Though Covid-19 changed so much of how we do things at Makomborero, it served a great purpose in showing us what we truly value and the traditions we aim to uphold regardless of what is thrown at us. One such tradition is the Annual Supporters Event held by our UK trustees.
Our Annual Supporters Event has been going for six years to date. A chance for Makomborero supporters to hear how their donations have helped over the year, the event was always an in person event. That was until 2020 when due to Covid-19, the event was successfully held online both in 2020 and in 2021. With the world still trying to get back to normal in 2022, it was decided to host the event online one more time and we were so pleased to be joined by supporters from all around the world!
Each year, the highlight of the Supporters Event is the students themselves and this year was no different. We heard from two university students, Shyline and Nyasha, both of whom were recipients of the Makomborero A-Level Scholarship. Once everyone had been given a warm welcome by our host for the night, UK trustee Tanatsa, we got to hear from Nyasha about his journey from getting an A-Level scholarship with us, to receiving a University Grant and then becoming a Mutsidzira Grant recipient. Our host forgot to warn us to get some tissues ready for this bit!
Nyasha’s story evokes a cocktail of emotions. He takes us from being a boy born into a polygamous family in a small village, to applying for the A-Level scholarship and what that involved for him living in remote, rural Zimbabwe. He talks with deep gratitude about how his childhood dream of becoming an engineer is becoming a reality. This young man has gone back to his community and started supporting disadvantaged school children through profits from his Mutsidzira peanut butter making project. Nyasha’s story breaks and mends the heart, makes you cry and makes you smile and above all, it gives hope! You can watch it here on our YouTube channel.
Next up was Shyline, interviewed by another one of our trustees Jacqueline, live from Germany where she is currently studying. Shyline is the founder of the Zimbabwean NGO Amaani Trust, an organisation which is dedicated to improving the welfare of prisoners, ex-convicts, and their dependents through implementing transformative rehabilitation programs. Her inspiration was watching family members leave the prison system without adequate plans for rehabilitation afterwards. She runs this organisation from miles away in Germany where she is studying and she talks us through the challenges of doing this. When in Zimbabwe, she manages to go into the prisons to talk to prisoners and distribute essential items such as sanitary wear and clothes. Those who understand the prison system will have one question – how on earth has she managed to do this? Her story is one of kindness and tenacity and it comes laced with good humour. She tells it with a huge smile on her face and by the end, even those of us who were watching from our lounges were moved to give her a standing ovation.
We also got to hear from founders Mark and Laura Albertyn. Their talk and answers during the Q&A were honest and enlightening with the hallmark of deep relational themes that we have come to know of Mr and Mrs A! It was clear that Covid-19 is still having an impact in ways that most hadn’t really thought about, such as impact on the culture of the organisation. Mark and Laura talked about how Covid-19 undid a lot of the relational stuff and how staff and students are having to relearn how to navigate this new challenge. One of our trustees, Simba as well as Mark and Laura, spoke honestly about the extremely difficult financial year that Makomborero has experienced and the impact it is having – less students will be recruited and the tablets which were a study tool for external students will not be supplied in 2023.
The silver lining was hearing about how students have now started paying off their University Grants, the money used to pay for those currently studying at local universities. Past students have also got into a culture of giving food stuffs or monthly donations through our various giving platforms. We also heard about the continuing focus on the mental health of students which was very encouraging! Though the last three years have seen the couple continuously pivot and ‘make a plan’ to keep Makomborero going, it was obvious that their hope was still alive, they want each year to be better than the previous one. Fighting tears, they left us with these words: ‘Don’t give up sowing seeds of hope. We really believe we want to be a family – impacting a few kids with the hope that one day they will impact the nation.’
There was an opportunity for those who were keen to give into the work of Makomborero to do so in the days that followed via ‘The Big Give’. One of our UK trustees, Nicola, took our supporters through how they could do this. ‘We have a really stretched target this year, we are trying to raise £4000 or more.’ On that evening this felt like a huge ask knowing how all around the world our sponsors were feeling the economic challenges. The campaign ran until 6th December 2022 and we are happy to report that we smashed our target, raising a total of £12,940 including The Big Give’s matched funds. We are blown away by you, our supporters. Thank you!!
Finally, we heard from students at the Boarding House, a sweet and heart-warming video clip of the things they appreciated in the house. Then a song from our University of Zimbabwe students, Ebenezer, a song of celebration after going through hard times.
What an emotional and amazing night this was! Thank you to UK trustees for the work and time invested in making this event happen. The team modelled ‘making a plan’ so well when there was a glitch with showing the videos but Nick somehow made things work. Thank you to Mark and Laura for your heart for people and speaking so honestly about where Makomborero is at. Most of all, thank you to our donors and supporters for joining us on this night and for holding hands with us through the journey of educating the children of Zimbabwe. See you in 2023!