2 and a half years ago, we moved to Zimbabwe. Today, we celebrate the second day of One Way School. In between then and today, an incredible amount has happened! We are so incredibly blessed and thankful to have the opportunity to work alongside the Zimbabweans in educating both children and adults and providing them with the highest standard of education that we can, alongside instilling core Christian values and good moral values!

The initial vision, for a preschool to open at One Way Minisitries, was envisioned by the late Mai Gatsi. We believe she would be so incredibly proud of how her vision has come to fruition and to see the achievements both the children and adults have made. This vision, is the founding reason we came to Zimbabwe, however, over the 2.5 years we have lived here, we have grown to love the country and the people and through the success achieved when opening the preschool, we found ourselves having dreams and visions of our own to grow and expand. Thus, One Way Primary School was created!

After considerable deliberation with the church leadership and some deep prayer and consultation with each other, we embarked upon a journey which was never going to be easy, but, if successful, was going to be amazing!

It was decided that January 2015 would be the opening of the Primary School, with Grades 1 and 2 (year 1 and 2 equivalent) opening at the same time. Thus allowing children who had left our preschool the previous year, to return immediately into the Grade 2 class. This created a need for 2 new classrooms, and a bigger office! With the ever expanding school, there was only so long we could keep falling over each other in our office the size of a broom cupboard!

We sourced a second area of the church building – the old social areas – as the best location for the 2 new classrooms. The structure was already there, therefore it would need renovating, rewiring, re plumbing and decorating, but structurally was complete. At the time, another church business was using these rooms, however due to the economic times, this was struggling and therefore was moved to a smaller location.

It was around this time, that we found out we were expecting our son! We would be lying if we did not say we had to think long and hard about whether we would be able to continue with the project, knowing we would be opening the school with a 2 month old baby in tow (he obviously knew this and that’s why he decided to pop up a month early!) The original preschool took up huge amounts of our time, day and night, with very little time for much else- so naturally it would have to be very different with a mini human on board! We decided that the best option for us, would be to return to the UK to have our baby, remain there for the first couple of months, and return in time for the opening of the school. This however, meant leaving our first baby – the preschool – solely in the hands of the Zimbabwean staff team we have worked so hard with to train!

Naturally, the staff were nervous – however we had absolutely no concerns, and rightly so, as over the following few months, the preschool continued to grow from strength to strength, with the staff completing the 3rd term, graduation, Christmas and a school trip independently. We were so proud!

Over this 3rd term, we were fortunate to have a volunteer – Ali, offer to spend 3 months living and working with the project whilst we were in the UK. She was able to offer support to the staff at the preschool including finance and computer training, as well as supporting Charles (our contractor, builder, plumber, electrician, carpenter extraordinaire!) with the renovations of the Primary School.

Charles has been an absolutely incredible bedrock for the project and it is with absolute certainty that we would not have a Primary School ready for running today, if it was not for his incredibly hard work, determination and love and support for the project itself. He worked tirelessly and the effort has been richly rewarded!

Today, we are on the second day of One Way School – a Primary School with an Early Years Department- and it is with such joy that we attend work every day, spend quality time with each child and educate them to the highest level. The new school uniforms are smart, the children are enthusiastic and the school looks professional and inviting. The current staff team consists of 10 people, with Greg and Rumbi now the Grade 1 and 2 teachers. We also have the possibility of hiring a local young person – 19 years old – to help support in the Primary School and offer music lessons for whole classes and individually – what a blessing!

The standard of education already demonstrated in the workbooks at both the preschool and primary school level, shows just how dedicated the staff are to improving the education, and therefore the future, of each child that passes through our doors. We could not be prouder of the hard work everyone has put in, and are so excited for what the future holds.

The future plans, include adding one classroom each year to the Primary School, allowing for the current year group to continue upwards through the school. We would also love to build a library – books are so scarce here and if they are found they are extortionately expensive – we would love to be able to offer the children the opportunity to become immersed in reading through school – this is the foundation of education! We also still have the possibility of renovating the dilapidated swimming pool. And we would also love to fully renovate and improve the outdoor facilities we have to offer including a sports field. So just a few bits to keep us going!

For now, we are super excited to spend the next few months focusing on the continuing development of One Way School, settling the new children and improving the Grade 1 and 2 classrooms including resources.

We are delighted that there is the possibility of a team of people coming out to visit and help us develop around May time, and JT is being an absolute super star, coping well with the heat and charming anyone who is willing to chat to him! So many things to look forward to, and many things to look back on and smile at!

We look forward to keeping you updated as we progress with the project and vision, and would like to thank each and every person who has thought of us, prayed for us, supported us financially and generally kept a keen interest in what we are up to! We cannot do this without your support, so thank you!

God Bless,

Sophie xx

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