How did I end up at Pakati?

A recent post on Facebook, and on twitter, by Vari Mayez of VaTonatsa Foundation – https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=888161984921314&id=100011825615629 – saying “It all began with one September afternoon and now we are here @guiuan03 @friendsofpakati @vatonatsa” https://t.co/rFxTgutNtP just reminded me of how it really started for me….here is the story I posted last May, now as one full story, of how I came to be a teacher in a rural school in Zimbabwe…

It began when I was living in Sheffield really, in early 1984. I was out of work & a bit lost to be honest. A friend of mine told me she thought I would make a good teacher, suggesting I applied for a teacher training course which would start in September that year. She also thought the best way to find out if I would enjoy it would be to volunteer in a local school.

I worked 2 days a week at a Middle school (ages 8-12), for 5 months, supporting a class teacher but also trying some lessons under his guidance. I ended up being invited to join them on a couple of school trips. When it came to the interviews for the course I had some good experiences to draw on, and knew I would enjoy teaching.

I trained at Bradford College, a 4-year B. Ed. (Hons) 1984 to 1988. As a student, I went out with friends, drinking in local bars where there were live bands playing. I watched one particular band often, who had a Zimbabwean bass player called Cecil Zinyuku. I got to know him and his family well. His sister (Dorcas, sadly now late) once asked what I was doing, and when I told her, she said “oh, you should come to Zimbabwe, we need teachers”. The idea was planted in my head…

As I completed the course I started applying for teaching jobs locally, but without success. Another friend thought I hadn’t really tried that hard, thinking I had already decided I wanted to teach abroad …

One weekend as I walked through Bradford city centre I saw a large double-decker bus parked up, with the letters VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) on the side. I had heard of them, so I was intrigued enough to go on board and find out more. I picked up some leafets & an application form. I filled it in & sent it off…this was August 1988. Within a few days I got invited for an interview….this turned out to be a whole day, early in September, with different activites including a 1 – to – 1 interview, brief lesson planning & delivery examples, and group discussions.

Some 10 days later lying in my bed in my flat, I heard the post arrive. I heard a thud hit the floor, and I knew before looking what it was – I had been accepted by VSO. Their letter had lots of information in it, with plans for my pre-departure training. Also by this time I had a temporary job which lasted until the Christmas period of 1988.

Throughout this time VSO were trying to source a job for me. It started with Sierra Leone, but they turned me down as I was a newly qualified teacher. Then it was the Solomon Islands, but that fell through as there was a coup, so no new volunteers would go there for the time being. It got to early December, I had done all the training….I had nowhere to go. Then out of the blue…

….Zimbabwe came to my rescue! I just wanted to go SOMEwhere..I said YES straight away, and things moved very quickly. By early January I was getting everything ready, for a departure from London Heathrow Airport on friday night, 6th January 1989. My parents and some of my friends came to see me off, quite an emotional time I can say….

While I was moving from being a student teacher into a potential VSO volunteer, Mr Samakomva, then Headmaster of Pakati Secondary school, was approaching VSO at their office in Harare to ask for a new Maths teacher for the school.

There was an arrangement between VSO and the Zimbabwean Government, specifically the Ministry of Education. Schools could request a teacher from the UK if they could meet a basic standard of accommodation.

VSO staff would visit the school more than once before agreeing to send a volunteer there, and a serving volunteer would also visit to do a report. The outline of VSO’s report combined the findings of both staff & volunteers, and it was sent to the prospective volunteer back in the UK.

The report I recieved about Pakati made it interesting to me….VSO staff’s part of it was fairly factual – ‘the school is in a remote rural area, east of Harare, with access by dirt road. It has around 300 pupils & 10 staff’. The serving volunteers part, who taught at a school North of Murewa, was more intruiging….

‘Pakati has a remote but pleasant feel about it. There is a small township a few km away (Musami), around an hours walk depending on the height of the intervening river (and the mood of the crocodiles…)’

My departure (along with 11 other new volunteers) turned out to be an anti-climax…we were booked onto a flight with Air Ethiopia, due to fly that Friday night, 6th January 1989. Having done the goodbyes, we waited…waited…and finally….

…our flight was cancelled! We were taken back through customs & booked into an hotel close by. We were fed & watered, then 24 hours later, we took off for Addis Ababa. On arrival, it became clear that there was no connecting flight to Harare until the Tuesday, so the Airline had to put us up in another hotel, in Addis, until the Tuesday. Our adventure had begun in an unexpected way…2 days & nights in the Ethiopian capital proved a real eye-opener to us all.

We did arrive in Harare on the Tuesday afternoon, to be met by VSO staff. We were taken to a training centre where our in-country training had been reduced. By the Friday evening several of us were ready for a night out, & ended up at Jobs Nightspot to watch the Four Brothers play live. Very enjoyable!

Saturday 14th January meant we were being taken to, and dropped off at, our new schools & homes. 3 of us went together, along with the volunteer who had done the report about Pakati. Firstly, Darren was dropped at Shamva, then Lucy was dropped near Mutoko. As the afternoon wore on, we finally arrived at Pakati. The other volunteer, Mick, helped me settle in by staying overnight.

Sunday 15th. I met the Deputy Head, Mr Nyamauya, and several staff for the first time. We went around the school and to the nearest store, 40 minutes walk away, where I met several members of the local community.

Monday 16th January 1989, my first official day as a teacher, is now a blur…I remember very little of it if I am honest. But it was, as they say, the first day of the rest of my life. An experince I will never forget, and I will always be grateful to Pakati school and the community for the opportunity to become one of them.

That, dear readers, is how I came to teach at Pakati 30 over years ago.

Chapters 8 and 9 – Outside Zim Borders

OUTSIDE ZIM BORDERS

WRITTEN BY PAULINE MACHENGO

Edited by Chris Walker

CHAPTER 8

The raindrops were hitting hard on my head. Some were cascading on my face blurring my vision as I made my way to the bus stop one morning. It was raining heavily. This was my fourth day at work. I was alone, l wasn’t gonna wait for my cousin sister. The last time I did that we ended up walking a 5 km distance on foot because we were late. Our boss was very punctual. We were supposed to start work at 8am, so she would come to pick us at the station at ten minutes before eight, and if you’re late it means you will walk and your salary will be deducted. I wasn’t worried about the salary deduction because as a part time employee I was exempted. I was worried about the walking distance in the rain. So that day I was going to work alone. I had mastered all the things to do

1. stir your finger in circles to indicate that you want the taxi to pick you up.
2, as soon as you get off the taxi at the rank run or walk fast to join your queue๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ make sure you won’t hit people otherwise you don’t want to draw attention whilst you’re a foreigner.
3. never sit at the front in the taxi unless you have an ‘A’ in mathematics.
Sitting in front means you will be responsible for all the money and the changes so if you don’t know the language stay clear from the front seat.

I arrived at our picking point and waited in a Somalian shop since it was showering. I saw my cousin making her way down the foot bridge and I waved at her. She smiled at me.

“Mufana wakuziva manje wauya wega” ( little one you now know your way to work) she said that smiling and hugging me.

“I’m not that dumb๐Ÿ˜„ lol๐Ÿ˜„” I laughed.
“I can see that, so its already five minutes before eight let’s go”

Well the day went well and it was a Thursday.

“Hope the train will not delay today” said one of the coloured as we made our way to the platforms.

We were ditching the gate because they didn’t want to pay not me. I was willing to do every legal thing and follow all the rules but my colleagues here were teaching me new things.

There was a way were the security fence were cut. So we were to squeeze through that little gap and run through railway lines. There were four to five lines and the risk of being hit by a train was very high but seems like people didn’t care. That eight Rand for the ticket was more important than their lives.

Anyway we succeeded in dodging the security but then the train delayed. A lot of people were filling every space of the waiting area. In South Africa, train is the cheapest mode of transport so everyone opted for it.

So as a newbee I was observing everything at the train station. All the benches were full so we were sitting at the edge of the platform with our legs hanging out to the railway lines. The security came and warned us and he actually showed us the barrier line not that I haven’t seen it in the first place. I have seen that line and read the cautious but I was too tired to follow those rules.
Anyway the train came and my cousin sister Diana told me that I should get in the train faster.
“The train is going to stop for a minute only so make sure that you get in ten seconds or else you won’t make it” she warned me.

As soon as the train stops, people started to squeeze each other to get in. My cousin was already in the train shouting to me to get in. I tried to push people making my way to the door. The clock was ticking and after a long struggle I managed to get hold of a steel that was near the door. The train started to move. Only one foot was in the train. Someone was pulling my jacket from my back and cursing. The other one was pushing me out. I tightened my grip on that steel. My life was depending on that steel. The guy who was pulling my jacket was too heavy for me and I was chocking because he was pulling the collar. He was cursing me and I recognized his tone. He was coloured (historically, mixed-race people have been referred to as ‘coloured’ in SA). His life was depending on me and my jacket.

I flinched as I looked down on the railways. I gripped my hands harder to that steel with agitation. I could imagine falling down and having my body grinded by those hot steel that made the railways. I did a silent prayer for protection. I didn’t know how much longer I was going to hold on with my neck choking.

After a kilometer, I found a space to put my other foot. Actually I found myself inside the train. I sighed.

We arrived in Bellville and my cousin said we have to jump platforms and dodge the security again. I managed to climb on another platform with the help of one of the coloureds but the problem started when we were running down the steps to an underground gate way. I started feeling dizzy. I was telling myself to run in order to keep up with others but I couldn’t. I was feeling drowsy. I tried to make another step and I was hearing different voices saying ” hlala pantsi sis
(sit down sister).
People could see that I want to fall but I was fighting it. There was no way I was going to sit in the way. People were running from the security and I was supposed to keep up with my sister who was likely to be at the taxi rank already by the time I recovered.

When I told my sister she banned me from using the train. I was now afraid of trains. I started taking taxis to and from work.

OUTSIDE ZIM BORDERS

WRITTEN BY PAULINE MACHENGO

Edited by Chris Walker

CHAPTER 9

Saturday morning saw me getting prepared to hit the mall for the first time. I woke up early getting ready to go to the nearest mall which is Gugulethu mall. I had seen how big it is on my way to work. It shared the same area with the taxi rank. I had admired it and promised to take myself there one day. So today was the day I was going to explore it.

I told my sister that I’m visiting the mall. My uncle was at the parking area and I told him that I was leaving for the mall. He wasn’t impressed. He was scared that since I was still new I could get lost or kidnapped. He insisted that I should go with at least one of my nieces. Two of them were excited about the idea.

“I’m gonna drive you to the mall but when you’re coming back don’t get into any car. Only the Avanzas. They are called pella. You should check first who is inside. Don’t just get in a car with only men” he warned me. Well l had known of those cars. My cousin sister had told me about them.

My uncle took us to the mall and he dropped us in front of KFC. He gave us money to treat ourselves and he left for work.

The moment I stepped out of the car I started panicking. There were a lot of people and cars at the mall since it was weekend. I thought the idea of bringing these two kids were good but I was now scared of losing them. Honestly we just got into KFC and bought our food and left.
I asked my elder niece our home address but her answer couldn’t help. The drivers for Pella’s (small taxis) where screaming to us Uyaphi sisi ( where are you going sister). That phrase was the first I mastered when I arrived in Capetown. Did I tell you about language barrier? Oh I was suffering.

Luckily the kids were able to speak isiXhosa that was relieving.

“Uyaphi sisi ” another driver asked us.
“108” I replied
“Phi 108” he asked again.
“What?” I asked him “yooh sisi” he drove off.

“What was he saying” I asked my nieces .
“He said where are you going” she replied
” I heard that, but what did he say next?” I snapped

” I wasn’t listening mainini” she said that without even worrying.

Great. So we didn’t know were we stay. I only knew that its 108 but that was when you’re coming from Bellville. I didn’t even know the bus stop name but I was brave enough to utter the word Enkosi driver which means thank you driver whenever I got to my bus stop. Now I didn’t know what to say. Only one option left was to walk back home following the direction we came from. The kids seemed to be impressed by the idea. They seem to be familiar with the place. That gave me hope.

The walking was not easy because the kids were so eager to be somewhere I had no idea of so much that they were running and l had to follow suit and shout to them to keep walking in the sidewalk since we were using the busy road.

They were so happy to be out finally after spent most of their time inside the gate and at school. So I was suffering the consequences.

After walking for a kilometer we finally arrived were they were speeding off to – the park.

“Mainini we are going inside there. Its so exciting you won’t regret it. There is a pool there and some swings” said the elder niece.

“What? Have you ever been here before?” I asked surprised.
“Yes mainini used to take us here” the younger one said.

“No let’s go home first. We will get lost” I told them
“We will not get lost. We know how to get home from here” she said.

“How far are we from home” I asked
“Not far . let’s get inside” she said that running towards the gate and her sister was crying and ask her to wait for her.

As much as I was opposed to the idea, I followed them because they were the navigators that was supposed to take my clueless body back home dead or alive.

So the day eventually turned to be the kid’s day out. That was not bad since they were so excited about that.
We finally arrived home with me carrying another kid. Did I mentioned that it was supper hot?.

My sister was so worried and I explained to her that we were at the park. I left the walking part. I don’t know if I forgotten to tell her or I didn’t want her to know that I had walked the kids such distance in such hot weather.

Since my first day at the mall was ruined, I organised for another day. I wasn’t gonna tell anyone where I was going. I didn’t want any journey crashers.

So my uncle had told me some safety tips: Always tell someone where you’re going.
If you’re lost just tell the driver you’re going to 108. Ask the driver to drop you off at Mzoli (a famous place in Gugulethu). He actually drove us there to show me. It was a walking distance from where we stay. Approximately 300 to 400m from home.

When we went there I saw that it was a small but funny place. People were doing barbecues and drinking. Even some tourists you could see them there. So it is a famous place in Capetown.

So since now I wanted to go to the mall, that piece of information was going to work. I could now tell the driver to drop me at Mzoli and finish the journey on foot. Better that way.

Well I explored the mall. It was exciting. I even grabbed a burger at MacDonald’s as my niece had once suggested (see http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/06/07/chapter-4-and-chapter-5-outside-zim-borders/ chapter 5). It was yummy. That day I was happy because I wasn’t going to walk a 3 km distance on foot.

I met my sister when I was walking from Mzoli that’s when I told her the truth that I didn’t know the name of our bus stop. She bursted with laughter. She couldn’t imagine that I could not ask for our bus stop.

Welcome to Capetown.

Updates…

Once more I am very grateful to Pauline for choosing to tell her story on here! Eager to find out more about her experiences? Keep an eye out for more in the future๐Ÿ‘

I am currently actively recruiting potential Trustees for Friends of Pakati as we are set to move towards a more formal footing. I have had 2 highly promising replies so far (more details later) and have asked others to see if they are interested. I think at this early stage, we dont need too many, either 3 or 5. I will naturally be one of the Trustees myself. An odd number is best for when issues need voting on.

The booklets for the Form 4 students at Pakati and Chanetsa Secondary schools are now being prepared, as it appears Vari at VaTonatsa Foundation, our partners in this venture, has now acquired all the relevant subject materials to proceed. All being well, delivery will be next weekend. A full report encompassing VaTonatsa’s review, along with delivery to the schools and comments from stakeholders and supporters, will be published soon after the delivery is complete.

Friends of Pakati – 6 month review

Greetings to our friends, followers, admirers, supporters, sponsors and donors of all kinds. As we are almost at the end of June 2020, I think it is a good time to review our activities and plans, especially as, like so many others across the world, they have had to change somewhat.

Firstly though, one thing that has not changed, is the vision set out at the beginning of 2020 – see https://friendsofpakati.com/2020-vision-friends-of-pakati-the-project-continues/ which develops further from our original purpose seen here – https://friendsofpakati.com/2019/01/04/my-project-for-2019/ to get some IT equipment out to both Pakati schools – successsfully carried out in September 2019. Below are some of the highlights of each month this year so far.

January.

Our first post of 2020 – http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/01/05/new-year-old-memories-plus-similar-problems/ highlighted some of the problems being faced by Pakati schools that have changed little in 30 years.

One of the things I started doing in an attempt to raise much-needed funds for Friends of Pakati is to lose weight. I did get some donations, but I have promises of more, including one of ยฃ50 when I pass 2 stones lost, and one of ยฃ1 for every 1lb when the measuring ends, both by work colleagues. Originally it was to be June 1st, but will continue until October 1st now. Started off at 113.4kg/17st 9lbs….made it down so far to 100.5kg/15st 11.5lbs in 22 weeks.

February

Early in February I had confirmation from the Stephenson Group from Leeds, who donated IT equipment last year, have more to donate for this year! Read about it here: http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/02/15/great-news-for-pakati-schools/

Sports – athletics in particular during this time of the year – are very important to Pakati. Last year’s donation of football shirts from Scunthorpe United for Primary students provided the setting for our most-viewed post so far – 886 views http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/02/17/pakati-primary-new-sports-tops-on-show-as-they-prepare-for-the-zonal-sports-competition/

We also covered items such as Trachoma prevention, AGM at Pakati Secondary, former Pakati teacher Debbie Chadbon preparing to fundraise for us in a 10km run, and Zonal sports for the Secondary. Little did we know what was to come…

March

We began March with more news on fundraising activities, sports news including some success for Pakati Secondary school – see http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/03/06/fantastic-news-pakati-student-wins-at-provincial-athletics-competition/ – the Primary school AGM, and a trip round the Pakati area http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/03/09/around-the-pakati-area/ .

We also introduced new people with Pakati connections… http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/03/07/saturday-star-mrs-maenzanise-former-teacher-at-pakati-primary-school/ and http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/03/14/mrs-agatha-joramu-fombo-former-pakati-student-now-a-pastor-in-mutare-zimbabwe/

Then Corona Virus/Covid 19 struck globally. Come mid-March we were already changing plans – http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/03/18/covid-19-updates/ and seeeing UK and Zimbabwe lockdowns.

Then we also saw the impact of the lockdowns on both Pakati schools and Mapanga Primary http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/03/28/life-in-the-area-still-goes-on-at-a-slower-pace/

April

As the lockdowns continue, Friends of Pakati still finds plenty to report on… including this post: http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/04/08/friends-of-pakati-lockdown-doesnt-stop-life-going-on/

We helped celebrate Easter under lockdown http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/04/12/%e2%9b%aaeaster-sunday-special%e2%9b%aa/ and met some new people through their profiles, especially Pauline Machengo – more on her later – and Vari Mayez, founder of VaTonatsa Foundation, which also appears further along this post. Pauline’s story was in 3 parts, including this first one during her time at Pakati Primary http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/04/18/saturday-star-profile-of-former-pakati-student-pauline-machengo-part-1/ and Vari’s profile can be seen here http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/04/25/saturday-star-vari-mayez-a-friend-of-pakati-under-lockdown-in-harare/ and learned of student life under lockdown courtesy of Mitchelle Karasa http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/04/29/locked-down-in-harare-suburbs-student-mitchell-karasa/

We relived the sponsored walk from a year ago to raise funds, and had a few lockdown laughs..

May

…then in May we asked for some donations, and talk of a forthcoming joint project with the afore-mentioned VaTonatsa Foundation, and we had the opening chapters of a much longer story from Pauline Machengo mentioned here http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/05/17/a-plea-for-help-in-these-unusual-times/

That post generated a follow-up in which the collaboration with VaTonatsa was explained http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/05/21/follow-up-to-the-plea-in-the-previous-post/ and confirmed in more detail in http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/05/28/friends-of-pakati-and-vatonatsa-foundation-working-together-to-help-students-in-3-rural-schools/

We also received donations from companies and individuals, including from Roj Rahman of Mortz Property Services, Magdalene Lafontant of Nakai Skincare and Cosmetics, along with former Teacher at Pakati Secondary, Debbie Chadbon.

June

This month has been characterised by two main themes – Pauline Machengo’s ongoing tale of her journey to and subsequent arrival in Cape Town, South Africa (most recent chapters seen here) http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/06/14/outside-zim-borders-chapters-6-and-7/ and the collaboration with VaTonatsa to provide support to exam year students at what has developed into 5 schools – Pakati Primary and Secondary, Mapanga Primary, and the recent addition of Chanetsa Primary and Secondary schools. http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/06/04/friends-of-pakati-and-vatonatsa-foundation-welcome-chanetsa-schools-on-board/

The material produced is in the form of a booklet for the students to use as additional learning and revision, across all subjects. The Primary booklets were completed http://friendsofpakati.com/2020/06/16/primary-booklets-are-ready/ and…. https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/06/21/delivery-of-the-primary-booklets/ have been distributed to the students at the 3 chosen Primary schools – Pakati, Chanetsa and Mapanga.

What do the schools think.about the booklets? Here is a comment from one of them: “

On behalf Mapanga Primary School Stakeholders, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for your kind gesture towards our Grade 7 Learners. The study packs are an answered prayer to our learners who had no study material to see them through the Covid-19 lockdown. Friends of Pakati, VaTonatsa Foundation, Councillor Maliki and all other contributors, we really appreciate your time, financial resources and commitment to make sure the booklet is compiled and distributed to the beneficiaries. As Mapanga Primary we assure you that we shall play our part in making sure the booklets are effectively used and maintained.
Thank you.”

With the Primary school booklets out of the way, completion of the joint initiative will be soon, as the Secondary material is now being produced. What next for Friends of Pakati? There is now a move to put it on a more formal footing, as I search for potential trustees to set it up as a charitable trust. This is the first step towards gaining status as a registered charity in the future. Once the process is well under way here in the UK, we will look to have a similar arrangement in Zimbabwe.

Also, as reported in a previous blog, schools in Zimbabwe are set to re-open gradually in the coming weeks, so we hope to report in depth on that from both Pakati schools, including the preparations being made by the Heads and staff. Hoping to see the return of normal life at the schools, under safe circumstances for all concerned. Reports and pictures to illustrate the stories will no doubt come our way. We will have to wait and see what happens about sports this year, as the main focus will be on exam students to begin with.

Many thanks to those who actively support and contribute to this blog, in particular my thanks go to Mr Mugove Chifaka and Mr Ambrose Mahachi, Heads of the two Pakati schools, their staff/colleagues, Mr Bothwell Riside, Lorraine Mapuranga and family, Councillor Israel Maliki, Debbie Chadbon, all who have sent in their profiles and photos, Pauline Machengo for her stories, Vari Mayez and all concerned with VaTonatsa Foundation, plus Mrs Maenzanise, Mr Kadzimu and Mr Mawedze, Heads of the 3 other participating schools in the recent joint initiative. Also, a huge ‘Thank You’ to all who give in cash or in kind including those seen here https://friendsofpakati.com/2019/03/18/sponsors-supporters-of-friends-of-pakati/ or support with spreading the word of Friends of Pakati๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

Delivery of the Primary booklets!

Thursday 18th June.

Today there has been an exchange of messages between Vari Mayez of our collaboration colleagues, VaTonatsa Foundation, the Heads of the Secondary schools at Pakati and Chanetsa, Councillor Israel Maliki of Ward 14 in Murewa District, and with myself.

The latest news is that we are struggling to get suitable material for some of the O Level (GCSE) sublects, so it has been decided to split the Secondary booklets into Volumes 1 & 2, in order to get something to those learners as soon as possible. As we source the remaining subject material then the 2nd volume will be produced. This may change however if we can get it all together in time.

Friday 19th June

Below is a message from Vari following discussions by phone between us over two days:

“Good day Chris.

I am happy to confirm that our plans to visit the three Primary schools are set.

Our Itinerary is as below:

After consultation with all stakeholders We can now confirm the following:

1-We will be coming on Sunday 21 June and we pick Mr Maliki and proceed to the 3 schools :
โ–ถ๏ธFirst stop is Pakati (ETA is 930am)
โ–ถ๏ธSecond stop is Chanetsa (ETA is 1100)
โ–ถ๏ธ Last stop is Mapanga ETA is 1300
Then we conclude the trip.

In terms of representation I will be going plus Celia I once shared her in that picture if you recall.
My aunt is still here in Harare for treatment so her Deputy will receive for Mapanga.

Will share photos – am currently swamped!”

Saturday 20th June.

There are protocols to follow when things are donated, and as Friends of Pakati followed those protocols last year, it is courtesy we follow them again. Below is the letter produced by VaTonatsa Foundation to request acceptance on behalf of Pakati Primary: one was also produced for Chanetsa and Mapanga Primaries.

Sunday 21st June.

Vari Mayez on her way to Pakati Primary for the first delivery!

Delivery Day for the Primary schools! First stop – Pakati Primary…

In the pictures are Mr Mahachi, Headteacher, as well as Mr Chakanyuka (teacher) on his own, seated. Vari Mayez and Councillor Maliki are seen handing over booklets to some staff and students at Pakati Primary school.

This from Mr Mahachi: “…We wish to thank Friends of Pakati and the VaTonatsa Foundation for their consideration, especially during this time of the covid induced lockdown. They have truly shown they are our all weather friends. They have dedicated their time and resources to our cause. We shall be forever greatful. Their assistance will go a long way in mitigating against the effects of the lockdown to our 2020 candidates. We hope thee students will work hard to revise and read the study pack. We had opened a WhatsApp group to share ideas and give the grade 7 learners some homework during the lockdown but we realised just around half of the 78 candidates had access to smart phones and of that half only less than 10 learners were affording the mobile data. What it means is that just less than 10 learners were being assisted by the WhatsApp group. The intervention of the study pack makes information and learning material be accessible to all candidates. On behalf of Pakati Primary learners, staff and parents we are greatly thankful to this gesture, especially for those who masterminded the initiative and took their time to make sure that the idea materialised.”

Next, on to Chanetsa Primary…

Mr Kadzimu sent this message to Friends of Pakati and Vatonatsa Foundation – “…..the books arrived, about 70 of them. God bless you for your generosity this will go a long way in improving our passrate.”

Councillor Maliki can be seen along with Chanetsa Head Mr Kadzimu and Vari Mayez, plus Celia also of VaTonatsa, helping to distribute some melons as a snack.

Finally, to Mapanga Primary.

In the pictures can be seen Mr Vhuso (Deputy Head at Mapanga – yellow t-shirt) receiving the booklets from Vari Mayez. Also Headgirl Tanith Chatambudza is seen on her own with a booklet.

Headteacher Mrs Maenzanise sent us this message: “…I’m just overwhelmed by the noble gesture”.

All in all, it looks like a great day at all 3 schools! Sadly I was not able to be there to witness the handovers, but I am delighted that Vari and Councillor Maliki have visited the schools and overseen the donations. Thank you!๐Ÿ‘

Primary booklets are ready!

Further to our earlier posts https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/06/04/friends-of-pakati-and-vatonatsa-foundation-welcome-chanetsa-schools-on-board/ and https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/06/10/collaboration-a-progress-report/ we have more to report. First up – picture and comments from Vari Mayez of VaTonatsa Foundation:

“This photo (above) is from Lisa, the lady doing our binding at Lonoc projects in Harare. Production ongoing but seems to be taking longer than anticipated due to some technical issues. We anticipate the binding will be completed for the Primary school booklets very soon.”

The quote above was from earlier today (Tuesday 16th June), the pictures below are from later this afternoon.

Currently, as the Primary school papers are now complete, we are waiting for confirmation that the materials for the Secondary school booklets have all been delivered to VaTonatsa, so that the final product can be ready soon. Once we have all the booklets for all 5 schools – Pakati Primary and Secondary, Mapanga Primary, plus Chanetsa Primary and Secondary – then VaTonatsa will take them for the SDC’s to distribute to their students.

Vari further writes:
“I think that when they are distributed a list is made, and each student signs to acknowledge receipt then when they clear at end of year they return. I am thinking if we manage to get more donations or change we can donate exercise books so they work separately and not inside the booklets!”

Here are some of the messages exhanged between the Author and Vari during this afternoon:

[16/06, 14:35] Vari Mayez: ….So you will need more pics, will send some later today as I pass through to collect the finished ones
[16/06, 14:36] 610909: yes please if you can that would be great๐Ÿ‘
[16/06, 14:37] 610909: how much is left to come from the Secondaries?
[16/06, 14:38] Vari Mayez: Mr Chifaka sent me one more so I need him to confirm my response, we were chatting just now
[16/06, 16:35] Vari Mayez: Am glad you like it, am looking for boxes to pack them well
[16/06, 16:35] Vari Mayez: Then will share
[16/06, 16:37] 610909: ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘thank you. am putting the blog together now, i can wait a while for the pics of boxed up packs
[16/06, 17:01] Vari Mayez: Awesome
[16/06, 17:03] 610909: you and your colleagues have done an awesome job ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘
[16/06, 17:04] Vari Mayez: Thank you
[16/06, 17:05] 610909: You are most welcome. Please pass my thanks on behalf of Friends of Pakati and all who are associated with us.

Any further donations can be made either via our PayPal account – see the links at the side and foot of this blog – or at http://gofundme.com/friends-of-pakati

We are looking forward to the completion of the Secondary school material, then final delivery to the schools, and to the students. More on this as I get confirmation and pictures.

Outside Zim Borders – Chapters 6 and 7

Pauline arrives in Cape Town! The start of her South African adventures are described here in these next 2 chapters. Enjoy…

OUTSIDE ZIM BORDERS

WRITTEN BY PAULINE MACHENGO

Edited by Chris Walker

CHAPTER 6

In Bloemfontein the temperature dropped to 3ยฐC. It was breezy outside and that was our recess station. Many people including me didn’t get off the bus because of the cold temperature. I saw Tinashe the nervous guy was now clinging to a baby towel which I assumed that he was given by the woman who was sitting not far from him. I was wearing socks and high cuts tennis shoes but I couldn’t feel my feet because of the cold. I felt pity for Tinashe who was only wearing some pushes (plimsolls). People had now taken their blankets from the shelves. Uncle covered me with another blanket. I had heard my sister complaining about winter in Cape Town. I wasn’t gonna survive this cold weather. This was going to kill me.

We arrived in Worcester at 7am. Uncle got off the bus because he stays in Worcester, which is a vineyard full of grapes, and uncle said he was a guard at one of the farms. No wonder why he was so well built.

We left Worcester for Paarl. We were blessed with nice views of the wine lands. When uncle left I was so hurt. I felt like a part of me had been ripped off. I was already missing him. Up to now I don’t understand why I felt so empty.

Tinashe had moved to sit with me because he was using my phone to communicate with his sister in Cape Town.
“We are now approaching the famous tunnel in South Africa. The Huguenot Tunnel.” He said that looking so excited.
“Really, have you seen it before?” I asked smiling at him.
“No. My sister always talked about it and I read about it too. Its so huge and long” he explained to me.
“Were you in school?” I asked curiously.
” hahha, l left school a while ago. I was now a rank Marshal. You know those kombies (taxis) to Mt Pleasant? ” I nodded.
“Yeah, that’s the kombies I was working with. I was a hwindi (taxi rank conductor)” he smiled revealing his perfect teeth. Gosh only a toothbrush would make this smile a killer.

By now we were driving through mountainous area. The road was constructed in mountains. It was so narrow and steep. We could see a nice vineyard from below us. The bus was moving slowly and the driver was doing a great job maneuvering those scary roads. I hate heights. I was so anxious.

From where we were we could see the tunnel just below us. So as the bus descended from the mountains that’s when you enter the tunnel. So dangerous but I was reading the rules. 90 km/h.

“See that mountain there. That pass?” Tinashe said that pointing to one of the mountains near the tunnel. I said yes and he said its called Du Toitskloof Pass.

“Can you imagine that they actually spent R125.000.000 constructing that pass.” He said.
“What? That’s a lot of money for such a pass” I said that looking through the window in order to see the pass clearly.

“Yeah its 48 km long. It took them four solid years to complete it”. He informed me.

” wow. I guess they employed thousands of workers ” I said.
“Come to think of it, only 500 Italian prisoners built that pass.”

“What? When was that?” I asked really shocked.
” It was built from 1884 to 1888.You know this Huguenot tunnel drastically reduces the distance from the old pass by 11 km. This is a short cut”

Well I was amazed by his knowledge. He must be a genius. By that time we were now in the tunnel. Huguenot Tunnel is 3.9 km long. Its a two way. Its clearance is 5m and you can drive at 90 km/h.
Such a distance in a tunnel. One can be so anxious.

After spending 4 minutes in the tunnel we finally saw the light lol. I remembered that saying ‘ there is light at the end of the tunnel’. I smiled to myself thinking that the person who came up with that saying must have had come across this Huguenot Tunnel.

We reached Paarl and some people got off the bus. The assistant announced that we will stop in Cape Town first and then proceed to Bellville. My sister told me that I should get off in Bellville. They will be waiting for me there.

Cape Town is so well built. I could see some nice and tall buildings but I didn’t see much since there was a fog.

“Look at this tall building. I’m telling you I will come and take pictures here” said Tinashe pointing to one of the biggest buildings written Civic Centre.

“Haha you should come with me”
” where are you going to be staying? ” he asked.
“Montana, I don’t know I will tell you” I said that.
“So next week we can go to the beach right? I want many photos”

“Ummm I can’t promise but we will hang out soon” l said that sending my friend a message telling him that I had arrived in Cape Town.

He was calling me throughout my journey. He stayed also in Cape Town so he promised to pick me up in Bellville.
I’m at the airport. Not far from Bellville. I will be there soon he texted back.

So from Cape Town we used Voortrekker Road. I was reading the names. I remember passing Maitland, Parow then Bellville. Finally I was on my way to the part of Cape Town where I would stay.

OUTSIDE ZIM BORDERS

written by Pauline Machengo

Edited by Chris Walker

CHAPTER 7

“This is Cape Town international airport. Maybe next time you might want to fly back home lol” That was my friend Kudzai who was showing me the airport as we drove by on Robert Subukwe Road on our way to Montana.

“Oh yeah I just saw the plane landing. I will come one day to see this” I said that feeling so excited. I opened the window so that I could have a nice view.

In Zimbabwe the airport is in Harare and I came from a small town outside Harare. I had never been at the airport before or see an aeroplane landing. The only time I saw a plane a little bit closer is when I was in Waterfalls (suburb of Harare) at my brother’s place.

“And the Kombies they look the same” I remarked.

“Hahaha here they’re called taxis not kombies” that was my sister. She had come to pick me up in Bellville so we were now driving to her house in Kudzai’s car.

“Yeah the taxis looks all the same. I once thought that it belongs to one person. My brother laughed at me when I said the taxi owner must be filthy rich with all thousands of taxis” I laughed hard. I thought that too but luckily I didn’t say it out.

In Zimbabwe a taxi owner can put the same symbol or same words on their taxis. For example in Macheke we once had a Legacy 1, Legacy 2&3.

So in South Africa all the taxis have a flag drawn just below the passenger window spreading towards the door.

We arrived home and I was so excited to meet my nieces. The first born was in school by that time. I was so tired. I had a bus leg lol. Three day journey in a bus was so tiresome. I took a long bath and a rest. I was awakened when my elder niece came back from school. She actually cried lol. She was so overwhelmed.

The following day Kudzai came to see me. We were sitting in his car at our gate when my cousin sister popped in to inform me that there was a vacancy at her work place in Brackenfell. She is a tailor. They were having a lot of orders from their clients so they were hiring.

” You’re lucky, just after two days of your arrival you’re now employed. Many people spent two to three months without jobs” Kudzai said that adjusting his car seat.

“But I’m still tired and its raining heavy I wonder if I will be fit to go to work tomorrow” I said that whilst massaging my legs.

“You better be fit and go because jobs are no longer easy to find here. So do you have transport money? I will give you R150 for a start I don’t have much money now” said Kudzai.

He opened the glove box and took R200 and gave me. “That’s all I have for now. I bought fuel, a full tank on my way here.

” Thanks so much I’m really grateful” l said that putting the money in my pocket.

We bade our farewells and I went back inside to rest. Tomorrow I was starting a new job.

The song it ain’t me from Selena Gomez woke me up. My uncle had set that song as his alarm tone. I was thankful for that. I checked the time it was 5am. I was leaving for work at 6:20. I prepared and exactly 6:20 my cousin was at my house. We left for the bus stop another experience started there.

In the morning the taxis collect people from the road to the taxi rank where people will be standing in the queue respectively waiting for their taxis.

Unlike in Zimbabwe, South Africa is organised when it comes to taxis. No pressurizing each other. Everyone has to join the queue. We got into a taxi to Bellville and we took another taxi from Bellville to Brackenfell. We arrived at our pick up point at 7:39. My cousin said her boss will come and pick up with her car to her house.

Whilst we were waiting for our transport I discovered that we were at a fire point where people go and wait for the whites to come and get them if they want workers. I saw cleaners, gardeners and builders all waiting impatiently to be picked.

“So does all these people get to be picked up or?” I asked my cousin.
“No. Not everyone, some will go back home without being picked up. It’s kinda lucky game. Some get employed permanently” she explained to me.

“Our transport will be here anytime. Let me tell you my boss has a big cat at her house and some tortoises so please don’t make fun remarks about them” she warned me.
“What? Some tortoises? You mean she has tortoise as a pet?” I was surprised. In Zimbabwe or as Africans keeping a tortoise is kinda taboo. People could black paint you as a witch. Well I promised her that I won’t make nasty comments. I was going to keep my opinions to myself.

As we were waiting, we were joined by another two coloureds ladies whom my cousin works with. I was surprised to see them smoking. I made that fun look and my cousin just laughed at me and telling those ladies that I’m surprised. See in Zimbabwe if you’re a lady and you smoke it simply means you’re considered a prostitute. Cigarettes were only meant for men not women.

Our transport came and we took off to our working place….

There is a lot more still for Pauline to tell us about in this remarkable story….I am very intrigued by what is to come in the next few chapters.

Also to come on this blog soon is more about our collaboration with VaTonatsa Foundation, as they prepare the Secondary school matetial for the students at Pakati and Chanetsa. The coming re-opening of schools in Zimbabwe will mean new stories and pictures will also come, showing the new reality of life at both Pakati schools for students and staff alike.

Collaboration – a progress report

Friends of Pakati and VaTonatsa Foundation are currently co-operating in an initiative to help 274 students at 5 schools in Ward 14, Murewa, supporting exam class students during the current lockdown. Full details can be seen in a recent blog post on here – https://friendsofpakati.com/2020/06/04/friends-of-pakati-and-vatonatsa-foundation-welcome-chanetsa-schools-on-board/ and other previous posts.

From Vari Mayez (founder, VaTonatsa Foundation) came the following information and photos showing some of the behind-the-scenes activities. with colleagues at VaTonatsa working on the material provided to help the 3 Primary schools of Chanetsa, Mapanga and of course Pakati.

Chiedza, one of the volunteers at VaTonatsa Foundation, is seen above editing and preparing the Primary/Grade 7 booklets online.

From Vari -“These are the papers as per google drive shared from Mr Mahachi (Head, Pakati Primary school). There are mixed papers, so we are copying and pasting to a new word document so that they follow sequence, as in grouping all agriculture papers together and the same for all other modules”

“As you can see the papers are mixed. The screenshot is of the email sent by Mr Mahachi with the papers”

Here is the front cover of the booklets being produced for Grade 7/Primary school students. Looks great!

Vari can be seen beginning to print the papers for the Primary schools.

One of the papers being printed is for Grade 7 Maths. There are many pages being printed and sorted, ready to go for binding later today.

Here is the Spinal Binding machine which the booklets will be completed on, and an example of how they should look when completed.

Above is the front page headline of today’s Herald, Zimbabwe’s main national daily newspaper. It gives us the impetus to get the work done as soon as possible, as schools are set to return in 3 weeks time for all exam year groups.

All the above work is for the 3 Primary schools listed – Chanetsa, Mapanga and Pakati. Also happening is the work on Secondary school material for both Chanetsa and Pakati. I got the following message from Mr Chifaka (Head of Pakati Sec) this morning:

“Hi Chris. Have been in touch with Vari and I sent her the first lot of exams which are :
English paper 1 & 2
History paper 1 & 2
Heritage studies 1
Maths paper 1
I will set Commerce 2
I am working hard to mobilise for the outstanding papers, as many teachers are not yet around.”

Vari of VaTonatsa is also looking online to see if any of the gaps can be filled in easily to speed up production of the material for the Secondary schools.

More details and pictures of the work on material for Secondary schools, including delivery to the schools, will come in a future blog post.

Above are some if the people associated with VaTonatsa Foundation. Left to Right: 1- Vari Mayez . 2 – Mildred (next to Vari) is a Trustee and Legal Director, she is a lawyer by Profession. 3 – Celia will assist us to transport the packs to the schools. 4 – Mrs Maenzanise, Head of Mapanga Primary school. 5 – Chiedza Manhera, volunteer.

**Further news**

I have recently recieved Chapters 6 and 7 of Pauline Machengo’s extraordinary story ‘Outside Zim Borders’ currently being released exclusively here on Friends of Pakati. She has also included more photos, in Cape Town, to illustrate the story well. The chapters are being edited, and will be released before too long.

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’๐Ÿ˜„. 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 ยฃ600, 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 ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„ 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 me๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ. 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 answered๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ. 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…๐Ÿ™„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.