Overflowing pride for the Chengeta Primary and Secondary School!
by Brian Pettit – Zambezi Cruise and Safaris.
One of the projects with which I was involved back in 2008, when I was based at Chengeta Safari Lodge, was the building of what was to become Chengeta Primary and Chengeta Secondary School. The original school was located in the old tobacco drying sheds of a farm situated on the main Ngezi Road about equidistant from both Chengeta and Pamuzinda. Most of the Primary Age children of our staff attended. The existing “school buildings” were proving inadequate both in terms of size and facilities and so the decision was taken to build a new school.
The children previously had to sit on the floor in the old buildings and so the first step to improving the situation was to manufacture, in Chengeta’s workshops, a number of benches and tables for the pupils to sit at. At the same time we obtained a site for the proposed school on an open area where the local cattle were regularly grazed.
The parents became involved and produced enormous numbers of farm bricks and we set about the first classroom, which was to be a double, and a toilet block of several cubicles. Initially there was no running water on the site but I had managed to obtain a very large metal drum in Harare and this was set up and filled, when required, with water carried in by tractor. A visit by an elderly water diviner highlighted a potential spot for a bore which was duly drilled and, lo and behold, the water gushed out thereby ensuring a constant supply of fresh water for not only the school but also the local population and their animals. The parents became involved and produced enormous numbers of farm bricks and we set about the first classroom, which was to be a double, and a toilet block of several cubicles. Initially there was no running water on the site but I had managed to obtain a very large metal drum in Harare and this was set up and filled, when required, with water carried in by tractor. A visit by an elderly water diviner highlighted a potential spot for a bore which was duly drilled and, lo and behold, the water gushed out thereby ensuring a constant supply of fresh water for not only the school but also the local population and their animals.
To inaugurate the new buildings, when they were finished, we had an open day and all the children, parents and local politicians attended. Lunch was provided and numerous speeches took place. I could never have visualized, back then, what our initially small project would develop into. From the humble beginnings of one double classroom and toilet block for primary age children it has now grown into a total of eight double classrooms split between the two schools and a second toilet block has been added together with a fine assembly hall, kitchen and administration offices.
Future Plans and Thanks to all our Sponsors
All that has been lacking throughout was a source of power, as the costs of running in main electricity was prohibitive. Fortunately, as we speak 15.11.2018, thanks to the generosity of our many benefactors and local businesses a Solar system for both the school and Teachers’ accommodation has been installed. This will enable us to move on to the provision of computer training and its associated technology so important throughout today’s world for a successful economy and the employment prospects of the students concerned. The initial number of children expected to attend was estimated at approximately 240 and that has now blossomed to a total of over 600 between the two schools. The Primary School has some 430 and the Secondary School approximately half that number.
2018 Awards ceremony
It was my very great pleasure earlier this week(09.11.2018) to be invited to attend at the annual Primary School Merit Awards prize giving ceremony. There were an enormous number of prizes and certificates to be distributed and this very pleasant part of the day was shared between the guest of honour from a local mining company and the Lady Wife of the Lodge’s Managing Director.
I found the entire proceedings emotionally moving. To see all those little happy faces sitting there in the now long completed assembly hall was so rewarding.
Judging by the volume of the vocal encouragement there was no doubt, as each child concerned went to the stage to receive their award, about the amount of support they received from Mums, Dads, Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents. Whilst serious in its nature there was almost a party atmosphere and all who attended seemed able to participate in the proceedings. Various individual children, as well as groups, all played their parts and I was amazed at how unselfconscious were all the children involved despite some being of a very young age. They spoke into the microphone loudly and clearly and those with roles in the plays carried them out to perfection.
Well done to everyone involved – and thank you all for inviting me. It was a great trip down memory lane!
Guided Tours Available.
Most of the Zambezi Cruise and Safaris Tours that incorporate either Chengeta or Pamuzinda Safari Lodges, offer a guided tour of the school and its facilities as an optional extra activity. This provides an ideal opportunity to see, at first hand, our progress to date – despite all the obstacles we’ve encountered – and be able to contribute to our continued plans for the future either financially or materially. Gifts of the likes of pens, pencils, crayons, colouring books or, indeed, anything that would appeal or be useful to school age children anywhere, would be thankfully received and welcomed with open arms.
Take a hanky as this can be an emotional experience.