February was a frantic month with the setting up of the Scholarship Programme. We were doing up the boarding house, fundraising with local companies, sorting out school uniforms, teachers, text books and going through the gruelling task of selecting just 15 scholarship students from 150 applicants.
The boarding house is set up and has been running since the 1st of March. We have 15 incredible students and a wonderful House Mother, who has a passion for these students and they all call her mum now.
Mark is teaching all the Physics and Maths lessons, as well as coaching sport and we have a Chemistry teacher and two Biology teachers. We are using the facilities of a private school in Harare, Zimbabwe in the afternoon. To give you an idea of how a day runs:
8am – Breakfast
Mornings – spent either at the boarding house for personal study time or sport or a lecture on something different (i.e. a language, craft etc)
12noon – Lunch and then catch a bus to the school for lessons.
1.30-5.30pm – Lessons
7pm – Dinner
All students are weekly boarders, arriving at 5pm on Sunday night and leaving Friday afternoon after lessons.
This 1st term we have run games nights, language workshops, History of Art workshops, played volleyball, tennis, basketball, football and golf with all 15 kids and hosted a BBQ at the house with some of our friends. We are setting up a more structured co-curricular programme for the 2nd term. Sport on two mornings a week, one morning of fun lectures on varied topics, career guidance and life skills (to expose the kids to different things) and the other two mornings are free for study time.
The students have an incredibly smart uniform – which you can see in some of the photos and they all wear it with such pride! They made us laugh, as they chose their uniform and were so particular about what they wanted!!! We are so proud to have each one of them on this programme.
As many of them are orphans or have very tough family backgrounds we have been impressed with how they have adjusted to a structured ‘normal’ family life!!! They all have responsibilities around the home, which they participate happily in. Edwin walked me to the car the other night and told me that this is the happiest he has ever been and he now has people he can call family!!! This obviously brought a tear to both Mark and my eyes.
All the students are working incredibly hard and their motivation is unbelievable. The Chemistry and Biology teachers all teach at private schools and they have said how refreshing it is to teach these guys, their passion and zeal to learn is amazing!!! A visitor from the UK who volunteered her time for a few weeks did a Spanish workshop while she was here and the kids drank it up and were speaking Spanish all week and asking her for more and more stuff they could learn – she said that she had taught them more than she would be able to do in 8 lessons in the UK!
It is holiday time and time for us to catch up with life and get systems in place for next term. We have funding for 8 students for this first year and continue to fundraise for the other 7. We look forward to updating you with further news from this programme. Thank you for your continued support of us and belief in this programme. Without your support this programme would not be able to run and these lives would never be changed!
Written by: Laura Albertyn