Dec 31, 2020

Coming to the end of 2020 - a year which Covid tried to derail but failed!

Christmas 2020 at Makomborero
Christmas 2020 at Makomborero

We have come to the end of our 10th year of Makomborero Zimbabwe and what a year it has been! Our Internal students were able to return to their schools in September, which saw the end of online learning for them. This was a wonderful opportunity to return to some kind of normal education – amidst strict protocols. They only had a few weeks in the classroom before their AS and A level examinations started. It was a long, nearly two months of exams but we are confident that our students have done well, despite the interruptions to their education.

Our external students' experience could not, unfortunately, be more different. They were able to return to school in November but sadly due to the ongoing pay dispute between teachers and the government, our external students might have been physically in the classroom but sadly no teaching took place. It is a tragic situation we find ourselves in. Even though there was no online provision and very little classroom time for our external students at their respective government schools, their final A level examinations went ahead during the month of December. We are very proud of our students and how they have pursued their education, self-learning for the duration of this year.

Even with Covid-19 restrictions, many of our Internal students were able to enjoy a little bit of sport and co-curricular programmes. We also saw 2 of the schools have their Annual Prize Givings with only pupils attending and we were thrilled that many of our students received prizes for their academic achievements throughout the year. This was only possible due to the incredible online learning that the schools provided throughout the closure of the schools. We are grateful to all the teachers and staff who adapted to this way of learning and provided an excellent learning environment. Thank you!

Prizegiving Winners

St George’s

Shingirai, Simon and Ngonidzashe - Academic full colours.

Gateway

Winnie - Academic full colours, U6 Biology prize, U6 Maths prize

Yeukai - U6 Maths Cup, Subject prize U6 Chemistry, U6 merit award

Tanatswa  – L6 merit award, Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Maths cup

Melanie  – L6 merit Award

Hellenic

Bradley - Academic full colours, Further Maths subject prize, Pure Maths subject prize, Resolve and determination trophy, Best Import Award

Milton - Academic full colours, Subject prize U6 Comp Science

Shalom - Full academic colours, Team awards for first aid

Our Lower Sixth Internal students were still able to participate in their various leadership camps – even if they looked different to what they normally look like. These are always wonderful times of building relationships.

Our graduation this year was an incredible celebration of our graduating 2020 class – both external and internal students! What a beautiful day celebrating achievements and personal growth. At times during the afternoon there was not a dry eye in the room! We love this opportunity to celebrate our students. We also ended the term with our Christmas party – where finally external and internal students were brought together again! What joy and laughter we had together!!

Our UZ students have also not been spared the stress of Covid-19 and having to learn remotely. Many of them returned to lectures during this 3rd Term and we had a handful graduate, as well as a few start their University careers. The fees have gone up significantly and we are incredibly grateful to Sandvik for their continued support towards Makomborero Zimbabwe. We have been proud to see how these students have continued to bravely embrace their education amidst economic hardships and Covid. A shout-out to our graduates – a medical doctor, a mathematician, 2 engineers and an accountant.

Recruiting for 2021

Our recruiting for 2021 is underway – it will be our 11th year and we are incredibly humbled that we get to do this again and again!  We continue to refine our testing process – though this year we have had to scale it down a little due to Covid. Our main focus still remains that of impacting lives for one day, even if it is their only day with Makomborero. This is our biggest goal, while also adequately assessing their academic prowess.  We sow seeds of hope during this process and see lights come on in eyes, even if only 25 of them gain a scholarship.  It is a wonderful time seeing our current and past students come together and give tirelessly of themselves to touch students’ lives over these weeks!  A beautiful culture of serving has developed among our students over these testing days and it fills our hearts. I wish you could have been a fly on the wall to observe them during round 1! Nothing is beneath all of us – we are a team! Sanitising desks and singing and dancing in the process, cleaning toilets willingly, setting up a rota for all the jobs that needed to be done. Thank you guys!

Our additional programmes 

The Ndeipi entrepreneurial training programme is a great partnership with One Hope Initiatives who run the course.  Our sessions were crammed together at the end of the year due to Covid but the impact was still wonderful. Sessions covered things like setting up small scale businesses with very little capital, budgeting, managing a business.  Many of our students and families will be graduating from this training programme today.  This course is so empowering, it not only gives practical skills, but it is filling hearts with hope again.  We are grateful for this partnership and the opportunity to run this course again next year!  

We ran our Girl Mentorship Programme last year at two schools and increased to three schools this year. We had a phenomenal start to the year but sadly due to Covid had to shut all the programmes down. This programme is having a deep impact on girls’ lives and Mercy, our Girl Mentorship programme co-ordinator put it so beautifully this year…. “As the months go by, spending time with the girls is like watching flowers blossom. I now understand that the educating process does not happen overnight & witness how much trust, vulnerability, patience & believing in each other, goes into the work the Girl Mentorship Programme does.” We can’t wait to get back into the schools next year under strict Covid protocols, adding a 4th school! We have an inspiring team of mentors!

Our Mobile Lab also only ran for the first term – again it is a privilege to see students access Science equipment in a working lab and have them experience a different way of learning – always with the aim of sowing seeds of hope in each of their hearts. Thank you to our great team of teachers!!!! We will be operating in the new year under strict Covid protocol and will only have 5 students attend a session at a time.

Our University Scholars

We bade farewell to a few international scholarship students again this year and they bravely left or embarked on their first semester in Zimbabwe online! Hasn’t education changed? I can’t help but think this might actually work in our favour and we see online facilities become available to Zimbabweans at cheaper, more affordable prices! We had students leave for Rochester University, Agnes Scott in the United States, University of Edinburgh and University of Cambridge – both in the United Kingdom, International University in Morocco, Jacobs in Germany, and the Botswana International University. We also welcomed 5 new students to local universities taking our total of local University students to 24. We are incredibly proud of all our students and their accomplishments. This year has seen many students take a gap year and we have enjoyed seeing them embrace this time even amidst the uncertainty and complications of Covid. We are thrilled to be offering two gap year posts with Makomborero next year. 

Makomborero in the UK

Our team in the UK has continued to work hard on behalf of Makomborero, despite all the Covid restrictions. Unfortunately many of this year's planned events were cancelled or severly curtailed but we are really pleased that our Annual Supporters' Evening was able to take place, despite having to be held online via Zoom. The silver lining was that we were able to open the event up to supporters all over the world and it was great to be able to participate live from Harare. A Youtube video of this event can be found in the links below.

Reflecting on the last year 

I know many of our students feel robbed, particularly our Upper Sixth year. This was meant to be the year where they were comfortable and confident in their schools, able to embrace all that these schools offer. I know as a team we feel robbed of many of the activities and mentorship that normally happens in the year with all our A-level students and University students. We have spent much more money on mobile data as we endeavoured to give our students access to internet and online learning facilities.   I can’t wait to have all the University Students at our house for an evening. However, the adversity has given us an opportunity to refine systems across the Makomborero organisation.

We were donated a wonderful property on Kerry Road, Harare which we have earmarked for a University residence. We have won a Beit Trust Grant to renovate the house and work is under way. We are excited at what this holds for us. Our main office will also move to this property – the office team have worked in a very cramped environment at our house and this will make for a much better working environment!

Despite the hardships of this year, it has been a good year to look back on and we look to 2021 with hope that Makomborero will continue to change lives, no matter the circumstances or obstacles we face. Thank you to everyone who continues to stand with us and change students’ lives forever. We are grateful and privileged to partner with you.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Links:


Attachments:
Sep 29, 2020

Preparing for life post Covid19 - Still keeping hope alive

Library books covered and ready
Library books covered and ready

When, in March 2020, we were left with no choice but to pause our Girl Mentorship programme meetings due to Covid-19, no-one could have guessed that six months down the line, we would still be unable to meet. When lockdown came into effect, we were a couple of weeks away from having our first, joint end of term lunch for 2020. It was promising to be a fun day with food, games, painting and a wonderful speaker. We also felt we were starting to break ground with some of the shy and quiet girls. Stopping sessions for an indefinite period meant cancelling all these plans and preparing ourselves to start again with building those relationships. We not only miss the human to human contact, we miss having contact of any kind as none of our girls have the means to participate in weekly online sessions, were we to hold them.

On a brighter note, the time away from weekly sessions has given staff space to think how the sessions can be more fun and more relevant. We have been in preparation mode, refreshing session notes as well as writing up new sessions. We had just taken on a third group when the lockdown came into effect. In the last few months, we have gathered and covered library books for the new group . We have also managed to tidy and stock our first aid kits.

More recently, staff have been thinking about what getting back to sessions will look like in light of Covid-19. All the story telling and laughter will likely have to be shared from behind masks and face screens and we are gearing ourselves to making sure we are prepared for this in every way. Not only will Makomborero Zimbabwe be instrumental in the giving of sanitisers, masks, screens etc, before sessions resume, staff will also hold training with mentors on Covid-19 so they in turn will be able to educate our mentees about Covid-19 and how to keep safe, especially when the official lockdown restrictions relax. We have heard some heartbreaking stories of people from areas where some of our mentees live having to share masks due to financial difficulties. We hope to help alleviate this pressure for them.

We are grateful that we live in times where technology has made communication much easier. We are able to hear from most of our mentors who seem to be keeping in good spirits. Sadly, most of our mentees do not have personal phones, so it has been difficult to stay in contact with them directly. The silver lining is that most of the mentors live in the same areas as their mentees and we hear reports of them bumping into one or two of the girls. It’s really nice when this happens and we get to hear how they are.

Here is what a few have said they miss the most:

‘I miss the sessions so much because they inspired me.’ – Lynn – mentee

‘I miss crotchet and the stories we used to share with the girls while having snacks at the end of the day.’ – Tinaye - mentor

‘I miss being a mentor.’ – Shyline - mentor

'I miss leading sessions and recapping on previous sessions, and I miss playing games with the girls, I enjoy that!' - Teclah - mentor

‘I miss interacting with the girls. That’s the bit I love the most.’ – Joan – Staff member

We are also grateful for the donations of books, first aid kits and masks. Our donors, staff, mentors and eager mentees have really helped us to keep hope alive in these strange times! 

Refreshing our first aid kits
Refreshing our first aid kits
Donated masks for the girls
Donated masks for the girls

Attachments:
Sep 3, 2020

Finding the silver lining during Covid-19

Learning to do Covid Testing
Learning to do Covid Testing

What a weird term it has been!  Covid-19 has changed the world and changed everything at Makomborero.  We have had to pause many of our projects over the last few months.  However, it has given us lots of time to reflect, learn how to run the office remotely, access and make lots of changes.  As hard as this season has been, it has also been incredibly productive.  So much time to improve and implement – when do we get time like this!

Dealing with Covd 19

One of the biggest effects of Covid-19 and the lock down on our families has been the massive loss of income.  Most of our families are not employed and rely on the informal sector to make an income for their families, mostly through vending.  During the very strict lock down, it was an incredibly dire situation for them. Even as the lock down has continued, but to a lesser extent, many of the families are not earning anything and survival has become incredibly hard.  We have managed to feed all our external and internal students’ families with 3 food packs each.  We worked with an incredible organisation that makes products that just require water – bread mixes you can cook on the fire, healthy delicious porridge, etc. etc.!  We are so thankful to be able to offer healthy, nutritious food to our families.  These packs were literally life savers.

Our UZ students have also not been spared the stress of Covid-19 and having to learn remotely.  We have been able to provide them with mobile data to study, living allowances for food and encouragement through this hard, isolating season.  Their learning has been hindered but I have been so impressed to see them continue to push through!

Our internal students have had the wonderful opportunity to continue with online learning and incredible lessons through their school – St George’s, Hellenic and Gateway.  As much as they miss real school life, this has been a good substitute and they have been able to access all online learning!  They will write their end of year Cambridge examinations starting at the end of September.  So lots of preparation work is going into those finals.

Our team has been working staggered hours but have managed to keep the boarding house and Makom-borero going and we are so thankful for their hard work and dedication.  We have learnt how to administer our own rapid Covid-19 tests, we have learnt how to run a quarantine facility, keep our students and staff safe!  It has been a massive learning curve for all of us. 

We have loved hearing from all of our students – those at University, those at school etc about how even though this time has been hard, it has also been an incredible opportunity for them to learn new skills, spend quality time with their families – seek out the silver lining amidst the hard times!  We have been so proud of all of them!  For our students studying abroad – not being able to come home has been particularly hard too!

The team has been working on launching an online learning system for our external students so that they too can benefit from online learning and not just during Covid-19 – so watch this space.  All our students – internal, external and university students have been supplied with mobile data for access to internet to help with their learning during this season.

Great News from our University Students

This is also the time of year when we are able to celebrate our students who have successfully completed their tertiary studies. We have been receiving great, inspiring news throughout the term.

Phillip graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery from the Central South University in China. He is now working with the Xiangya Hospital doing research on the need for a Clinical Skills Training Center at Parirenyatwa and Harare Hospitals. Lazarus graduated online from Jacobs University in Germany where he gained a BSc in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Ruvimbo graduated from Agnes Scott University in the US - thanks to a Mastercard - ALA scholarship. She has now secured a job at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a research associate doing cancer research. We wish them the very best as they start a new chapter in their lives!

Building for the Future

Finally, we have embarked on an incredible project – we were given a property last year to open a residence for our University students.  It needs renovations and we applied for a grant to do this.  During lock down we decided this was the perfect opportunity to convert the garage at the University house into an incredible office for Makomborero.  Our admin office has always been at our house – in a tiny storeroom!  It was about time!  It has a wonderful storeroom, bathroom and kitchen area – with a big, open plan office space!  We are hoping to finish the conversion this month and move into our new office soon!  The other incredible news is that the Beit Trust has approved us for a grant to renovate the UZ Residence!  We hope to start the work in October!  It is incredibly exciting!!  Thank you Beit Trust for believing in our vision!

So as you can see Covid has limited the activities we can report on but know that we are incredibly grateful for your continued support of us and Makomborero during this hard year we find ourselves in. 

Stay Safe!

Building the new office
Building the new office
Phillip graduating in China
Phillip graduating in China
Lazarus who graduated from Germany
Lazarus who graduated from Germany
Ruvimbo graduating in the USA
Ruvimbo graduating in the USA

Links:


Attachments:
 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.