You often hear of schools in Africa being built by donors and volunteers. But do you ever stop to think about the impact that building has on a child, a teacher, a parent, a community?
In the remote and forgotten area of Chinhoyi, over one thousand children are registered at the local school. But this school had nothing when we started working together back in 2010, save for a few dilapidated, bare and unsafe buildings. There were no facilities, no learning materials. Only 90 children could even afford to attend.
Many of them had to walk long distances to get there, sometimes on an empty stomach and with a dry mouth. Once they arrived, they had to squash up with others on a hard stone under the shade of a tree. If they weren’t early enough, they had to sit in the scorching 30 degree heat for as long as they could endure it. An old blackboard lent against a tree and hardly any of the children could even make out what the teacher was writing. If it rained – lessons were over! They may have been going to “school”, but this kind of environment was just another struggle as they tried desperately to focus and learn a little something before the long walk home again.
Today, over 1000 children are attending the school each day. Many still have to walk to the long distance, and many are still hungry. But they all arrive to a new school. Classes are held in new, concrete buildings, providing safety and relief. These rooms are filled with the necessary learning materials to stimulate and inspire. There is clean water flowing from the borehole pump, readily available to drink all day. Green vegetables are growing in the field, which the community have planted themselves. Lunch is served each day and there are clean toilet blocks to use.
Now the children feel a part of a real SCHOOL – giving them a sense of self-worth and hope. Today, the school is the centre of a community, where children can uncover knowledge and discover their creativity, teachers feel valuable, and parents come to meet for prayer and entertainment.