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An Update from Mark and Laura Albertyn – 1st Term 2020

Please find below the latest Makomborero news from the 1st term of 2020.

Term News

As always we start the year with welcoming new internal and external students.  It is a hectic start to the year with Uniform buying and getting all our students ready for their various schools. 

We celebrated 9 students coming into the boarding house this term.  5 girls and 4 boys – the first year the girls have outnumbered the boys!!  St George’s College is now accepting girls into their Sixth Form and we are so grateful that they have agreed to take 4 students this year – 2 boys and 2 girls.  Our partnership with Hellenic, Gateway and St George’s is crucial to the success of our internal scholarship programme.  We would not be able to run this programme without them!  Thank you!  The adjustment to a very different culture is incredibly hard for our new students and there are often tears, cultural misunderstandings, etc. We are so proud of our students for pushing through these tough early weeks!  They bravely step into sports and clubs they have never been exposed to before, mixing with super wealthy students who often take their education for granted. We see them slowly finding their place at these school, with lots of encouragement from our Upper Sixth students, teachers and our staff.  Welcome to the family Marshal, Trust, Tanatswa, Donell, Dadiso, Priscilla, Nicole, Ropa and Melanie.

We are thrilled to release our results for 2019!  As always, we are so proud of our students – we never say we take the cleverest students, but we take students who are academically sound and who will give of their best – often seeing incredible value added.

Our A-level results for our internal students writing Cambridge examinations was as follows 5A*, 12A, 3B and 1C.  Many of these results were just 1% or 2% below a higher grade!  Well done guys – you have done us proud.

Our AS-level results for our internal students writing Cambridge examinations was as follows 25A, 6B, and 2C.  We are thrilled with these results and are so proud of these students and the adjustment they have made in just one year!  N.B.  there are no A* at AS-level.

Our A-level results for our external students writing Zimsec examinations was as follows 18A, 8B and 3C.  You should all be so proud of yourselves as you study in schools that have struggled to function well due to the harsh economic climate.

Thank you to all the teachers and schools for the incredible time investment into each one of our students!  We could not do this without you.

We continue to run a comprehensive life skills programme at the boarding house during the week and a few Sunday sessions a term.  These sessions really help us build deeper relationships with our students and help lay a foundation for their future lives. 

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The Albertyn family have monthly dinners at the house as a family and these evenings have turned into wonderful craft evenings where our students have been learning knotting and friendship bracelet making.  This is something new to all of them and was such an incredible donation from a supporter overseas!

Our 14 External students have all started their sixth form studies at their high density schools and have all settled well.  Welcome to the family Hendis, Tadiwanashe, Tapiwa, Spaasta, Tinotenda, Christopher, Claudette, Gerald, Lissa, Basil, Tadiwanashe, Moses, Prestige and Rejoice.

We took extra external students this year.  This was because we were faced with the reality of how desperate the economic situation our country is in, during our testing process in December.  We could see that hundreds of students were not going to go onto Sixth Form, due to finances and we wanted to play a slightly bigger role in enabling a few more to be able to go.  They have all slotted into Makomborero life well and we have so enjoyed our Sunday afternoon life skills sessions with them this term.  What an honour to be able to stand in the gap, so to speak.

With the help of local sponsors we were able to give each of our new students (internal and external) a back pack, stationery and a few other bits to help them start school.

Community Projects

All our programmes for the year were launched with lots of training and mentorship of our leaders before hand.  Thank you to our team, who gave so tirelessly of themselves to get everything running so well.  We launched 3 girl mentorship programmes in 3 schools – 30 Form 2 girls in total, attending mentorship meetings every Saturday.  What an incredible programme this is.  The mentors are phenomenal as they give so tirelessly to these young ladies and we quite literally see these girls transform before our eyes!  What a journey this year will be!

Our Mobile Science Lab launched again with 1 session being run every Saturday and a wonderful group of Form 3 students doing various Biology and Physics practicals – we can’t wait to welcome the next lot of students in Term 2.  This is such an incredible time for these students to receive hands on experience in their subjects and also for them to be immersed in a positive, life giving learning environment.  Thank you to our wonderful team of teachers for making this lab run so well!

Hard at work in mobile science lab.

The Ndeipi programme was also launched again for this year – with 18 participants to attend a 6 session programme, spread throughout the year, of entrepreneurial  training for small businesses.  This programme gives such hope to many of our families, who are unemployed and it is a joy to see them learn and their lives change through this. 

We had the privilege of having our UK Chairman come out to Zimbabwe for a week.  He immersed himself fully in the life of Makomborero and we were able to share all our programmes with him.  He even got to have dinner at a student’s house.  He cheered us on, was a great sounding board and friend and we are incredibly grateful to him for coming to visit!

Effects of Covid-19

Unfortunately all of our programmes have now been put on hold due to Covid-19. With Covid -19 in the background the whole of this year and seeing the devastating impact of the virus on many parts of the world we knew that it was inevitable that it would end up here at some stage. 

All schools were closed.  We were able to send our students home with emergency food packs to hopefully help their families during the 21 day lock down we are now in and with literature on how to keep safe.  Obviously due to lack of testing and funding, it is very hard to tell the devastating effects of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe but we do know it is here and that we were grossly unprepared for it as a nation.  We hope that this shut down will mitigate the spread but the next few months will tell.

Our Internal scholarship students schools all ran their teaching from online platforms which has been very hard for our students to access from home due to connectivity issues and access to devices that can access the internet.  We have paid for Data but we might need to come up with a better solution if after the school holidays, online learning needs to continue.

Our University Students have also had all lectures and classes suspended.  We were incredibly grateful to a local donor who paid all our University fees this semester – they went up by 1000%.  Thank you to Sandvik for their generous support of us!

As an office staff we have been able to work remotely.  It has been a wonderful opportunity to update literature and look at how we run programmes, where we can improve and change etc.  So the lock down has had its advantages!

It is unclear as to when we will be able to start running our programmes abut we stay in constant contact with our students, supporting them and our families during this difficult time.  For many of our families vending vegetables is their main source of income and this has obviously been affected by the lockdown.

Thank you to our local sponsors who have continue to stand by us this year and who make all this work possible!

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