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, May 7, 2012

Spring 2012 Teacher-to-Teacher Project, Matopo, Zimbabwe, by Cindy Hauert The “Send-a-girl-to-secondary-school” project has gotten off to a flying start! The new school term began in January and 10 girls, drawn from the 5 primary schools in our project, moved into their temporary dormitory and prepared to start a new phase in their lives. Heady stuff for these 12 to13-year-olds! This is all thanks to YOU, ETAS members and friends, who have so generously given these girls a chance for a brighter future. Norma Ferguson, our partner on the ground in Matopo, has been a key player in the new initiative, organizing uniforms and other necessities for the girls. She went to Silobi Secondary School in February to talk to them and take some photographs. This is what she wrote me: “The girls were very shy. I chatted to them individually as I thought they would be more forthcoming that way than as a bunch.” Norma went on to say that the girls gradually warmed to her kind-hearted approach and, though struggling with their English, managed to communicate something about themselves. Below is Norma’s report. Nokukhanya Hadebe (her name means “Mother of light”) lives with her mother and father and a younger sister and brother. Her mother knits jerseys and sells them when she can and her father sells firewood (most of which, Norma reports with some chagrin, is “poached” from Norma’s farm…). They have a small garden that feeds them but it is not big enough to produce any marketable surplus. Nokukhanya likes netball and singing. Her favourite subject is History, and she would like to be an English teacher. Beatrice Masuku lives with her widowed aunt, who is one of the best of Norma’s Sewing Cooperative members. There are 4 children in their homestead. One of the children is on ARV’s. There is a vegetable garden they help with. The aunt is able to grow for the family and even sell a little surplus. Beatrice likes to make dolls’ dresses for her younger cousins, and is good at netball and singing. Her best subject at school is Maths but she likes Science most. She would like to be a nurse when she leaves school. Siduduzile Mthunzi (her name means Comfort + Shade) lives with her grandmother, as her Mother is in South Africa and her father deceased. Her mother is sometimes able to send some money home. Her grandmother has a garden that feeds them and also provides a little extra income. She has taught Siduduzile to knit a little. Siduduzile’s best subject is History—her favourite one, English. She would like to be a teacher. Blessings Sibanda (her surname means “lion”) lives with her grandparents who are farmers. Her parents live in Bulawayo and are both unemployed. She likes to sing and play netball. Her best subject is English, though she prefers Science. She would like to train to be a nurse. Petronella Ntini (meaning “otter”) lives with her mother and 6 others in a household. Her father is in South Africa and sends money home regularly. They have a garden which feeds them and provides a little income. She likes to read and is good at netball. Her best subject is Maths and she likes Ndebele too. Chesesu Smanga (Brightness + Wonder) lives with her grandmother who is 98! Her mother works in Bulawayo. They have a small garden that supports 2 brothers and 2 cousins. Her grandmother has taught her to knit a little and make rag mats. She likes netball, and her best and favourite subject at school is History. She would like to be a teacher. Grace Mlilo (meaning “fire”) lives with her mother and father and has 3 brothers and 3 sisters. They grow vegetables and manage to sell some as well in town. Grace likes to run and play netball and enjoys singing as well. Her best subject is Ndebele and she likes Science. She would like to be a teacher. Gracious Sibanda (another “lion”) lives with her grandmother and mother. Her father is deceased. Her uncle is the Chief in the area and helps them out with food. She likes playing netball and her best subject is Agriculture. She also likes History and would like to be a nurse. Anita Ncube (which means “baboon”) lives with her grandmother and father. Her father gets piece work and also cultivates a small garden. She has a sister and 2 brothers; the sister and one brother are pupils at Silobi Secondary as well. She likes netball and being with her friends. Anita likes to sing and her best—and favourite—subject is science. Not surprisingly, she would like to be a nurse. We shouldn’t leave out Matron, Nesihlobo Moyo (“we have many relatives” + “heart”). She grew up in Kezi, schooled in Plumtree and attended Hillside Teachers’ Training College in Bulawayo, graduating in 2007. She majored in Ndebele (the local language) and Music. She has been at Silobi Secondary for 4 years. She enjoys supervising the girls’ hostel, a task she has taken on voluntarily (she doesn’t receive any extra pay). Nesihlobo loves reading and in a few years, when her brother, whose schooling she is paying for, has finished his studies, she would like to do further education in Human Resource Management. A most urgent problem is accommodation. The girls are very crowded now, with 25 girls in a hostel that has 5 bedrooms and one living room. We are investigating the possibility of sourcing a big donation—CHF 215,000 is needed—to build a new dormitory. We will be keeping you up-to-date on the girls’ doings as the year progresses. It won’t be easy for them, being away from home for the first time and faced with so many new challenges. But they have such hope in their hearts that I think they have a good chance at making a go of it. Don’t forget that we are already collecting funds for the next 10 girls to start in 2013. The AGM in Yverdon made a record-breaking CHF 2,200, but we need CHF 6,000 per year to send 10 girls for a year of secondary school. Would you like to be a part of it? Please contact me for more information. Donations of any amount are welcome. Thank you once again to all of you who are helping to change Matopo girls’ lives with your support. Cindy Hauert