Jun 29, 2021

NDEIPI? - Changing Outlooks to a Positive One!

NDEIPI? Session
NDEIPI? Session

It was very exciting to resume the Ndeipi! training this term. As with many projects, Covid-19 delayed the re-launch but we had eager parents and guardians of both our past and current students who signed up for the training with 22 attending the training workshop. This term we have held 2 2-hour sessions so far, with the aim of holding 6 sessions in total. Makomborero provides money for transport for all participants as well as refreshments during breaks.

Due to the extraordinary circumstances caused by the Corona virus pandemic, we have had to adher to all government Covid19 guidelines. This meant providing masks and, hand sanitisers, exercising social distancing during the workshops and indivdually packing all refreshments.

The 1st session of the NDIEPI? Course is always an introductory session with Instructor Chris giving an overview of what Ndeipi! is all about. He gives each participant a notebook and pen to record everything from the time they start the project. They are taught good stewardship and the importance of accountability in any business.

What is mind blowing about Ndeipi? is how the participants learn to start a business with as little as $1. In Zimbabwe, this sounds outrageous! $1 would not buy a day's food, let alone start a business!! This is always a trigger for many questions from the participants about how this is even possible. As the meeting progresses, there is more engagement from the attendees, as they are taught to think outside the box. More ideas are shared and projects start forming in their minds. After the 1st session, the participants are tasked, as part of their homework, to consider what projects they could set their hand to.

The sessions that follow are filled with developing projects that many would never think possible. The participants are given $1 as starting capital and then tasked to invest the money into the proposed projects. Then as the term progresses, everyone will learn more about the progress of each of the projects as the participants come and make presentations about their activities, with the next presentation session taking place on 5th July.

We are particularly grateful this year to have received a donation of some lovely baby clothes that will go to Ndeipi? project participants as a capital injection. Makomborero sorted and packed the clothes in bags to allow them to be distributed to some of the participants to sell and boost their projects in the next session.

We look forward to seeing how the various projects progress and will share the news in the next upate. Thank you for your support with this project and helping us to change the outlook of the participants for the better and to build hope.

Covid-adherent refreshment packs
Covid-adherent refreshment packs
Generous donation of baby clothes
Generous donation of baby clothes
Clothes sorted and ready for distribution!
Clothes sorted and ready for distribution!

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May 21, 2021

All Smiles on the Mood Meter!

Mood meter
Mood meter

The mood meter at Makomborero Zimbabwe went up a hundred notches on Saturday 10th April 2021 when we were finally able to hold our first Girl Child session after nearly 14 months of not being able to meet!! In case you are wondering what the mood meter is, it is something that was introduced to us by our co-founder Laura Albertyn, fondly known as Mrs A. We use it often at Makomborero Zimbabwe to gauge how people are feeling before and after a meeting or a session. In the case of Girl Child, the mentees draw a face on the white board before the meeting and another after the meeting. It’s often good fun and a great way of hearing from those who wouldn’t otherwise be vocal about their feelings.

 

Preparation 

The last few reports have felt like we mostly spoke about how much preparation was going into the time when sessions could finally resume. Part of this preparation was recruiting new mentors from our past Makomborero Zimbabwe students. We were so pleased with how many past students were keen on mentoring and the excitement and dedication that they have brought into the programme.

 

Mentoring mentors

There were some fun times to be had while we trained our mentors. Training was done online as lockdown restrictions meant gatherings were not permitted. This worked well as most mentors were able to play the recorded messages in their own time and discussions were held as a group on Whatsapp. We had a Mentor’s Quiz Night that saw existing mentors, new mentors and Makomborero staff exchange over 700 messages as we all tried to get to know each other better and equip each other for the year ahead. It was a great laugh! The prize was a bar of chocolate and it went to our trainee mentor Tadiwa.

 

Recruiting mentees   

There was much excitement amongst Makomborero staff, mentors and staff at partner schools when it was becoming clear that sessions were going to begin in March/April 2021. We had to move the start date a few times as the reality of what it would take to orchestrate everything unfolded. Our partner schools are all based in the high density areas, they have huge classes of sometimes over 60 students to one teacher. It was impossible for them to social distance and as such the students were split into two sets and  took turns to go to school for two/three days a week; or half a day each set. This had a direct impact on the recruitment process of Girl Child mentees as some of the potential mentees were in different sets to the recruiting staff. We waited this process out and it paid off! We had twenty excited girls start the mentorship programme on the 10th of April and another ten start on the 17th of April.

 

And so it began….finally! 

Our introductory session is about getting to know the girls, telling them what Makomborero is all about and making sure they understand the policies and procedures we have in place to protect them. On paper, it looks very much like a tick-box exercise but in reality, this session is worth gold! For a lot of the girls, having been forced to grow up before their time through such experiences as taking on lead roles in their families, it is the first time they get a good understanding of their rights not only as a female but as a child. Mentors do a great job of melting the ice as well as answering some tricky questions in this first session. We are 4-5 sessions in at the time of writing this report and attendance has been great, with a hundred percent at one school last week, which is rare. There was lots of excitement around the library books, which was lovely to see. Those who never thought they would get the hang of crotcheting are becoming pros. Girls who started off shy and not keen on contributing are coming out of themselves especially with the reassurance from their mentors. Snack time while someone reads an inspiring story is a huge hit as always. Stories about girls or women who achieved great things give the girls an instant dose of inspiration and eating together at gatherings is a much loved part of the culture. There is a proverb in one of the local languages, Shona, which says ‘Relationships are somewhat empty, it is food which completes them’ and it rings true at our sessions.

This year’s group is loving their group photos and silly poses, we are too! What a lovely celebration of finally coming together.

 

What’s next?

Remember that end of term lunch that we had planned for but couldn’t have in March 2020? Well, we have another planned for two weeks’ time. Our thirty girls will be served a delicious lunch prepared by staff and mentors. We won an amazing grant that will allow us to give each girl sustainable sanitary wear. There will also be a fun and educational session on menstruation as well as a relaxing art therapy session making use of the white t-shirts we so eagerly purchased last year. This group of girls will be with us for the year and we look forward to discussing more topics, having healthy debates, learning new skills and eating and chatting together with them.

Putting all this in writing has made us see how much has been achieved in such a short space of time (though we did have over a year to prepare). Thank you to all our kind donors who helped us stock up the materials that are now coming into use. Well done to the mentors who have done a great job at adapting to the new protocols necessitated by Covid-19. Verbally communicating through masks is a bit of a challenge especially during that first session, the mentors handled it beautifully! Well done to our trainee mentors for their enthusiasm and for being such quick learners. It would have been so easy to come under the dark cloud of Covid-19 and stop planning or hoping but there was a certain Mrs A whose positivity and forward planning kept everyone upbeat and focused. Thank you Mrs A!

Mood meter – at the start of this report, I had a smile on my face and now it’s turned into a big cheesy grin. Hope it’s infectious!

Too excited to take a normal group photo!
Too excited to take a normal group photo!
Session in progress
Session in progress

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Apr 28, 2021

Much to be grateful for as we start 2021

The 2021 Makomborero Intake
The 2021 Makomborero Intake

Wow! Makomborero Zimbabwe has entered its second decade and we have extended a warm welcome to 27 new students (10 Lower Sixth internals, 16 Lower Sixth externals). For the first time ever, we were able to welcome into the Resource Centre one external student who was already in Upper Sixth (thanks to a very kind sponsor). We have taken on our highest number of students to date as we continue to bridge the gap in access to education for many, many students, even if in this small way.

We have also welcomed two 2020 gap year students, Milton and Yeukai, as our first ever Makomborero Zimbabwe interns. They are a natural addition to the staff compliment and we often wonder how we ever got by without them.

Our resource centre is now at full capacity and has a buzzing atmosphere that all students seem to enjoy. The year 2021 started under Covid-19 restrictions. There was much uncertainty surrounding how the school calendar would be structured and this was not the easiest start to the year for our students. It brought much worry and meant that some external students had no access to studying materials. Communication with our students proved key in those times, students were in much need of both encouragement and practical solutions and the Makomborero team did their best to meet both. Our external students began their lessons in March after the Covid19 restrictions had been relaxed. We are proud of how they are adapting to new protocols and juggled lesson times as Heads of schools and their staff make massive efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

Makomborero continues to support external students with data bundles and food packs. We are acutely aware that families are still facing poverty worsened by the ongoing pandemic and we know the negative impact this has on both the mental health of students and inevitably their education. On the 20th of March, we were able to hold a workshop for both internal and external students. It was a full day of fitting in training that would have otherwise been spread out during the course of the term. As much as it was an educational experience, it was also an opportunity for students to relax, catch up, laugh and eat together.

External students were presented with backpacks, lunch boxes, water bottles, toiletries, stationery, hand sanitiser, masks, solar lamps and food packs. We had a generous donation of clothes on this occasion and these were distributed to both internals and externals. We won a grant that enabled us to purchase sustainable sanitary wear for 80 girls. We were pleased to have been able to distribute some of these on that day.

Our team is working on launching an online learning platform for our external students. It’s an amazing project that will be of huge benefit to the students once it is completed. We are hoping the project will be completed by the end of April and each external student will be issued with a tablet. Private schools opened in January online. We are incredibly grateful for the excellent education provided by our partner schools. For most of our Lower Sixth internals, online lessons were a completely new and daunting experience. We are proud of them for making the transition from their schools and the face to face learning they were so used to.

Thank you to Makomborero staff who made sure that the six students who required glasses were able to get them and to Spec Savers who were able to test the students at discounted fees. Some students’ eye sight were so bad they had been having to hold books to their faces or sit at the very front of the class just to see. It was humbling to see their first reactions to the world in their new glasses.

We would also like to say a huge thank you to students at our partner schools for how welcoming they have been to our Makomborero students. One of our internal students, Melisah, said she felt that her classmates had been waiting eagerly to meet her! Thank you to kind donors all internal students were also presented with backpacks, hand sanitiser, masks, toiletries, lunch boxes and water bottles. Both internal and external students have beaten the odds this first term and all students have worked very hard. We are proud of all of them!

Examination Results

A huge congratulations to our 2020 leavers for the incredible A-Level results and to our current A-Level students for their equally amazing AS results. We are excited to announce that our 9 A-Level Cambridge students’ results were as follows: 26A*, 3A and 2B. Our 9 AS-Level Cambridge students’ results were as follows: 27A, 5B, 1C. I know we are beginning to sound like a broken record but, there are no A* at AS-Level. Well done everyone!!

We were thrilled that, compared to many parts of the world, our students were able to actually sit and write their examinations and be properly assessed. We would like to give heartfelt thanks to teachers and staff at our partner schools. Such incredible results are out of reach without their hard work. We value greatly their partnership with us and their dedication to our students and their education. The delay to the start of the first term has also meant delays in marking and releasing Zimsec results. It meant a longer than usual wait for our external student. We look forward to getting these results soon.

 University Life

Our local university students are waiting eagerly to begin lectures. There has been a more than 100% increase in fees for most programmes. We are extremely grateful to a local company that paid all our university fees as well as stipends for our 25 students. Lots of incredible graduations were celebrated during last year’s tough Covid times and we are so proud of our students. We are grateful to have been able to keep in touch with our university students who are outside of Zimbabwe. More than ever, they have needed the support system that is their family, friends and each other as most have not been able to travel at all in the last year. In the last few months, past Makomborero Zimbabwe students have strived to make better connections with an exciting Alumni programme and they are giving back to current Makomborero Zimbabwe students through a newly formed mentorship programme. It has been a joy to watch the creativity and hard work that past students are putting into these programmes.

 Other projects

The Mobile Science Lab has recently re-launched. As always, it is a great benefit to students from schools where equipment for practical science lessons is scarce. To satisfy all Covid-19 protocols, the number of students per session has been halved. As much as we would like to impact more students with the excellent practical lessons on offer at the Science Lab, we have accepted that for now, this is not a possibility and are grateful for the few that will get this amazing experience.

Plans are underway to begin the Ndeipi training sessions (our small business training). The attendees are often guardians/parents of students and this helps them to feel part of the Makomborero family too.

We were excited to begin Girl Mentorship sessions after a year of not being able to meet. Sessions started in April. Mentor training was done via audio clips. Our amazing mentors could not wait to get started and have done so with much enthusiasm. It’s shaping up to be a great year for Girl Mentorship programme. As we only had a few meetings with the 2020 mentees, we presented each of them with a food pack (beans, rice, soya chunks, porridge, pasta, sweets and biscuits) at the beginning of the year. They were pleasantly surprised and appreciated the goodies.

Our University of Zimbabwe residence in Harare is still an ongoing project but we have made some fantastic progress. Walls are painted, solar panels installed, beds and study tables made and the gazebo is up and ready. We are hoping to have the first residents in the house this August. Our staff have finally moved in to their new office! They are loving the space and putting their mark on the new space.

 A final sign off

Despite all that is going on or not going on, we have tried to keep things at Makomborero Zimbabwe as normal as possible. The Albertyns have continued to go to the boarding house to share meals and spend time with students. Life Skills sessions continue to be a much looked forward to part of the week by the internal students. We appreciate that we can use Life Skills to discuss topics that help us raise well-rounded young men and women. Some of our sessions have had to occur via Zoom and have been just as effective and a bit of a welcome change. Training of Girl child mentors and interns has happened successfully via audio recordings. As you can probably tell, this first term had the potential to be extremely hard but thanks to your ongoing support, we have managed to have lots of highs and we have continued to stand as a family and champion the education of young people despite all that is going on around us. We are extremely grateful to our sponsors. We are privileged to start our journey into this new decade with you!

The backpacks given out to all the scholars.
The backpacks given out to all the scholars.
Covid-19 quarantine  precautions for 2021 intake.
Covid-19 quarantine precautions for 2021 intake.
Relaunch of Mobile Science Lab sessions.
Relaunch of Mobile Science Lab sessions.
Some of the 2021 getting new glasses!
Some of the 2021 getting new glasses!

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