A team from the Brighter Horizons project departed on Monday 22nd June 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. After many hours negotiating local roads and stops on the way to chat with locals, they arrived to the warmest welcome imaginable. Met by the school and its head teacher, Ms Mhetu, the children had made a welcome banner and a welcome ceremony followed including pupils from the Nemauku Primary School, parents, village elders, elected officials and the Area Chief gave a blessing for the project.
During the visit the team stayed in a house within the local village and worked with the villagers daily to paint all the school buildings inside and out. It was some undertaking but was completed in a few days. The immense sense of community and new friendships being forged, no doubt helped whilst working in soaring temperatures. The completed school now leaves the pupils and teachers with a fresh and colourful school for them to work in.
In the evenings there were various sporting activities such as volleyball and football and an opportunity to seal friendships through sport. On the Sunday all were invited to an open-air church service held in honour of the visitors. It was an open-air service as so many people attended, and the local buildings would not have been able to hold everyone who came. There was much singing and dancing throughout the visit and some of our team joined in with the local women’s traditional dancing. In the afternoon the team were escorted to see the Ancient Ruins of Great Zimbabwe, this was a hike up a 750ft hill in the heat, but all agreed it was well worth the climb.
One of the key aims of the trip was also to meet with members of the Zimbabwean education system and to talk through the need for Nemauku to be connected with electricity to the school and clinic. On the last day in Harare two of the team appeared on ZBC (the Zimbabwean news television channel). The team then met with the MP for the district of Zaka who assured them that the electricity meters were being installed at the school and clinic during the next week and that the roads would receive some much needed attention, this grand gesture to the people of Nemauku came about because of the impressive work and commitment the team showed to the locality. This is a massive step forward and will bring many benefits to the villagers. The villagers had also been suffering from a drought and food was not so readily available. Since the team departed, each family who has a pupil at school, has been gifted a bag of rice – this was met with overwhelming, heartfelt thanks from the families. The team also met with the twenty-one children who are on our scholarship programme at Nemauku Primary School and after this meeting one of the team said:
‘The highlight was meeting the pupils that are on our scholarship programme. The vast majority of whom are orphans and very vulnerable. It was great to see how hard they are working despite tragedies in their home lives and how they were making the most of the opportunity to go to school. It feels like such a small thing that we are doing, but for each of these children it has opened the door to education, and hopefully to a brighter future’
On the last day with the villagers and pupils of Nemauku, the team hosted a Feast and Football Tournament. Over 2000 people came and there were prizes awarded to the winners of the tournament. Speeches were made and goodbyes (for now) were said. The team then started their journey home, full of ideas, new friendships and memories, but mainly excitement for the future and the opportunities it brings here in Banffshire and in a small remote village school in Zimbabwe.
If you wish to find out more about the project then please go to the blog and see the hard work and follow the progress made at Nemauku Primary School at: brighterhorizonszimbabwe.blogspot.co.uk