We have had a great 3rd term. Lots to try and squeeze into this newsletter!
2012?? What happens next?…this has been a question on our minds for the last few months. We want to see the scholarship programme become sustainable year-on-year but increasingly felt that the students would be best served if they were fully integrated into a school. Mark decided to approach private schools to see if they could offer full scholarships to a few students each year. This would mean that we would then only have to cover Uniform and Boarding house costs and then be responsible for pastoral care of the students, rather than taking on the academic teaching too, which limits to only being able to offer sciences. We were blown away with three of the private schools’ response. We have been offered a total of 8 full tuition scholarships (worth about US$50 000) at three different private schools (St Georges College, Hellenic Academy and Gateway). This has felt like such a confirmation of what we are doing, that this past year has been worth the risk.
So where does this take us?
The current 15 will continue to do lessons at Gateway in the afternoons and complete their second year of A-levels, following the same structure as we have done for this past year. Mark will teach Maths and Physics and three other teachers will continue to cover the Chemistry and Biology. Our 15 students will continue to live in the rented boarding house and have a full co-curricular programme.
We will recruit 8 students to start their AS levels as fully fledged students attending one of the three private schools starting in 2012. Ideally we would start a second boarding house to provide the pastoral support, but we are considering going the route of finding families, close to the schools, that would be willing to provide accommodation/food during the week for these students. We would pay them an amount to cover these costs. If this happens we will have combined games nights, bible studies and anything else fun that we do with the boarding house. At the end of the 2012 the 15 will move out of the house and we would then put these 8 in the house, together with the third intake of approx. 7/8 students starting in 2013. i.e. we want to run one house with two year groups and a total of 15/16 students. We hope that this will become a process that repeats itself year after year. With full tuition scholarships this reduces the costs quite substantially – these students would cost about $2200-$2500 each year to look after compared with the current 15 who cost roughly $3600 each year.
Coupled with the above plans, a new baby on its way and various other factors, Mark has accepted a job as Head of Mathematics at Hellenic Academy as of January. It was a decision we came to after much careful deliberation and soul searching. The school is fully aware of Mark’s commitments to the scholarship project and will adjust his teaching load accordingly so that he can teach the pioneer group of 15 next year as well. We see this as a positive move in trying to make the project sustainable and hopefully open more doors for getting the project more exposure. We will keep assessing how things are going – we do realise that it will be very busy, particularly in January.
We have also hired an Administrator who starts at the beginning of January and we see this as a vital role in keeping us afloat with administration with Mark in a full time job and a new baby in the family!
We had our first big handover of support from a local company – a Zimbabwean Bank – ZB Bank. It was a great occasion and real break-through for Mark on the local fundraising front – they have sponsored two pupils for two years on this current scheme. Thank you ZB bank we so appreciate your support!!
A Zimbabwean friend organised two fundraisers at a local junior school. A Dad’s and Son’s camp out and a Mum and Daughters pampering morning – they were both a huge success and we appreciate all the hard work that went into them. It was lovely to see some of our students interacting with young kids. We benefit financially and the parents benefit from quality time with their kids!
Movember Fundraiser – six crazy men grew moustaches to raise money for the project! They are all ex-collegues of Mark’s from Benenden (UK) and we so value their efforts! Thank you guys – you are fantastic!! Also Steve Mansfield’s – one of the men pictured – his boarding house did a Movember day and the girls all wore Moustaches in an effort to raise money for Makomborero.
An ex-student of Mark’s from Benenden – Steffanie Ho and some of her Uni friends have done a few fundraisers to raise money to send out a pallet of books for the project!!! The first event they held was at Sainsburys, where they packed peoples groceries for them and raised 162 pounds in 5 hours, they also sold Krispy Kreme donuts – all 30 dozen were sold in 3 hours and raised about 180 pounds. Their last event for the year will be a Christmas dinner held back in their home land of Hong Kong and proceeds will come to the project!! With the money raised the fundraisers will pack a pallet of books and ship it off to Zim, they hope before the end of year. We are so proud of them for their efforts, especially as they juggle uni life!!
We have also been able to secure a fantastic local sponsorship of Gas each month for the boarding house through Redan Gas – thank you for your support of us.
We have a friend in Australia doing a fundraiser too! Helen Allott will be shaving her head to raise support for the project on 17th December! We are so proud of her!! An amazing wife and mummy of 3 – who misses her home Zimbabwe so much!! Thank you!!
The 15 loved time with Gladman a former pupils of Mark’s from a few years back and we all nick named him ‘Mr T’. He is a Physics teacher so was a valuable asset on the revision school team as well as giving the students a lecture on studying overseas.
Mark has started the incredible task of recruiting next years intake. 35 township schools were visit and 280 applications received. He has narrowed it down to about 150 and they have been invited for further testing and interviewing before Christmas. It is a very tough process and Mark really needs wisdom as he makes the final decision on the final 8.
Internal Exams were written towards the end of term and the students did well. Mark feels they are getting into the swing of A-levels and are beginning to reach their potentials. We are so glad we gave them time before writing their AS levels.
All our students aspiring to become doctors were accepted onto a volunteer project into the big government hospital in Harare. They work on the Children’s ward – which has been an eye opener to all of us. Some of the children have been there for years and years, some are orphans who never get visits etc. So it is wonderful to see them serve these children. We have put together a little bag of goodies for them to take a long each week to do things with the kids and are looking forward to having some books to read to them too (coming in the palette from the UK). Our students have loved the opportunity to give back!
Excitingly our students have also been accepted onto a preparation for scholarship programme, which prepares you for entry into the top universities in the states. We feel that two or three of our students are potential candidates to receive a scholarship but the lady who runs the programme here will work with all our 15, building their confidence in application writing, interview process etc. We are very excited about this and the prospect of possibly two of them making the grade!!! What an opportunity for them!!
A wonderful little local church in Harare sponsored our Christmas Party for the students this year – Kingsmead Chapel you have been such an incredible support to us this year – thank you!! I was able to buy each one of them a present and we had a fabulous evening out eating Pizza and wearing silly Christmas hats. For many of them this will be their only celebration of Christmas and it felt so special to do something with them. It was also great having some of their teachers share the evening with us.
The last day of term we held our Prize Giving at the boarding house and invited special guests and teachers to share in the occasion. It was a very special morning, filled with lots of emotion. Mark and I struggled to hold it together through the event! It was wonderful to acknowledge their achievements over the year, give out some funny prizes too and be able to celebrate the 15 and how proud we are of them.
We were recently donated four bikes for the boarding house! Here are some of the students collecting them from our house!! It has meant greater freedom for them and quick runs to the shops for bread etc! We hope to add to our little fleet!
As ever thanks for all you support over the past year – we could not have done this year without you. The lives of the 15 students, Dinnis (House Mom) and Johannes (Handy man) have been transformed by all your efforts!
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Written by: Laura Albertyn