The Matopo Primary School Teacher-to-Teacher project is documented here. It is kindly being supported by ETAS (English Teachers Association Switzerland) and the Roger Federer Foundation.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas is coming, and your mail box is full of "begging letters." Many are surely worthy causes, but one does get a little fed can we know if our donations are really getting to the root of the matter?

One reason I like the Matopo project so much is that it's small, hands on, and transparant. No ministers skimming, no Mercedes for the civil servants, no profits for "aid workers"!

Please do get in touch with Cindy Hauert if you have any ideas about how to help--not only money, but IDEAS!

best wishes

Monday, November 26, 2007

Great news! The English Teachers' Association of Switzerland will be supporting Matopo Primary School in 2008!

I will also of course be running the second Teachers Workshop Day--to everyone's delight (including mine)!

If any readers of this blog would like to help us out in this endeavour, please let me know.

cheers for now,

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hello everybody! Thank you so much for your interest in this blog and in the Matopo Primary School project.
Things are set to get even worse in Zimbabwe. But the good news is that our Teachers' Workshop Day on October 5 at Matopo Primary School was an enormous success. I can't begin to describe how moving it was for me, the workshop faciliatator, to see so many bright, eager faces on that day. So many people went to great efforts to make the day a day to remember. It was thanks to the enthusiasm and motivation of the participants that it all worked! I am working on getting the photographs ready and will post some here shortly.

Best of all for me was that my concept of the day's activities was pretty close to the mark. Naturally one always sees afterwards what could have been done a little better! But for the most part, everyone was right with me all the way. The teachers especially liked activities and games which were very interactive (and active!), standing up and moving around the room and talking with the other participants. The energy in the room was electric! Even with no power lines ;-)

Please keep writing and giving us your moral support--it really means a lot to us. I intend to repeat the Teachers' Workshop again next year, so donations in currency are also clearly more than welcome.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Welcome back!

I just wanted to blow the welcome horn for Cindy, who is back from some intensive teacher training in Matopo.
Welcome back!
We can't wait to hear about your time there :-)

Sunday, October 28, 2007



At the moment Cindy is in Zimbabwe giving teacher training courses to teachers there from the school as well as surrounding areas. I admire her dedication and hope that this blog reaches many people. Each comment is a small treasure of encouragement and greatly appreciated.
I'm sure that she will be surprised by the number of readers this blog has reached already.

Soon she will return and will be able to share her experiences with you here.
In the meanwhile, I have been thinking of ways to further help. It isn't possible to help everywhere in the world, but setting a stone rolling can move mountains.

Last year I read an article about a boy that was moved by the poverty he saw on television in a report about children in foreign town in a country far away from his own. He decided to start collecting coloured pencils for the children of this town.

I would like to take this boy as an example and begin a motivating people to collect plain and coloured pencils. This would be a great world wide project and perhaps if you would be willing to donate to this town in Zimbabwe, a village in Brasil, or some place in Sudan, just to name a very few examples (showing that poverty can be found everywhere).

Since I know that many teachers read this blog, perhaps it would be an opportunity to collect with your class or school and find out more about another place and reasons for poverty.

Just some simply suggestions.

Thank you for caring!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Summer update of situation



Summer Update

It is with a growing sense of concern that I follow the news about developments in Zimbabwe. Probably you, too, have read some of the articles that have been appearing fast and furiously in the international media, none of which have anything good to say about the current situation in that beleaguered country.

I fear for our colleagues and friends at Matopo Primary School, and worry that all of our combined efforts may be in vain, given the prognosis. At the time of writing (April 24, 2007) this was what was being reported:

From The New Yorker, April 9, 2007:

Zimbabwe’s inflation rate is already more than seventeen hundred per cent, the highest in the world, and the International Monetary Fund warns that it could exceed five thousand per cent by year’s end. Unemployment is around eighty per cent, and the average income is less than a dollar a day. With chronic food shortages and no medical system left to speak of, life expectancy has plunged from sixty years, in 1990, to less than thirty-seven years (the shortest anywhere), while the infant mortality rate has increased by more than fifty per cent. Not surprisingly, as many as three million Zimbabweans—a quarter of the population—have fled the country. Yet last week Mugabe’s information minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, declared, “There is no crisis whatsoever in Zimbabwe.”

And from The Economist, April 5, 2007:

For eight straight years the economy has been contracting; it has shrunk by half since 1999. The collapse of agriculture, after Mr Mugabe snatched commercial farms to give to political cronies, is one big problem. Lack of confidence in the rule of law deters investors. A once booming tourist industry is all but dead, with safari lovers deterred by violent repression. Most aid money stopped long ago…What has taken a decade or so to sink is likely to take a generation to get afloat again. (my emphasis)

This last sentence is one reason we can’t give up on Matopo Primary School. These children ARE the generation who will have the task of rebuilding the economy when the time comes, as it surely will.

The other reason we can’t give up is the dozens of hand-written thank-you letters, poems, and stories which I received from Patson Mpofu, who has managed to send three bulky envelopes to me via kind well-wishers from the U.S and U.K. He writes:

“Thank you so much for the donation of Swiss francs to purchase English textbooks. We have bought English textbooks for grades 1-7, 40 sets per class. (That makes) the ratio 1-1 for English instead of 1-10 which was the case previously…We hope the pass rate will improve this year…Thanks for the uniforms for 60 girls (see photos)”

In the envelope were many letters of thanks from the children. I wish we could print all of them! Here is a typical one, from Princess Ndlovu, 9 years old:

Sadly, many of the letters and poems describe an all-too-common problem: no parents. Half of the children at Matopo Primary school (about 200 kids) have been orphaned, and are living with relatives or in child-headed families. Another oft-repeated theme concerns water—Matopo is a very arid place indeed, and when the rains don’t come, people really suffer. Obviously, the consequences of a drought will be exacerbated this season by the economic collapse. When families cannot earn a living or even feed themselves, how can they afford to send their children to school? It’s a tragic situation.

On a brighter note, a long letter from Patson describes the delivery of the English textbooks which ETAS donations provided. He wrote: “Coincidentally the 14 March (when the books were delivered) is my birthday, so the textbooks will be a very good birthday present for me and the school…We are grateful to ETAS for helping us…We are thankful to ETAS for sending material for the uniforms. On 7 March, 60 girls, all needy pupils, received school uniforms from ETAS in the presence of Mrs Sandy Paul. Sandy photographed the pupils (see photo). Their parents danced, sang and ululated and shouted “ETAS! ETAS!”

How I wish I could have seen that!!

Patson and I have been discussing the possibility of my giving a teacher’s Development Day this coming October when we will be visiting Zimbabwe, and have already started putting together a programme. Everyone is very excited about this idea. I’m looking into ways to transport the necessary materials and books; I only hope that events will not intervene and disappoint Patson and his colleagues—keep your fingers crossed.

Many thanks to everyone who has supported this project so far! As you know, we collected money from the raffles at the convention in January in Solothurn, and the SIG Day in May in Wil. Quite a few friends, colleagues (including Cambridge University Press) and my students have also given money and materials towards the project. This money has already made a big difference to Matopo Primary School, but there is still a long list of things to be done. If you would like to help, please do contact me.

Cindy Hauert

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Help Matopo School Project!

Below you will have seen figures, worrisome to say the least, but imagine the kids suffering. A whole generation can be ruined by bad politics, war and poverty.

This blog has added advertising in order to generate money for the children on Matopo.
The more often you visit this site, the more money will be generated.

Join the cause, leave a message of hope for the children of Matopo!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Matopo Primary School project

In case anybody out there has been in a coma, things are not going well in Zimbabwe. Every news report I read boosts the inflation rate--the latest figure I saw put the prognosis at 100,000 % by the end of this year!

Even if people had money, the shops are mostly empty and people have been resorting to barter to get a few daily needs.

Rural areas, such as Matobo Hills where Matopo Primary School is located, are particulary hard hit.

The English Teachers' Association of Switzerland has been supporting Matopo Primary School this year through donations by members. I organized the project and am planning to visit the school in October. So far we have been able to get some text books and uniforms for about 80 girls. But so much more is needed!

Together with the school administrators, I am in the process of setting up a "Teachers' Training Day" which will take place in early October. As teachers have nothing in the way of support from the government, and the pupils' parents are in no position to help, this is quite a challenge. I hope to support the teachers with ideas about how to teach English (and other subjects as well) without any access to resources--this means, forget about the Internet and CD-ROM--this school doesn't even have enough paper and pencils to go round.

Many people have already helped out on this project, and with this Blog I hope to capture the attention of others who may be willing to contribute, whether it be financially, collecting and sending much-needed materials, or even just moral support.