Students enjoying life at the Resource Centre
Starting Term 2
The start of the term at Makomborero brings with it lots of excitement and this term was no different. When we started the term with our enthusiastic staff, volunteers and students, we had no idea that we were about to face one of our hardest terms yet. Covid-19 hit closer to home than ever before. With the support of our board members, we were continuously challenged to come up with effective ways of keeping students and staff safe. As expected, this involved making some tough decisions. Emotionally and mentally, this term has taken a lot out of students and staff. We felt very blessed to have been able to draw on each other through the term. Parents and guardians were gracious and supportive as we navigated new territory. We are truly grateful for this. Staff played a huge part in making sure the day to day runnings of Makomborero remained as they should. This was most appreciated especially taking into consideration that for one reason or another, we have not been able to run on a full complement of staff at any point this term.
Online learning continues
There was general disappointment around schools not being able to remain open at the beginning of June and much hope that online learning would not last the full term. Students physically attended school for only five weeks before they had to go back online. At the time of writing this report, schools are still closed and all learning continues to be carried out online. We continue to support our external students with wifi bundles to assist them with online learning where online learning is possible/available. We are so pleased to let you know that the Makomborero learning app was finally launched at the start of May 2021. It has proved to be a necessity and has been very well received by our external students. Under the supervision of Mr Albertyn, our Gap Year students Yeukai and Milton designed and developed the app which is loaded with resources including notes, worksheets and past exam papers. These materials would normally be difficult to find and would generally come at a cost that our external students would not be able to meet. The app works completely offline making it greatly accessible to our students. Each student was given a tablet with the app pre-loaded and a 128Gb memory card to add any other study materials of their choice. We are very grateful for the donation of the tablets and the long hours Yeukai and Milton put into the app. When the students gathered to collect their tablets, they were also given some donated clothes and food parcels.
Our partner schools Hellenic, St George's and Gateway have continued to provide our internal students with excellent online lessons. Our Lower Sixth students, initially daunted by online lessons are now quite used to learning in this way. Well done to them and to our Upper Sixth students for doing their mock exams from the boarding house. We are aware that this is completely different from the norm and takes some mental strength and integrity. We are proud of you!
In our Term 1 newsletter we were not able to give you the Zimsec A-Level results as we normally would. We are pleased to let you know that despite the many difficult challenges that our external students faced, they did extremely well in their exams. In total, our students had 17As, 8Bs and 5Cs. We are very proud of them for these excellent results.
Our 2020 leavers did not get to experience the normal two years at Makomborero that other students would have. Activities such as the annual camp, community service and hiking in Domboshava, which are annual staples, all had to be cancelled due to Covid-19. A social had been planned for the 2020 leavers for the beginning of this year. We hoped it would be a time for them to have a reunion as well as say goodbye as they would all be going off to different universities. Unfortunately this too had to be cancelled as the lockdown restrictions would not allow for gatherings. We are grateful for technology and social media which has availed platforms for the leavers to keep in touch with us and with each other. Here is a quick update of how our twenty 2020 Upper Sixth students are doing. 6 students were accepted at local universities. 9 students are taking a gap year, 4 students were accepted at USA universities and one student is waiting for a response from a local university. We are truly pleased to see them launch into ‘adult’ life and wish them well in their studies whether they are taking them on this year or next year.
Our local university students have also had a disrupted second semester. They had to have online lectures and many are finding this difficult to cope with. Some of the challenges include power cuts and internet provider network issues. Some exams had to be postponed and those who needed to carry out practical work did this under much pressure as they had limited time on campus due to the lockdown restrictions. On the bright side, some students are grateful they have longer to study for their exams. We have continued to support our university students with university fees, wifi bundles and stipends. This would not be possible without our sponsors and we are very grateful!
We are thankful for the opportunities we have to continue to keep in touch with our university students who are studying outside of Zimbabwe. It goes without saying that wherever our students are in the world, they are affected by Covid-19. It is particularly difficult for those who are not able to travel to see family because of the travel restrictions. Our students abroad often find themselves supporting family at home, we have observed that the need for such has been higher this year. The burden of not being able to meet family needs at home can have quite a negative impact and Makomborero has been involved in assisting such students and families where possible.
The Alumni programme which was started during the last year continues to play a great role in keeping past students in touch with each other and serving the A’Level students with the mentorship programme.
We were able to hold a few Girl Child sessions from the beginning of April. Sessions had to stop in June as the lockdown restrictions did not allow for gatherings. We however managed to have the much loved Girl Child lunch on the last Saturday of May 2021. It was wonderful to see staff, mentors and mentees gather together. There were lots of laughs and a wonderful talk from Mrs Albertyn. Each mentor and mentee walked away with three sanitary pants and a menstrual cup as well as a food hamper. We know these goodies are life changing for the girls and we are extremely grateful to those who have made it possible. Our focus during the rest of the term has been making sure that all necessary craft and teaching materials are in place for whenever Girl Child sessions are able to resume.
Mobile Science Lab sessions took place from the last Saturday in March to the end of April. The students had a great time having fun practicals with ‘Mr T’. Our Science teachers and interns have taken advantage of the long break by doing inventories as well as cleaning apparatus. We are looking forward to a time when lessons can resume as we feel students benefit hugely from this project.
Ndeipi started off with some great sessions at the end of the first term. We have had some lovely donations of baby items which will be sold to Ndeipi participants at heavily discounted prices so they can sell them on for a profit. Participants have been keeping in touch with our administrator Mrs Chikowore via a Whatsapp group, they are all looking forward to seeing eachother in person again.
Our UZ residence is still an ongoing project. We had hoped to have everything completed by the end of July. Unfortunately the progress has been slow as the building had to be used by A-Level students for six weeks during the months of June and July to help with social distancing and to fulfill Covid-19 requirements. Staff that were over-seeing the project have not always been available and contractors were often tied by the shorter working hours. Despite the delay, we feel we are getting back on track. We will not be able to take in students this year but there is hope that we will be able to do so in January 2022.
A final sign off
Term 2 2021 has been a challenging and humbling time at Makomborero Zimbabwe. Never have our family values been put to test as much as they have been in this term. At some point it felt as if students and staff continually dealt with sickness and loss. We are so grateful for the support that came from each other as well as parents/guardians and board members. Mr and Mrs Albertyn were able to organise a therapy session for internal students and staff and this went a long way in helping to deal with the trauma that some had gone through.
It was not easy to keep things ‘normal’ at the boarding house. However, Life Skills sessions and newly introduced Book Study sessions continued in person when possible or via Zoom when this was not possible. Mr and Mrs Albertyn visited the boarding house and managed to spend some time with the students. The term has just ended with a fantastic week of activities put together and led by Yeukai and Milton. The internal students enjoyed painting, sport, walks and a braai.
A huge thank you to all our donors! We know we say this every term but we really could not have done this term without you. Your impact went far beyond what you could imagine. You helped to keep our students protected, fed, clothed, entertained and encouraged. We felt incredibly supported by all your donations, often humbled by your generosity which often seemed to come just when we needed it the most. We are privileged to have your support and look forward to the next part of the journey with you.
The Girls attending the GMP Lunch
Fun in the grounds
Our UZ accommodation