Our team of volunteers from the global exchange and community project run by Brighter Horizons embarked on a return visit to the small village of Nemauku in Zimbabwe with an impressive agenda for 10 days.
The team departed on Tuesday 24th May and made the 36 hour journey by various flights and long drives to head for the small village of Nemauku in Zimbabwe, about 4.5 hours’ drive from Harare. The return visit for 2016 saw the main project being to build a new classroom for the Additional Support Needs children who attend the local primary school, previously these children were squeezed into a tiny hut for their lessons. Huge thanks must go to AJ Rennie Builders Ltd of Banff, who donated funds to cover all the building material costs for the new classroom. Their incredibly generous donation will make a massive difference to the lives of the children requiring additional support in their education.
Brighter Horizons not only provides scholarships for 20 pupils to attend the primary school, but also provides a scholarship for one young girl, Primrose, to attend a private high school. The team visited with her to hear and see how she is enjoying her education. Primrose’s ailing father, who suffers from heart disease, managed to walk a few miles to the school to meet the team. He wanted to thank them personally. He said; “No words can express the joy in my heart. Thank you for the support Brighter Horizons is giving to Primrose. I am ill but happy now Primrose got this chance and maybe she will also help the family in future.” One of the team also expressed how he was struck by a 10 year old girl who is on the scholarship programme at the primary school. This young girl manages school whilst being the head of the family, looking after younger siblings and running the homestead. A truly thought provoking moment.
The building of the new Additional Support Needs classroom was one of the main projects for 2016. Previously the facilities for these children were very cramped and not conducive to learning for the children or for the teachers having to teach in them. The project had started before the team of volunteers arrived and there were 21 builders, roofers and flooring experts who provided the main expertise for the new building. Many others helped by carrying sand and water from nearby reserves, even the school children helped to collect water during their lunch break, such is the community spirit of pulling together. One of the team said; “I think we were more of a distraction than a help at times, but we did our best.” The official opening service was conducted by the Local Authority District Officer, the Headman/Chief of Nemauku and the MP for Zaka Central. About 40 pupils will use the new classroom regularly; the old classroom will now house the computer lab for pupils to use.
There were two other highlights for the trip, those being a visit to Victoria Falls for the 20 pupils on the primary school scholarship scheme and a football tournament and feast for the village. Thanks must go to Deveron Youth FC and Macduff Lions FC for donating full youth strips for the school pupils to use. Thanks also go to Celebrations of Turriff and Kastille of Turriff who both donated funds towards the trip to Victoria Falls.
The trip to Victoria Falls was a huge hit with pupils and teachers. One of the pupils said “The funniest thing for me on the Victoria Falls trip was seeing the elephants and lions in the wild, and the massive water falling (translated).” One of the teachers said; “Pupils will cherish the experience of visiting the Victoria Falls for the rest of their lives” he went on to say; “Apart from the amazing views of the Victoria Falls that the children and us teachers enjoyed, the trip will now make our geography lessons richer and more real.”
The football tournament was a huge success with three schools taking part; these were Muparuri Primary School, Muchechetere Primary School and the host Nemauku Primary School. Our three volunteers acted as referees. Nemauku primary emerged the winners after the “round-robin” tournament. Their school won US $250 and the other two teams won US $50 for their school to spend. Everyone received medals, including the team coaches.
During the visit, the team of volunteers delivered first aid training, computer training, some lessons on Scottish history and more about our culture. The first aid training was very well received. All staff at Nemauku primary School attended and four representatives from the other local primary schools and high school. One teacher said; “Thank you for thinking of us teachers too, we believe in life-long learning.” He went on to say: “I have seen children and colleagues needlessly die in schools because nobody knew how to provide first aid and the medical services are unreliable in these rural regions.”
Laptop computers were donated to the school by Brighter Horizons and they have been provided with a dongle so that they can link up with us. The children will all benefit from computer lessons, especially the P6/P7 pupils who will receive computer lessons before moving to high school. The children were able to see computers in action as they watched a movie “The Lion King” projected onto the wall. For many this was a first-time experience and they were delighted with it.
The team are setting plans in place for 2017 where it is hoped that this community initiative will be ready to include both young people and adult volunteers from our local towns. They had talks with local MP’s, village elders and chiefs about the project and how we can continue to develop what has become a successful global exchange and community project. One of the team volunteers on returning said; “It really felt this year that we were becoming part of the community and part of the family at Nemauku.”
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