Get to know our Mobile Science Lab teachers
Our Mobile Science Lab was started in 2017. The heart behind the lab was to give lab time to O-Level students who are not able to put their theoretical knowledge into practice due to lack of resources at their schools. The Lab is a 20-foot container, converted into a fully kitted out laboratory. Winston Churchill said ‘To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often’, We have definitely seen a few changes over the years at the lab for various reasons, one of them being Covid-19. It’s fair to say we are still finding our feet post Covid and implementing new ideas so we keep improving in what we do. Last year we said goodbye to two fantastic teachers, Tongai and Stuart who were there at the inception and we said hello to two new teachers, Nyasha and Shawn. Both are past Makomborero A-Level scholarship recipients and we thought you could get to know them! They were good enough to answer a few questions for us – even the really silly ones!
Tell us a little bit about yourself Hi there! I'm Nyasha. I’m the last born in a family of two, currently in my fourth year of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Zimbabwe. I prefer my own company over crowded social situations and I'm very passionate about making the world better than it is. My name is Shawn T Ndebvudzemene. I'm 22 years old and I have 2 older brothers and a younger sister. I am currently studying Biomedical Sciences with intentions of pursuing a degree in Medicine at the University of Zimbabwe under the Makomborero Zimbabwe Grant scheme.
What inspired you to be a mobile science lab teacher?
NYASHA: My background. Where I did my secondary school there were limited resources for education, especially in the science field. So, to have an opportunity to share knowledge with students that are in the same shoes as I was is fulfilling. It is good to show them that there is more out there than scarcity of resources. Seeing students changing their perspective about life is one of my greatest inspirations. In short it's giving HOPE to others that drives me the most to be a Mobile Science Lab teacher.
SHAWN: I have always had a passion for Life Sciences and Biology so teaching at the lab means I am doing what I love and giving something back to the next generation. An opportunity that put these two together was so appealing to me - it seemed like a perfect fit!
How have you found the first few months of teaching in the lab?
NYASHA: Life changing! Because of the love and passion that the team I work with show, there is a sense of belonging. Little things like the grins on students’ faces when a bulb lights up during an electricity experiment or the smiles on their faces whenever a chemical changes the nature of a biological cell make it all worthwhile. I feel at home!
SHAWN: Teaching at the Mobile Science Lab has been a wonderful experience. I enjoy every step of the process working with Nyasha as we set up, teach and close the lab on Saturdays and thanks to Nyasha I was able to get into the swing of things much faster in order to capture the true essence of what we do.
What’s your favourite part about being a Mobile Lab teacher?
NYASHA: The students – it’s amazing when they start to appreciate science better.
SHAWN: I'm enjoying working with the students, watching over them as they experience Biology practicals and watching them grow to love the subject as much as I do. It truly is a pleasure watching them grow in the fun learning environment we try to create each week.
What was the naughtiest thing you ever did when you were a Makomborero A-Level student?
NYASHA: I pretended to be sick in order to skip school. I spent the whole day watching movies.
SHAWN: Now that's a hard one! I'd have to say the time I was late to a meeting with Mrs Chikowore by over an hour. She had to drive all the way back to see me once I had arrived which I'm grateful for.
What’s your favourite meal?
NYASHA: Sadza and roasted fish
SHAWN: My favorite meal would be either rice or pasta but served with banana and baked beans salad which holds so many memories for me.
How do you like spending your spare time?
NYASHA: Watching Sci-fi movies
SHAWN: In my spare time I like to watch movies, play racing games and hang out with friends.
What’s your dream for the future of the Mobile Science Lab?
NYASHA: The lab to accommodate more students and for us to do tours and fares.
SHAWN: The future of the Mobile Science Lab for me involves more sessions, adding more practicals into the rotation as well as working with more schools.
What would you say to encourage students to be part of the Mobile Science Lab?
NYASHA: It’s a rare opportunity that is life changing. Besides boosting one’s confidence and grades it also optimises one's creative mind especially in problem solving which is key for the future of humanity
SHAWN: It’s a rare experience to encounter the concepts they can only theorize and imagine in our underprivileged schools. It provides a hands on experience to learn to do it yourself and that in itself helps foster understanding and something I live by is to take any and all opportunities to better yourself.
Pet snake or pet crocodile?
SHAWN: Pet snake or pet crocodile is a hard one since they are all cold blooded reptiles but if push comes to shove I will choose a pet crocodile.
Sit still for 24 hours or walk without stopping for 24km?
NYASHA: Walk without stopping 24km
SHAWN: Sitting still and preserving my energy for 24 hours
Michael Jackson or Celine Dion?
NYASHA: Celine Dion
SHAWN: I've always liked both of the artists especially Michael Jackson. Growing up, Smooth Criminal was one of my favorite songs and the video was always interesting each time I watched it.
Holy 10 or Hillzy?
NYASHA: Holy 10
SHAWN: I'm a huge fan of Holy 10 all the way.
Despite their slightly dodgy food choices, Nyasha and Shawn are a treasured part of the Mobile Science Lab team. Within minutes in their presence they are either making you smile or making you laugh! We look forward to many more years of their hard work and infectious characters at the Makomborero Zimbabwe Mobile Science Lab.
MAKOMBORERO 6TH ANNUAL SUPPORTERS EVENT 2022 – THE LEGACY CONTINUES
Though Covid-19 changed so much of how we do things at Makomborero, it served a great purpose in showing us what we truly value and the traditions we aim to uphold regardless of what is thrown at us. One such tradition is the Annual Supporters Event held by our UK trustees.
Our Annual Supporters Event has been going for six years to date. A chance for Makomborero supporters to hear how their donations have helped over the year, the event was always an in person event. That was until 2020 when due to Covid-19, the event was successfully held online both in 2020 and in 2021. With the world still trying to get back to normal in 2022, it was decided to host the event online one more time and we were so pleased to be joined by supporters from all around the world!
Each year, the highlight of the Supporters Event is the students themselves and this year was no different. We heard from two university students, Shyline and Nyasha, both of whom were recipients of the Makomborero A-Level Scholarship. Once everyone had been given a warm welcome by our host for the night, UK trustee Tanatsa, we got to hear from Nyasha about his journey from getting an A-Level scholarship with us, to receiving a University Grant and then becoming a Mutsidzira Grant recipient. Our host forgot to warn us to get some tissues ready for this bit!
Nyasha's story evokes a cocktail of emotions. He takes us from being a boy born into a polygamous family in a small village, to applying for the A-Level scholarship and what that involved for him living in remote, rural Zimbabwe. He talks with deep gratitude about how his childhood dream of becoming an engineer is becoming a reality. This young man has gone back to his community and started supporting disadvantaged school children through profits from his Mutsidzira peanut butter making project. Nyasha’s story breaks and mends the heart, makes you cry and makes you smile and above all, it gives hope! You can watch it here on our YouTube channel. Next up was Shyline, interviewed by another one of our trustees Jacqueline, live from Germany where she is currently studying. Shyline is the founder of the Zimbabwean NGO Amaani Trust, an organisation which is dedicated to improving the welfare of prisoners, ex-convicts, and their dependents through implementing transformative rehabilitation programs. Her inspiration was watching family members leave the prison system without adequate plans for rehabilitation afterwards. She runs this organisation from miles away in Germany where she is studying and she talks us through the challenges of doing this. When in Zimbabwe, she manages to go into the prisons to talk to prisoners and distribute essential items such as sanitary wear and clothes. Those who understand the prison system will have one question – how on earth has she managed to do this? Her story is one of kindness and tenacity and it comes laced with good humour. She tells it with a huge smile on her face and by the end, even those of us who were watching from our lounges were moved to give her a standing ovation. We also got to hear from founders Mark and Laura Albertyn. Their talk and answers during the Q&A were honest and enlightening with the hallmark of deep relational themes that we have come to know of Mr and Mrs A! It was clear that Covid-19 is still having an impact in ways that most hadn’t really thought about, such as impact on the culture of the organisation. Mark and Laura talked about how Covid-19 undid a lot of the relational stuff and how staff and students are having to relearn how to navigate this new challenge. One of our trustees, Simba as well as Mark and Laura, spoke honestly about the extremely difficult financial year that Makomborero has experienced and the impact it is having – less students will be recruited and the tablets which were a study tool for external students will not be supplied in 2023. The silver lining was hearing about how students have now started paying off their University Grants, the money used to pay for those currently studying at local universities. Past students have also got into a culture of giving food stuffs or monthly donations through our various giving platforms. We also heard about the continuing focus on the mental health of students which was very encouraging! Though the last three years have seen the couple continuously pivot and ‘make a plan’ to keep Makomborero going, it was obvious that their hope was still alive, they want each year to be better than the previous one. Fighting tears, they left us with these words: ‘Don’t give up sowing seeds of hope. We really believe we want to be a family – impacting a few kids with the hope that one day they will impact the nation.’
There was an opportunity for those who were keen to give into the work of Makomborero to do so in the days that followed via ‘The Big Give’. One of our UK trustees, Nicola, took our supporters through how they could do this. ‘We have a really stretched target this year, we are trying to raise £4000 or more.’ On that evening this felt like a huge ask knowing how all around the world our sponsors were feeling the economic challenges. The campaign ran until 6th December 2022 and we are happy to report that we smashed our target, raising a total of £12,940 including The Big Give’s matched funds. We are blown away by you, our supporters. Thank you!!
Finally, we heard from students at the Boarding House, a sweet and heart-warming video clip of the things they appreciated in the house. Then a song from our University of Zimbabwe students, Ebenezer, a song of celebration after going through hard times.
What an emotional and amazing night this was! Thank you to UK trustees for the work and time invested in making this event happen. The team modelled ‘making a plan’ so well when there was a glitch with showing the videos but Nick somehow made things work. Thank you to Mark and Laura for your heart for people and speaking so honestly about where Makomborero is at. Most of all, thank you to our donors and supporters for joining us on this night and for holding hands with us through the journey of educating the children of Zimbabwe. See you in 2023!
Much to be grateful for as we start 2021
Wow! Makomborero Zimbabwe has entered its second decade and we have extended a warm welcome to 27 new students (10 Lower Sixth internals, 16 Lower Sixth externals). For the first time ever, we were able to welcome into the Resource Centre one external student who was already in Upper Sixth (thanks to a very kind sponsor). We have taken on our highest number of students to date as we continue to bridge the gap in access to education for many, many students, even if in this small way.
We have also welcomed two 2020 gap year students, Milton and Yeukai, as our first ever Makomborero Zimbabwe interns. They are a natural addition to the staff compliment and we often wonder how we ever got by without them. Our resource centre is now at full capacity and has a buzzing atmosphere that all students seem to enjoy. The year 2021 started under Covid-19 restrictions. There was much uncertainty surrounding how the school calendar would be structured and this was not the easiest start to the year for our students. It brought much worry and meant that some external students had no access to studying materials. Communication with our students proved key in those times, students were in much need of both encouragement and practical solutions and the Makomborero team did their best to meet both. Our external students began their lessons in March after the Covid19 restrictions had been relaxed. We are proud of how they are adapting to new protocols and juggled lesson times as Heads of schools and their staff make massive efforts to curb the spread of the virus.
Makomborero continues to support external students with data bundles and food packs. We are acutely aware that families are still facing poverty worsened by the ongoing pandemic and we know the negative impact this has on both the mental health of students and inevitably their education. On the 20th of March, we were able to hold a workshop for both internal and external students. It was a full day of fitting in training that would have otherwise been spread out during the course of the term. As much as it was an educational experience, it was also an opportunity for students to relax, catch up, laugh and eat together.
External students were presented with backpacks, lunch boxes, water bottles, toiletries, stationery, hand sanitiser, masks, solar lamps and food packs. We had a generous donation of clothes on this occasion and these were distributed to both internals and externals. We won a grant that enabled us to purchase sustainable sanitary wear for 80 girls. We were pleased to have been able to distribute some of these on that day.
Our team is working on launching an online learning platform for our external students. It’s an amazing project that will be of huge benefit to the students once it is completed. We are hoping the project will be completed by the end of April and each external student will be issued with a tablet. Private schools opened in January online. We are incredibly grateful for the excellent education provided by our partner schools. For most of our Lower Sixth internals, online lessons were a completely new and daunting experience. We are proud of them for making the transition from their schools and the face to face learning they were so used to.
Thank you to Makomborero staff who made sure that the six students who required glasses were able to get them and to SpecSavers who were able to test the students at discounted fees. Some students’ eye sight was so bad that they had been having to hold books to their faces or sit at the very front of the class just to see. It was humbling to see their first reactions to the world in their new glasses.
We would also like to say a huge thank you to students at our partner schools for how welcoming they have been to our Makomborero students. One of our internal students, Melisah, said she felt that her classmates had been waiting eagerly to meet her! Thanks to kind donors, all internal students were also presented with backpacks, hand sanitiser, masks, toiletries, lunch boxes and water bottles. Both internal and external students have beaten the odds this first term and all students have worked very hard. We are proud of all of them!
A huge congratulations to our 2020 leavers for the incredible A-Level results and to our current A-Level students for their equally amazing AS results. We are excited to announce that our 9 A-Level Cambridge students’ results were as follows: 26A_, 3A and 2B. Our 9 AS-Level Cambridge students’ results were as follows: 27A, 5B, 1C. (I know we are beginning to sound like a broken record but, there are no A_ at AS-Level.) Well done everyone!!
We were thrilled that, compared to many parts of the world, our students were able to actually sit and write their examinations and be properly assessed. We would like to give heartfelt thanks to teachers and staff at our partner schools. Such incredible results are out of reach without their hard work. We value greatly their partnership with us and their dedication to our students and their education. The delay to the start of the first term has also meant delays in marking and releasing Zimsec results. It meant a longer than usual wait for our external student. We look forward to getting these results.
Our local university students are waiting eagerly to begin lectures. There has been a more than 100% increase in fees for most programmes. We are extremely grateful to a local company that paid all our university fees as well as stipends for our 25 students. Lots of incredible graduations were celebrated during last year’s tough Covid times and we are so proud of our students. We are grateful to have been able to keep in touch with our university students who are outside of Zimbabwe. More than ever, they have needed the support system that is their family, friends and each other as most have not been able to travel at all in the last year. In the last few months, past Makomborero Zimbabwe students have strived to make better connections with an exciting Alumni programme and they are giving back to current Makomborero Zimbabwe students through a newly formed mentorship programme. It has been a joy to watch the creativity and hard work that past students are putting into these programmes.
The Mobile Science Lab has recently re-launched. As always, it is a great benefit to students from schools where equipment for practical science lessons is scarce. To satisfy all Covid-19 protocols, the number of students per session has been halved. As much as we would like to impact more students with the excellent practical lessons on offer at the Science Lab, we have accepted that for now, this is not a possibility and are grateful for the few that will get this amazing experience.
Plans are underway to begin the Ndeipi training sessions (our small business training). The attendees are often guardians/parents of students and this helps them to feel part of the Makomborero family too.
We were excited to begin Girl Mentorship sessions after a year of not being able to meet. Sessions started in April. Mentor training was done via audio clips. Our amazing mentors could not wait to get started and have done so with much enthusiasm. It’s shaping up to be a great year for Girl Mentorship programme. As we only had a few meetings with the 2020 mentees, we presented each of them with a food pack (beans, rice, soya chunks, porridge, pasta, sweets and biscuits) at the beginning of the year. They were pleasantly surprised and appreciated the goodies.
Our University of Zimbabwe residence in Harare is still an ongoing project but we have made some fantastic progress. Walls are painted, solar panels installed, beds and study tables made and the gazebo is up and ready. We are hoping to have the first residents in the house this August. Our staff have finally moved in to their new office! They are loving the space and putting their mark on the new space.
A final sign off
Despite all that is going on or not going on, we have tried to keep things at Makomborero Zimbabwe as normal as possible. The Albertyns have continued to go to the boarding house to share meals and spend time with students. Life Skills sessions continue to be a much looked forward to part of the week by the internal students. We appreciate that we can use Life Skills to discuss topics that help us raise well-rounded young men and women. Some of our sessions have had to occur via Zoom and have been just as effective and a bit of a welcome change. Training of Girl child mentors and interns has happened successfully via audio recordings.
As you can probably tell, this first term had the potential to be extremely hard but thanks to your ongoing support, we have managed to have lots of highs and we have continued to stand as a family and champion the education of young people despite all that is going on around us. We are extremely grateful to our sponsors. We are privileged to start our journey into this new decade with you!