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Emma Seery

Chinhoyi Secondary School Classrooms

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The Chinhoyi Secondary school now has their first ever classroom block! The building, completed in 2015, consists of 3 large rooms housing 3 different year groups.

The secondary school is small when compared to the primary school (950 children vs 300 children). This is due to the rise in fees children face upon entering the high school. Unfortunately, many families are no longer able to afford school, and many young teenagers are sent out to work, or worst, become young brides and mothers.

We are working with the school and parents to educate families of the risks involved in taking these desperate routes. Encouraging them to keep their children in education is part of a long-term plan to stop the poverty cycle.

Thanks to our friends Fredrik & Derek, in 2015 we managed to fund school fees for 55 of these children. This has paid for their entire high school education!

The money received was then used to build their first ever classroom block, which was opened for use on 11th January 2016.2013-10-22 08.17.07revelation kazembe - 2013-10-22 08.15.50

Feeding Programme: Latest News

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We would like to say a very sincere thank you to all our loyal supporters! We have had such a wonderful response to our plea to continue and expand the Feeding Programme.

The children we work with in Chinhoyi are from very deprived families who struggle to survive. This means many children often arrive at school extremely hungry.

Our Feeding Programme has already brought relief to so many of these children. However, in 2015 we were only able to feed the very youngest children at Chinhoyi Primary. This meant that we had to turn away the older children, who were also hungry.

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However, the severity of the problem with all children attending the school was soon realised. The Headmaster found out that some children were going without food for periods of up to two days.

Because of your recent support, we are happy to say that we can now continue the programme into 2016. Not only this, we can now also make the programme available to the WHOLE primary school! Thanks to your donations, we can ensure the older children are also well-fed and ready to thrive in their learning!

2016 still looks to be another difficult time with more drought predictions. However with your loyalty and support we can bring light and hope to their lives!

Our aim is to expand the programme to the neighbouring schools in this deprived, rural area, where more children are faced with hunger every day. Providing food will help improve these children’s concentration and performance at school. It will also give them further incentive to attend their classes rather than going out to work or beg.

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Foundations for Farming Workshops

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This November, we collaborated with Foundations for Farming to deliver a three day agricultural training programme in the rural area of Chinhoyi.

Foundations for Farming is an incredible organisation working to help communities become self-sufficient by teaching them effective agricultural practices. Using Foundations for Farming methods, a family of six can feed itself for a whole year from a very small plot of land. That’s one bucket of maize per week, for every week of the year!

This means these families can use the land to turn a profit, so that they can eradicate hunger and have surplus yield to sell and pay their children’s school fees.

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Training began early in the hot morning sun with an introduction on the importance of maintaining healthy soil. Participants were taught how to prepare and maintain good soil structure without ploughing. While this method might sound unusual, it actually makes the soil less sensitive to erosion, increases its water absorption capacity and actually increases yields, all at a much lower cost because the soil doesn’t need to be turned. The group also learnt about how to keep a mulch cover on the surface of the soil, a thick ‘blanket’ of fallen leaves and grass which helps reduce soil water losses, suppress weeds and protects against extreme temperature.

Then everyone got to work pegging their own plots, following precise specifications in order to achieve optimal plant populations and give their plants the best chance to thrive. Everyone practiced planting seeds and applying fertilisers, as well as learning about different seed varieties and home remedies for pest control.

Participants were also taught about keeping a farm calendar and how to budget with the help of record books. With the training’s focus on how to make a profit, they learnt how to farm for value. For example, if a certain crop like maize is not fetching good prices on the market, this can be used to keep pigs which can then be sold at a higher price.

It’s possible to reduce the need for or even eradicate the requirement for fertiliser through the use of compost. This results in even lower input costs and a higher standard of living for the family. Participants learnt how to make compost making and “chicken manure soup” for the supply of nitrogen in plants.
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Certificates of attendance were issued to the participants and this was the happiest moment of all since they also received 2 seed packs to set up their own “pfumvudza” plots at their homes. Each pack contains enough agricultural lime, specially formulated basal fertiliser, seed maize, and ammonium nitrate needed for an 8m x 39m area of land. Measuring cups and instructions on how to plant and manage the crop are also included.

Participants were so happy that they have all written letters of appreciation to the organisers of the programme.

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Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children – Obert

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In a round, one-room hut, 13-year-old orphan Obert lived with his grandma, Gogo. Since he had been separated and lost touch with his parents in 2005, Obert spent five years of his young life panning for gold each day beneath the scorching sun. When we first met him, exams were approaching and Obert wanted nothing more than to sit them. But his chances of this were slim as he could no longer afford to attend school.

School fees had already been reduced from $6 to $2 a term in order to help struggling parents. But, with the the average wage at $1 a day and more than 80 per cent of Zimbabweans unemployed, many could still not afford the fees. Those who cannot pay are sent home, unable to return until they find enough money.

Every day, Obert worked and worked, collecting small shimmers of gold dust into his pan. There was not much food waiting for him when he returns home. “We only eat once a day – we have a beans and maize meal.” The money he earnt from panning gold was barely enough to put food on the table for him and his grandmother, let alone pay for school. He often worked a whole week without making even $2. “My future is dark if I don’t go to school,” he told us.

Since “Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children” aired in 2010, we have been able to send Obert back to school with the help of so many generous donations and support from around the world. Obert left the gold dust behind and, after missing two years of school, passed the entrance exams for a top boarding school where he began uncovering the treasures of learning instead. He passed his O’levels with outstanding results, four A’s, three B’s and four C’s, and has now registered to complete his A’level exams. Obert’s dream is to get a funding scholarship to become a doctor, so he can give back to the same neglected communities he came from. Obert tells us that he want to helps other children and encourage them to work hard because “education is for life.”

He returns home to his hut to spend every holiday with his loyal and proud grandmother and friends. Obert’s only request is to “please carry on assisting the school which I came from so the children can have a better chance at life”

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Chinhoyi School

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Whilst shooting “Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children” in 2010, the film crew came across a very remote rural area school, where they found Obert.

The school allowed them to film a very regular occurrence happening that day – desperate young children being humiliatingly sent away, unable to afford the small fee of $2. Only 10% of the hundreds of children in the area were able to attend school. This was a shocking discovery.

With the donations that flooded in to help these children, we were able to cover many of the most disadvantaged children’s school fees, and get many more access to a UNICEF scheme for school fee assistance. This resulted in over 1000 children going back to school. With the school fees, we have been able to provide essential education materials, build 5 new classrooms, new toilet blocks, install a borehole and water pump flowing with clean water, and provide training and community programs which have benefitted 2,500 people. Today, our school and its pupils are rated at number 13 out of 100 in the district for passing exams.

However, simply paying these fees each year is not a sustainable way to ensure the children in this area continue an enriching and successful education. What’s more, with such a high rate of unemployment in Zimbabwe, we need to leave this community with the ability to provide for themselves.

We work in close partnership with the children, their parents and the teachers. We stretch each child’s levy as far as possible to create a centre of hope and education in healthy survival. Using the research and knowledge we have acquired over the last 5 years – we hope to continue creating sustainable agriculture, water, education and teacher training programs within the school community to get the guardians, school and children to a point where they are receiving a quality education and are able to live independently without the need for aid.

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Obert Passes his O’Level Exams

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We are THRILLED to announce that Obert has received his O’level exam results and has passed with great results.  What a star!! Thank you to all those who have supported Obert over the years – we could not have done this without you.

Obert has now been registered to do his A’levels which is dream come true for him. If you are able to help out with sponsoring Obert please do, so we can help this very bright young man reach his full potential and give back to the communities he has come from.

Find out how you can help Obert here.

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Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children – Yvette

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We are sometimes asked about Esther and Tino’s older sister, Yvette, who featured briefly in our film Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children.

Yvette ran away from their abusive Uncle to live on the streets of Harare. She fell pregnant at 16 and gave birth to a little boy called Blessing. Together, they lived on the streets for as long as they could- as you can imagine, this was an extremely difficult time for her.

We finally managed to track her down and tried to help her, however she was very confused. One day she came to us asking for help as she could no longer look after Blessing and desperately wanted to go back to school.

With the help of SOS Children’s Village we managed to find Blessing a home together with Esther and Tino. Yvette was given the opportunity to attend a good school, however she could not cope and we have since been unable to find her again. Unfortunately the trauma of her childhood and the suffering she endured meant that Yvette was a very troubled girl – we are all very sad about how things turned out for her and hope that one day she will return safely.

In the meantime Tino has built a very special bond with Blessing, and both she and Esther look after him.  

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                                           Tino and Blessing