It is very hard to choose one student who embodies all that Makomborero hopes for their students, as all our students have overcome huge obstacles to gain outstanding achievements. Today we have decided to profile Tinashe Lennon Rwodzi.
Tinashe was born into a family of four. His father passed away when he was 9 years old and he was left with his mother, who was unemployed at the time. Due to financial hardships, struggling to feed the children and pay school fees, Tinashe’s mother had no choice but to move to Botswana to search for a job, and Tinashe and his siblings were left to fend for themselves. They survived by walking on average 8kms every day after school to search for firewood which they then sold, enabling them to put food on the table.
Tinashe was fortunate to get support from Mavambo Trust, which was working in the area. They started paying his school fees from Grade 6 onwards. Through Mavambo Trust, Tinashe trained as a Peer Counsellor and worked in his community assisting other pupils who were being bullied or abused either at school or home. This saw him through primary school and secondary school. His time with Mavambo Trust kick started his desire to give back to his community. Tinashe became the first in his family to pass O-level, despite the struggles and difficulties of growing up in a child-headed family.
Makomborero discovered Tinashe during our first recruitment process and he became one of our 15 pioneer students in 2011. He was a student whose story touched everyone – his courage and determination that despite the loss of a father and a mother who had to live away from them, had managed to accomplish so much already. He remained disciplined, resolute, and determined to get an education.
Immediately after enrolling with Makomborero, Tinashe enjoyed taking part in our community service projects and also ran a holiday revision school program at his former school to assist O-Level students to prepare for their final examinations. He appreciated the knowledge and exposure he gained through Makomborero and valued being at a better resourced school, with access to textbooks, a library and internet for research. He gained practical experience in the Science laboratories, which he had never done before. Tinashe went on to pass his A-Level’s with A’s in Maths and Physics and a B in Chemistry!
After completing his time with Makomborero, he got an internship to work at Hellenic Academy in Harare. During this time he got exposure to orchestral instruments and he learnt to play the Clarinet, Flute and Trumpet, something which he had never done before. (His only previous exposure to music had been to learn the recorder, which a wonderful music teacher who volunteered with Makomborero had taught him. She had seen the incredible musical talent he had and encouraged him to pursue it.) In 2014, Tinashe took part in a music festival in Harare and won two trophies, one for the most outstanding performance and the other for the most promising Musician in the 18-25 years’ category.
At the same time, in his community, he started an initiative called Second Chance Education, for young adults who had been unable to finish any formal education. It was incredible to see the outcome of the students who attended this program, many of them receiving good O-level results!
Tinashe was awarded a Mastercard Scholarship, through Akwanya, to study Computer Science at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe. He has thrown himself into his studies there and is doing very well.
Tinashe is always looking for other avenues to get involved in. He continues to organise music events during his vacations and has managed to fundraise for Makomborero Zimbabwe and other causes. Tinashe is never satisfied with sitting and enjoying life – his heart for the poor and giving back is so evident in all that he does. Tinashe learnt of a Congolese Refugee camp, 8 hours bus journey from Mutare. He was so moved by the plight of the people there that he travelled all the way to Harare to seek permission to visit the camp. He has now been to the camp twice – once self-funded and another time funded by Mastercard through Akwanya. Tinashe has taken fellow students with him on these trips to provide academic support to the young people in the camp, run leadership workshops and help to nurture other skills and talents. They also took bags of clothes and food that they received from their fellow university peers. They even did an orchestral concert in the camp!
Having noticed the lack of entertainment at his University, Tinashie talked few people into pooling their savings to buy a pool table, which he then paid them back for. From the proceeds of that and a joint venture with another past Makomborero Student, he bought two football tables and computer game consoles, which he also earns an income from. The incredible thing is that he now supports his family, contributes to their food bill and pays for his siblings’ education. Tinashe hasn’t waited until he has a degree. He has embraced every opportunity given to him!
Tinashe remains active on campus as a student leader and has recently been chosen to represent Zimbabwe at the Mastercard Foundation Student’s forum, where he has just been speaking in Ghana. He’s now on his way to South Africa to do an internship We are incredibly proud of Tinashe’s accomplishments. From a boy selling firewood by the road side, studying by candle light at night and living on one meal a day, he has turned his story into one of hope and inspiration. We know this young man is destined for great, great things and he will impact many lives in the process too!