End of year update: successes and challenges in Zimbabwe

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It has been another successful year for Tariro and the children we support.

At the end of year our primary school children wrote exams to see how well they might perform in Secondary School. It is a brutal system but we have to work with it. To our delight five of the children did well enough to gain places in really good mission schools.

They will go in as boarders which is what they want. The western world on the whole is not in favour of boarding school, except for Harry Potter and his wizard friends, and those kids who have no alternative. Our children want to be boarders so that they can get away from the endless chores and labour of home, and be in a place where they can study well, and of course play sport. So Munyaradzi and Nyasha will be going to St Augustine’s; Munashe and Rejoice  will be at St Matthias Tsonzo; and Memory from Shurugwi will be at Daramombe Mission.

Munyaradzi is to fulfil his dream of going to boarding school
Munyaradzi is to fulfil his dream of going to boarding school

Four other children from Shurugwi, Lucky, Lucia, Gift and Florence were rather more average in their results. This produced a problem for us. Tariro is quite strapped for funds. Educating these kids will cost about £1,000 each a year. Is it right to spend money on them when we could find cleverer children who won’t go on at school because they don’t have the money?

We decided we would. These youngsters are ours and just as parents will stay with their own children even when they don’t perform so well, we must do with ours.

We also need to remember that school isn’t all about doing brilliantly. Those who have been at Secondary School do better in life because they have learned more even if they didn’t pass well; they have learned to work with other youngsters and made friendships that will underpin their future lives. Then, too, school is a place of safety. They will manage their teenage years better if they stay in school. They will be less likely simply to be peasant drudges for the rest of their lives. They will be less likely to get pregnant young, or get HIV young, or drift off to the towns to join the large crowds of destitute unemployed.

Eunice makes jewellery
Eunice makes beautiful jewellery

Yet paying their fees is not enough. We also need to make a plan to support each one of these children. We already make sure they are properly fed. We need to keep checking on their home situations and encourage what relations they have to help them study. We have found a couple of older boys who will help them with their work while we pay for their own A level studies.

Then there has been a third kind of success. Some of our youngsters do really badly in school and come out with nothing. Learnmore was one such. She is a really nice girl and wants do to do well but ended up with just one O level. So we found her a place in a vocational school preparing for the hotel industry. Lo and behold, Learnmore passed all her subjects, probably the first time in her life she has done well. Now she has a placement in a really good hotel in Mutare and I saw her on her first day of work, in her uniform looking so proud of herself I almost wept.

Eunice is another such. She has very little secondary schooling and struggles to talk English. But she has done a training in producing non precious jewellery which is really beautiful; I brought some back with me this time and it was eminently saleable.

The bottom line of all this is money. If you can send us any amount of money it will be welcome. If you would like to support one of our successful kids –

  • £500 will keep one at a boarding school for a term;
  • £300 will pay a term’s fees for one of our day scholars.
  • £70 will pay for a primary school child for a term.
  • And £30 a month pays for the groceries we give each child to make sure they are fed and clean.

If these amounts are more than you can afford on your own why not ask a friend to share a donation with you? Or ask your parish if they could give one collection to Tariro (we can send you publicity material). Or maybe you could put on a coffee morning or even, if you live in the right environment, a dinner party – and just bully your guests into giving £100 each. There are all kinds of ways of raising money for Tariro and most people who do it find it is actually rather fun.

And the money, which was doing nothing is now translated as money should be into a child who was hungry and is now well fed; who was empty of hope and now sees a future opening out in front; even some who had little idea about the God we Anglicans worship and have now become faithful, practising and enthusiastic Christians.

Money can do lots of good when it is properly used. If you can donate please go towww.tarirouk.com/donations or send a cheque to Tariro, c/o the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield, West Yorkshire, WF14 0BN.  You can email me at nstebbing@mirfield.org.uk to ask any questions you have about where your money will go, or for more information about what we need.

They should be asleep!

I would like to end with one final picture which shows that for all their hardships, children are children the world over – a group of Tariro children reading their Enid Blytons rather than going to sleep!

God’s blessings be upon you,

Nicolas Stebbing CR

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