the aims for this year, and how we hope to achieve them.
As already mentioned in earlier blog posts, discussions have been carried out with interested contributors, and a list of priorities has been put together to reflect those discussions. They are as follows below:
Internet: The first few computers delivered in September will come into their own once the internet is available. It offers students and teachers access to so much more information, advice, and educational material.
Printers and paper: With a lack of available text books, then once internet is set up then a printer for each school will be useful, so they can print out copies of relevant material, e.g. things like past exam papers.
Security: Both schools will need additional, improved security for the rooms in which the computers will be used. Better burglar bars on the windows and additional door security is needed.
More computers: In order to offer formal IT lessons, each school needs at least 10 computers. Currently they both have 5, so extra ones are needed. This will raise another question though – electricity supply. At present the supply is irregular, and both rely on solar power during the day.
Text books: It is sad to see that even now 30 years on from my time as a teacher at Pakati Secondary school, there are too few text books for the number of students.
Desks/seating: As with books, not enough desks and/or seats for the students. On top of that, there is now a requirement for seats with back support for the students.
I would like to add something else into the mix too….the overall classroom environment inside could use a spruce up, as could the admin block at the Secondary. Ceilings, a lick of paint, doors and windows? I believe the Primary would also benefit from similar improvements. The schools budgets are stretched, so I appreciate that these things would not be their highest priorities. However, depending on how much can be raised, friendsofpakati.com will try to cover as many of these stated priorities as possible during 2020.
Further details on fundraising events and ideas are now on the blog. All our links are shown below.
Ok, first I want to start with the biggest news of the week – my discussions with two academics from the University of Huddersfield.
A work colleague of mine used to be a Marketing Manager, & he suggested a few things I could do to try & improve the profile of Friends of Pakati. One idea was to contact a University nearby which offered Business/Management/Marketing courses & see if they would get some of their students involved with real-world problems faced by organisations, be they businesses or charities.
Well, thanks to a positive response to my request for help & advice, a Teams meeting video appointment took place on Friday between myself & two members of the University of Huddersfield Business School – namely Carol Sibbald and Dr. Radi Haloub. They are both involved in a Consultancy Project, where the students can choose who to help, overseen by academics.
I received a very positive response to what I told them, about Friends of Pakati and the main support/advice we are looking for – Marketing & Website/Social Media. I am told this will be mostly from May to August this year, with the help coming from Masters students.
My thanks go to Carol Sibbald (Business Development and Engagement Co-ordinator) and Dr. Radi Haloub (Senior Lecturer in Strategy). I look forward to a fruitful collaboration!
Following our recent successful interview on local radio in Bradford – see https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/01/30/this-weeks-news/ for a link to the broadcast – I have requested a follow-up interview, and expect to announce it soon. I have also made efforts ro contact Bradford City FC about our fundraising event on 23rd April ‘Get TIED UP for PAKATI’, so far without success but I will keep trying.
Some good news on the other planned fundraising event – we have a date & a venue confirmed! It is to be on Saturday 9th July at Redbourn Club in Scunthorpe. It will be billed as ‘An Evening With….the Iron Bru Podcast’ featuring special guests. Will reveal the guests once we confirm them, but we do have some live music from a singer & accompaniment, who go by the name of ‘E.v.i.e.’ as part of the entertainment.
I have also got an agreement in place regarding sponsorship of the event….much more on this in a future post. The sponsor concerned, Roj Rahman (as mentioned in last week’s blog) has also agreed I can do a post about him soon – so watch this space!
Photo courtesy of Luke Broughton Photography – Chris, Roj & Dan at Scunthorpe United
Now, I wonder what this next photo could be about….? Find out more in the coming days!
The Author has taken a week off from work, and there is much to be done to prepare for our fundraising efforts this year. I have to say i am encouraged by certain things which have been happening under the radar, as plans are developing at a good pace. Here are some of the things going on in the background…
First, we have a date & venue to be confirmed this week for a fundraising event in Scunthorpe in July. I have a potential sponsor for the event – good friend and fellow fan of Scunthorpe United local businessman Roj Rahman (founder of Mortz Property Services, already a keen supporter) – and a programme is being arranged for it.
Roj Rahman end left, and Chris Walker, end right
It will include guest speaker(s), live music, a raffle and maybe an auction. There will be tickets for it, and a maximum of 100 people to attend plus those running and/or appearing. Items are being gathered for raffle & maybe an auction for a couple of higher value items. The event – or at least part of it – is planned to be broadcast as a live podcast.
Secondly, approaches are being made to various groups & people to garner support for this event above, and already we have significant support from the Scunthorpe end of things. This week I hope to have engaged with fans groups in Bradford, plus with links at the club there. Local media are already getting involved in both places, so we hope to raise a good sum of money through this day in April. Publicity material us being prepared…
Both events above will be covered in more detail in the lead up to & aftermath of them taking place. Be assured we will have plenty of pictures & stories for you!
Also this coming week the Author, as we are part of the Consortium of Zimbabwe Charities – see http://www.cozc.org – I am also working on their website & facebook page. I have contact with many members of the Consortium, and am getting ideas & contacts for other organisations which may help us with our own work.
I am also reviewing our current sponsorships, as they have been in place for some time. I am going to contact each of them to see what level of support they can offer us. Below are the logos we currently have on:
…contains several items of interest to followers of Friends of Pakati, so let’s get on with it!
Firstly, what might these lads pictured below have to do with us I hear you ask?
Matt, Badley & Matt – presenters of the Iron Bru Podcast for fans of Scunthorpe United FC.
Well, I am currently in discussions about an event to raise funds for us, and it seems they are looking to run something themselves…so my idea is morphing into a joint event. We have a potential venue and tentative dates, and we are looking at possible guests to appear who might draw people to the event. Still early days, but I will post updates as we make progress.
Secondly, I hear from sources in Zimbabwe that schools are to re-open across the country on Monday, 7th February, following a decline in Covid cases there. Hopefully scenes like this below will be repeated at both Pakati schools that day.
Right now, school is empty, but it is looking very green and lush as it is the rainy season in Zimbabwe. The rains recently have been heavy, and the nearby Shavanhowe river is flowing quite high.
I am hoping for regular updates from both schools as we follow their progress.
Finally, back to the lads from Iron Bru…well one of them in particular. Bradley, who bought one of our badges recently (see below) is offering us some help, so I intend to take him up on that very soon…
He tells me he is the one who compiles & edits the podcast for the team, and is willing to help me with something similar for Friends of Pakati! That is a chance too great to pass up on, so watch -and listen out to – this space for more info in the near future👍Thanks Brad!
It is also highly likely that Friends of Pakati will appear on the Iron Bru podcast during the lead-up to 23rd April, as well as to our other suggested fundraising event, as we promote each other across all platforms. Read about what the original plans were here – https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/01/16/past-present-future/
Just last week, on Monday, I was starting to wonder about whether anyone was paying attention to the blog & what Friends of Pakati was trying to do. The statistics were unusually low in spite of what I thought was a great blog post last Sunday – https://friendsofpakati.com/2022/01/16/past-present-future/ – then THIS week…well, read on & find out more!
Assembly at Pakati Secondary school in 2019
The first thing that happened was on Tuesday, when the local newspaper here in Bradford – the Telegraph & Argus – published an article about one of oyr fundraising events planned for this year, the ‘Get TIED UP for PAKATI’. Here is the link to the article:
Not surprisingly, my work colleagues & several friends saw & read it, saying good things about the article.
Also on Tuesday, I plucked up the courage to go into the offices of a local radio station, BCB (Bradford Community Broadcasting) to see if they would be interested in what the paper had published. They said Yes Please! So, after work on Friday, I went back to them & had a very enjoyable interview on their evening slot around 5.30pm. Many thanks to all at BCB for the interview, and the open invitation to return. Definitely I will do that as often as they will have me!
Next, late on Saturday night, I got a message on whats app from someone I wasn’t expecting…but am.delighted to hear from her. Below is one Lucy Kamufetu, who is the daughter of one of my former students!
I am hoping this means I will finally get to tell the story of one family whose siblings were academically very bright, and I also found them to be very friendly when I once was invited to their homestead. In particular. I helped Hatipedzi Tsinyah with school fees in her final year at Pakati Secondary, while her brother Lawrence was also taught by myself and Debbie Chadbon. Below is Hati, Lucy’s mother, picture taken in 1991.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement for me, this morning I got a message from another former student…much more recent than Hati (above)…someone who would have completed Form 4 in 2020, but her exams were delayed into 2021 because of Covid 19. She is called Angeline Mavunga & still lives in the Pakati area. I hope to tell her story in time to publish next Sunday.
Planning is now going ahead for the two fundraising events discussed in last weeks blog. I am in contact with people who can help, and will give more details when I can. I have started to get offers of things to sell on our behalf, including some cycling gear from a fellow Scunthorpe United fan, Chris Brader. Football shirts & the FIFA22 mentioned recently are not likely to be the last things to help us rause the funds to meet our vision https://friendsofpakati.com/2020-vision-friends-of-pakati-the-project-continues/ & if you want to find out why I do this project, please read the rest of that page undermeath the vision.