2022 has ended on a high note despite some challenges and the sadness of saying goodbye to our Upper Sixth students. We were able to hold our usual end of year events such as Girl Child Lunch, Testing Process, Graduation and Christmas Party without the re-jigging and the dodging of curve balls that we had become accustomed to for the past two years. It was great to be able to plan our usual events and have them go ahead smoothly. This year has seen our students get involved in annual events that had previously been on hold such as serving in a rural community through black board painting of a senior school and spending time at a local Children’s Home. Financially, it seemed an almost impossible year, especially in this final term where we dealt with massive tuition hikes and rising food and transport costs. We also found that with the disruption of Covid-19 for the past two years, this year we were having to re-teach students the culture and values of Makomborero and re-focus on building relationships. Through all this, we are beyond grateful for a year that felt the most normal of the last three, and we are joyful to be ending the year well!
Third term is the most demanding for our A-Level students as they all face crucial exams. They did amazingly well under the pressure and we are proud of all of them. Our internal students finished their exams in November and stayed at the boarding house so they could go to their Prom Dances as well as join the various Makomborero end of year events which fell in the first week of December. The students used their time impressively – applying for jobs, organising community projects and even doing some sewing with Mrs Albertyn. Lower Sixes went on leadership camps at their various schools where they learnt some valuable life skills and lessons. Some Upper Sixth students went home for a few days and came back, giving them a welcome change of environment. There were lots of achievements to be celebrated at their various schools during Prize Giving and Speech nights and we are proud of all our students’ achievements.
Our External students also finished their exams in November. We are proud of all their achievements which included winning prizes and being appointed various leadership positions at their schools and school clubs. We had a few occasions where external students went to the boarding house and joined the Internal students. The joint occasions are always a welcome mix of learning, socialising and often eating together. One of the sessions was a CV writing session where they learnt how to apply for jobs with 2023 internships in mind. For community projects, litter picking was the most popular and our students split into groups to cover the areas of Norton, Chitungwiza, Mufakose and Glenview during their clean ups.
We had an intimate and joyful annual Graduation Ceremony to honour both internal and external Upper Sixes and bid them farewell as they leave to spread out to different universities in 2023. It was great to hear directly from them the impact that their A-Level scholarship had had and the evidence was there to see. They made us laugh and cry with their parting words and as per tradition, Mrs Albertyn, Mrs Chikowore and Mrs Tambowoneyi had an opportunity to say goodbye and give them nuggets of wisdom during their speeches. We also had a wonderful annual Christmas Party where internal and external students and staff and their families attended. There was lots of fun, laughter, games and great food!
The testing process for the 2023 A-Level Scholarships is currently under way. We had just over 500 applications this year, calling 206 back to the first round of testing and then 53 to the final round of testing and interviews. In reading the application forms, we not only see the financial and social disadvantages our applicants have, we also see great need for a good education. Every child is deserving of the scholarship and the process of taking only 20 students out of the 500 applicants is truly heartbreaking. This is why each year, it is important to us to make the testing process itself an exercise that instills hope and joy into the applicants and we hope that through testimonials, art therapy and other activities we have achieved that this year.
Our 31 local university students have also had a good semester despite the change in their exam structure and the rise in their university fees. Those living at the Makomborero University Residence are still enjoying the benefits of being a walk away from lectures as well as being able to live in a student friendly environment. We have never been more grateful for the solar system we have at the house as our students currently face power cuts of up to 20 hours a day. Once again, top-ups for university fees were called for this semester and it is sad to see the effect that this has on students. There was a very real possibility that Makomborero would not be able to pay the top-ups that were being required. There was a deadline given, after which if top-ups were not paid, students would not be able to attend lessons. It was a very unsettling time and we tried a few ways to help with the situation including going on a social media campaign to ask for funding. We are so grateful to a local Zimbabwean company who donated funds enough to cover fees for all 31 students.
Ndeipi! entrepreneurial business training held the last few sessions for 2022 this term. Congratulations to the Ndeipi! participants who graduated and got presented their certificates at our annual Graduation Ceremony. We are so pleased to hear stories of those who managed to start amazing financially beneficial projects with just one dollar.
Mobile Science Lab did well this term. We had a slight change to our usual format and ran three workshops instead of weekly sessions. An introductory day, a Biology workshop day and a Physics workshop day. This was done to cut down on transport costs and to allow the students attending more free Saturdays so they were able to study for end of year exams. It was a change that worked really well all round and one that we may be keeping for future.
Girl Child Mentorship was a great success this year. The attendance in general was very high although towards the end of the year we had less attendance and we put this down to end of year exams. This term we had our usual end of year lunch which included art therapy and we were able to give gifts of reusable sanitary pants to each student. We are so grateful for the impact that this programme has on both mentees and mentors.
We have struggled financially this term. Sadly, donations and sponsorship figures have gone down while external students’ school fees and local university fees have hiked up by up to 700%. It was way beyond what we had budgeted for, even with top-ups in mind. At one point, we found ourselves in arrears for university fees and we have not been able to provide our university students with their termly stipends. It has been a busy term of trying to implement financial cuts without losing what we value and hold important. It has also been a term of trying to find new sources of income. As a result, we will be recruiting less students in 2023 to try and cover the 2022 deficit. All this brings us to say how grateful we are to our regular sponsors and supporters who have stood by us through this term! We are grateful that they always step in at times of crisis and partner with us so loyally as we educate the children of Zimbabwe. Thank you to staff, students and parents at our partner schools, Gateway High, Hellenic Academy and St Georges College. There is just no way we could run our A-Level Scholarship without all they pour into our students, often going beyond expectations. Thank you to staff at the government schools where our external students attend. They inspire us year in and year out as they do all it takes to educate students despite many obstacles. We can never honour them enough!
Despite all the challenges and unforeseen circumstances, we leave 2022 on a high. As you can see, we have so much to be grateful for, so much that went well! We look forward to journeying with you in 2023. Do follow us on Facebook or Instagram for regular updates!
We wish you all a happy and healthy 2023.