The recruitment process for the 2021 Scholarships has started.
Over a recent weekend, 190 students from 90 Zimbabwean schools came for the first round of testing for the 2021 Makomborero scholarships. 65 of these students came from outside of Harare and Chitungwiza, and Makomborero had to accommodate 15 of them.
However, due to Covid-19 regulations, this was quite a challenge in itself. Due to the current banking restrictions that limit mobile transactions to $5000zwl (50usd) per day, it was incredibly hard getting the money to cover transport costs to all these students. We needed to distribute $60,000zwl to the attendees. By hook and by crook, we managed to borrow various mobile banking platforms and distribute the money over a couple of days. There is still no cash available in large enough amounts, with our weekly withdrawal limit is set at $1000zwl per week.
Accommodating the out-of-town students also took quite some planning. We were able to organise temporary accommodation at our UZ (University of Zimbabwe) boarding house (which is still a work in progress) and we were able to borrow bedding and mattresses for the students. Terrence and Noel, 2 Makomborero Alumni, also stayed at the house to look after them. Feeding these guests was also quite a challenge! However, in the true Zimbabwean tradition of making a plan, we were able to take advantage of the fact that currently many UZ students run roadside cafes as a way of paying their university fees and we were able to secure 15 meals of stew and sadza (the maize meal staple) for $1zwl a plate.
All the visiting students were so determined to make the most of the opportunity and here is an example of this:
The bus a female student boarded from Masvingo broke down on the way to Harare and the testing weekend. The passengers were stuck on the side of the road throughout the night and day. Unfortunately the driver would not refund the passengers their money to allow them to catch another bus. However, the girl was determined to come for the testing so she managed to find a relative who could pick her up when she got to Harare. We were able to send her a new bus fare and this student made it in time!
The first round of testing encompasses tests that take into account an individual’s raw ability. This is particularly important this year, as most of these students have missed 9 months of schooling over the year. They all embark on their GCSE equivalent exams over Christmas and into the New Year, with huge delays caused by Covid-19.
To add a lighter side to the weekend, we also organised art therapy sessions, with some lovely creations resulting.
We are in awe of the hard work of the Makomborero team in Harare, who, together with a team of Makomborero Alumni students and with a team of volunteers, made this daunting weekend possible, driving the students, cooking, organising, marking and cleaning and much, much more.
Thank you all for your commitment and we await the next stage of testing when the final dozens of students are assessed on a more individual basis.
We wish them all the best of luck!
You can see image from the weekend here: https://www.makomborero.info/2020/12/15/making-a-plan/ and an illustration of the recruitments process can be seen here: https://www.makomborero.info/recruitment-process/
A report from Makomborero on all that has happened during the 2nd term of 2020
What a weird term it has been! Covid-19 has changed the world and changed everything at Makomborero. We have had to pause many of our projects over the last few months. However, it has given us lots of time to reflect, learn how to run the office remotely, access and make lots of changes. As hard as this season has been, it has also been incredibly productive. So much time to improve and implement – when do we get time like this!
One of the biggest effects of Covid-19 and the lock down on our families has been the massive loss of income. Most of our families are not employed and rely on the informal sector to make an income for their families, mostly through vending. During the very strict lock down, it was an incredibly dire situation for them. Even as the lock down has continued, but to a lesser extent, many of the families are not earning anything and survival has become incredibly hard. We have managed to feed all our external and internal students’ families with 3 food packs each. We worked with an incredible organisation that makes products that just require water – bread mixes you can cook on the fire, healthy delicious porridge, etc. etc.! We are so thankful to be able to offer healthy, nutritious food to our families. These packs were literally life savers.
Our UZ students have also not been spared the stress of Covid-19 and having to learn remotely. We have been able to provide them with mobile data to study, living allowances for food and encouragement through this hard, isolating season. Their learning has been hindered but I have been so impressed to see them continue to push through!
Our internal students have had the wonderful opportunity to continue with online learning and incredible lessons through their school – St George’s, Hellenic and Gateway. As much as they miss real school life, this has been a good substitute and they have been able to access all online learning! They will write their end of year Cambridge examinations starting at the end of September. So lots of preparation work is going into those finals.
Our team has been working staggered hours but have managed to keep the boarding house and Makom-borero going and we are so thankful for their hard work and dedication. We have learnt how to administer our own rapid Covid-19 tests, we have learnt how to run a quarantine facility, keep our students and staff safe! It has been a massive learning curve for all of us.
We have loved hearing from all of our students – those at University, those at school etc about how even though this time has been hard, it has also been an incredible opportunity for them to learn new skills, spend quality time with their families – seek out the silver lining amidst the hard times! We have been so proud of all of them! For our students studying abroad – not being able to come home has been particularly hard too!
The team has been working on launching an online learning system for our external students so that they too can benefit from online learning and not just during Covid-19 – so watch this space. All our students – internal, external and university students have been supplied with mobile data for access to internet to help with their learning during this season.
This is also the time of year when we are able to celebrate our students who have successfully completed their tertiary studies. We have been receiving great inspiring news throughout the term.
Phillip graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery from the Central South University in China. He is now working with the Xiangya Hospital doing research on the need for a Clinical Skills Training Center at Parirenyatwa and Harare Hospitals. Lazarus graduated online from Jacobs University in Germany where he gained a BSc in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Ruvimbo graduated from Agnes Scott University in the US - thanks to a Mastercard - ALA scholarship. She has now secured a job at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a research associate doing cancer research. We wish them the very best as they start a new chapter in their lives!
Finally, we have embarked on an incredible project – we were given a property last year to open a residence for our University students. It needs renovations and we applied for a grant to do this. During lock down we decided this was the perfect opportunity to convert the garage at the University house into an incredible office for Makomborero. Our admin office has always been at our house – in a tiny storeroom! It was about time! It has a wonderful storeroom, bathroom and kitchen area – with a big, open plan office space! We are hoping to finish the conversion this month and move into our new office soon! The other incredible news is that the Beit Trust has approved us for a grant to renovate the UZ Residence! We hope to start the work in October! It is incredibly exciting!! Thank you Beit Trust for believing in our vision!
So as you can see Covid has limited the activities we can report on but know that we are incredibly grateful for your continued support of us and Makomborero during this hard year we find ourselves in. Stay Safe!
August's News from Makomborero
This month, we reflect on the fantastic Zoomfari held at the start of July, and have plenty of encouraging stories about past/present Makomborero students to cheer you!
Zoomfari in SA!
Wow! What an amazing Zoomfari! Thank you so much to those of you who were able to join and supported Makomborero and the Shamwari Community Fund. It was incredible and we raised nearly £500 between the 2 charities!
Elephants, Buffalo, Lions, Leopard & Rhinos (the big 5) were all seen in the first hour! If you missed out - you can still watch it here!
We are always amazed and humbled by the generosity of our supporters, particularly in the UK. Vital supplies arrived this month funded by our supporters: books for the Girl Mentorship Programme, styluses for our students learning online and some charging cables! These small but generous acts make such a difference to the lives of our students - thank you!
Inspiring stories to give you hope!
At Makomborero, our family simply grows each year as we accept new students. Although the 6th formers leave the boarding house, they never leave the family and their numbers continue to grow from strength to strength.
I love hearing about former students (some of whom I met on my visits to Zim) and seeing how they're maturing into young adults - still with a passion to help and serve others.
So make a cup of tea, and sit back and enjoy reading these really inspirational stories.
From Edwin: " I owe so much to numerous people, some of whom I have never met. Some of them are far away like the Trustees and Sponsors of Makomborero, who never see the effect of their contribution on others’ lives – the effect on mine and on those who get lit by my little lamp of life."
From Tadiwanashe: Who opens up about the challenges of life after Makomborero in a strange university - and what he learnt about himself and his mental health.
From Simba: "An eagle earns its honour from the storms it endures." Simba has done phenomenally well and become the youngest ever Chief Pharmacist in Zimbabwe! Read his inspiring story - like the others, the lessons he learnt from Makomborero have stayed with him and helped him to keep going!
Our students constantly face obstacles and challenges - but find ways to break them down and succeed! Dr Phillip Mukuze (a former student) recently graduated from Central South University, Changsha, China. It was so impressive that he overcame massive obstacles, including needing to learn fluent Chinese in order to study there!
Above are some photos of Philip in action, which he shared saying: "It has been fun going to the hospital, asking the patients questions in Chinese…even though they use a local dialect, some of them I actually understood!"
View from the Community
This month, we're showcasing one of the initiatives started by Makomborero Alumni Rura, Ropa, Chiko and Taku (all studying at university in USA). They have set up Fundo, which is a new learning platform. Here is some information about the initiative:
“The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly upset the entire world, but it has disproportionately affected most students in Zimbabwe. The public school system lacks resources to facilitate online learning during this pandemic, hindering students from accessing decent education.
Fundo is a learning platform that will provide short video lessons that are specific to the ZIMSEC syllabus and make them easily accessible through WhatsApp, YouTube and a public Google Drive folder. The goal is to empower grade 7 and O’ Level students to sit for their national exams. Fundo volunteers are pitching in to make this a remote learning accessible to students."
They are looking for volunteers to help so check out their page or Youtube site and see how you can help - what a fantastic initiative!
Thank you for your continued support and stay safe!
Grace, on behalf of Mark and Laura and the whole Makomborero team