News

So today we were kindly visited by a lady from the City Council offices who helped provide us with a Permit for our Pre-School when we first arrived. She took us through step by step what will be required for obtaining a Primary Permit and took a look at our land and buildings to indicate whether opening a Primary School is a feasible idea.

It was a productive meeting with myself, Greg, Prudence and Pastor Musora all present and we were able to ask some niggling questions and get everyone on the same page as to where we are at at the moment.

In short, to have a full Primary School, you must have a premises that is 3 hectares of land…! Our premises is a little bigger than 1.5 hectares. This is only a problem so far as we cannot apply to open a full school, but we can apply to open a ‘Home School’ based on  lesser requirements and the fact that the Primary School is the churches mission/project so it falls under this category. The process for this involves filling in an application form, submitting a report detailing (in detail!) our vision, values, why we want the school, who we are, why we’re here etc….which has to be informative and pushy! We also have to have new floor/area plans drawn up of the land and the buildings with their new uses and some various other paperwork.

It sounds like a lot, and it is. But we are fortunate that both Pru and Pastor M are on the same page and are both keen to get the process moving forwards quickly. We were informed today that the statutory length of time for the process to be completed is 3 months, but that she can guarantee it will actually take 5 months. So we are hoping to spend the last 3 weeks of this term completing and compiling all the documents we need, and then submitting before the end of March. This will hopefully mean we will have an approved permit by the time the third term starts.

The only draw backs are we want to be able to push to our current  parents that we are opening the school and would like to start registering asap to fill spaces and know where we will stand once we open in January, however we are not sure when we are viable enough to begin the registration process for children. Hopefully we can begin that in the second term whilst the permit is being approved.

Many things to do, lots to think about, but all very promising and exciting! We kindly ask that you please, please keep us in your prayers over the next few months whilst this process is ongoing. We need some intervention from the Big Man and those who have kept up to date with our blogs know that without persistent pestering and our pushy administrator, will need to be on full energy in order to make sure the process is completed in the quickest time possible.

If you have any words of encouragement please do share them with us, as exciting as this is, it is hard work and a daunting prospect! From nothing to a Primary School in 2 years will be a huge achievement, but we need as much support as you can muster!

Thank you again and we’ll keep you updated!

Sophie xx

I am aware many people have enjoyed reading the journey of Lorraine Machingura, one of our Zimbabwean teachers at One Way Pre School. Before I write anything else I would like to pass on her thanks to all who donate because her education is paid for by you wonderful people!

I wanted to write this blog as I wanted to inform you all about Lorraine’s next venture that she wants to achieve. To remind you all, Lorraine grew up in a rural area of Zimbabwe called Zvimba which is around 2 hours drive from Harare. She lived with her grandmother from a young age due to the death of both her parents before turning 12 years old.

The following is what Lorraine has written for us to share:

Life was not easy for us because me and my sister did not have birth certificates and my grandmother was not working, so for her to pay for food for the family and school fees was a great difficulty. In my Grandmothers family there were 6 with 4 passing away and one left who is HIV positive and me so we all grew up with a big struggle to pay for school fees. In the holiday’s when others would play I would work to get fees for next term.

Growing up in this situation made me strong and I understood the lives of orphans and the less privileged so I feel I really want to help others as much as I can. Especially the kids, just to give them love or that motherly care that most guardians can’t give for different reasons. I love children and it’s my passion, they give me joy and peace in my heart and I’d love to see them achieving some things in their life they would not otherwise achieve.

It is my dream to see kids who are orphans getting the sense of family again when they will be thinking that there will be no one to turn to. I understand their relatives will be there but they will always be full of their own problems and some of them can be abusive to the ones left behind.

Please, I am appealing to you to support me with my dream of opening an orphanage in Isaroi district a few hours out of Harare. I chose this area because there are a few orphanages in the city of Harare but there are few in this area so therefore there are many children in need of real help and assistance. Also most of the people in this area don’t see the importance of letting the children go to school. It is not seen as a priority for these orphans to go to school. My intention is to buy the land and build the orphanage in the name of my four daughters so I can leave them with something so they can have an easier life than I had. I want them to have no barriers to what they can achieve and to grow up to help those less fortunate.

I want to thank-you for reading my dream and I thank you in advance for your support and prayers. Without the help of all of you my education would not have happened and I would never have dreamt so big because I only live in a small wooden house where the only place for my kids to sit or play is their bed. As you can imagine this gets even more difficult when the rains come.

May God Bless whatever you are doing now in Jesus’ name! Amen!

I hope you enjoyed Lorraine’s dream but to make this dream a reality she needs money, clothes, blankets, books, toys and school resources. The land needs buying and the orphanage needs building but she really believes that this will happen one day and I bet there are people reading this who would love to help her and her family in some way. If you would like to help her you can donate financially through PayPal and just mark it as ‘for the orphanage’ and we will save them for her. If you would like to donate goods then please do so and hopefully we can bring them back with us in September or ship them out. Please e.mail us for more information if you can.

Nearly a whole year ago we were driving to Heathrow airport to fly to Zimbabwe and I asked Sue if she would worry about us when we were away. After allying our fears that she wouldn’t worry she merely said with a hint of jealousy in her tone; “I just wish I was going on such an exciting adventure”

Zimbabwe really has been the adventure we’d have hoped for and we’ve had some amazing times and we’ve got so many memories but Friday the 19th July 2013 will be a day I think neither of us will ever forget. We had the pleasure of visiting Hatcliffe, a large high density suburb of Harare where approximately 40,000 people live with a lack of running water, plumbing and no electricity supply. It’s Africa that we see on the TV! Comic Relief style Africa..

A brief history of Hatcliffe is an area where the government moved its poorest people to, throwing them off their land and away from the city. It’s an area I believe is forgotten about about and an area that is largely ignored. For example it was only a 30 minute drive from where we live but we had never been there or previously heard of it.

Sean Mullens whose house we live at and rent works with a charity called living hope and they are doing so much good work there already. Their visions are huge and we pray that God continues to bless them in their work. Our reasoning for visiting is because Sean wants to see if we (in the form of the charity we hope to establish Hope For Harare) can help the schools that are already running and inspire the teachers there.

During the day we visited 3 Pre schools which are operating.The last one we visited was educating and feeding over 450 children from the ages of 2-7 for free with volunteer teachers and staff. The class sizes are between 50 and 80 children and the children will eat one meal of Sadza and vegetables each day which is provided by the school. The community spirit is incredible, they work together to provide for their kids and everyone has a huge smile on their face! Education is so highly valued and all the children want to do is be in school to learn.

Within one minute of arriving Sophie was surrounded by 50-100 children all wanting to sing with her and listen to her. Those who’ve had the privilege of seeing my wife with children (particularly in Africa) know how much she loves them and how much they love her. I just found this place to be so inspiring. These adults do what they can and expect nothing in return. They do it purely and simply because they love the children!

Despite the obvious constraints of schools in this area the children are learning. They sang songs to us, counted to 10, told us the 5 senses and spoke some English. The unpaid teachers know what they’re doing. Our intention would never be to go in there and tell these people what to. Just to offer them some support with teaching using limited resources to teach in a creative way. There is so much more, however that we can learn from them. I think how much fuss our government puts on certain statistics and then you see how these people live and learn together. It puts a lot of things into perspective.

What do we intend to do? Well for now we’re unsure and we need advice and guidance. Firstly we’d love to run a training course at our school where we could invite other teachers to show them how we teach and what things we do in England that mean the children’s learning is maximised. After that we’d love to find the money to fund basic resources for these schools so they can continue their work and improve their standards.

One Way Pre-School is our Zimbabwean mission but maybe God is giving us something else we can put our time and effort in to in the future. If is in our future to work more in Hatcliffe our Zimbabwean adventure will of took a very exciting new chapter for us both. Robin Williams was right when he said at the end of the children’s movie Hook (when portraying Peter Pan) “To live would be the greatest adventure of all”

I’ve touched on this briefly in other blogs but Zimbabweans do have quite a lot to complain about. Electricity and water shortages are just two of them to mention but there are many things we notice that make things difficult here for people.

The weather however is never worth complaining about. Never in my life and probably never again in England will I sunbath twice over a winter weekend and wonder whether or not my factor 20 will be sufficient for my already white man slightly tanned complexion. (Or lobster look which is probably a fairer reflection upon my ‘tan’.) It’s supposedly the height of winter at the moment and this is the coldest time of year here in Harare yet you could glance on our weather at any time on any website and see average temperatures around 22 degrees and not a cloud in site. Admittedly the weather is a little chillier at night and when it drops to 4 degrees and you have no fire or central heating you are searching for the hoodies and blankets but I still wouldn’t call this something to complain about.

The reason I write this is to illustrate for you the differences in attire at this time of year. This morning I realised I needed to wear trousers and a jumper to work but this afternoon we’ve been doing PE and I then donned shorts and a t-shirt. Contrast this with a child in my class getting changed for sports who needed to remove leggings and track suit trousers after removing his school trousers. 3 layers of trousers is only beaten by his vest, t-shirt, polo neck jumper, school shirt and school jumper of 5 layers. I’m unsure if I have ever worn that many clothes even in the height of an English winter.

It’s at times like this when I analyse these things in far too much detail that I’m reminded that as teachers we often learn more than we ask the children to. I learn from Zimbabweans and particularly from these children a lot and it is because of this that I am very grateful for this experience!

Thank-you to everyone who has supported us to be here so I can continue to learn more and more!

Hey All,

On Wednesday Sophie and I secured 30 day extensions on our visa’s. This means we can stay here and work until 17th of July at no extra cost. It is great news but still means we are waiting on our new visa for a further years stay! They are experiencing a lot of applications to come to Zim at the moment so it may still take a while to clear our papers!

We’re hoping and praying that it’ll be sorted before the 17th of July and that we won’t need to pay an entry visa when we return from holiday at home in September! Finally we are also praying that the new visa will be for a full 12 months until this time next year!

We’ll be sending out our June Newsletter over the next few days so if you are not registered then please register!

Thank-you for all your support and encouragement. We really appreciate every message we receive!

Greg (&Sophie) x

We thank God that our first sports day was a huge success! For pictures and news check out http://onewaypreschool.co.zw/sports-day

Thanks for all your support and prayers, it was a beautiful day and we had many compliments. Most importantly the children are full of it today!

Hello All,

This Friday is our first ever sports day here in Zimbabwe. We’ve busily came up with a format and timetable and our sports day will finish with a Braai. The children will be racing in their age groups over races such as the obstacle, sack, wheelbarrow, relay, potato and spoon and backwards running as well as the straight running race. We’ve decided against this non competitive nonsense that we see at schools these days. These kids will race to have fun and all children will receive a certificate for taking part. Although those children who win their races will receive an extra first place certificate to further celebrate their achievement. It’s my first experience of seeing such little kids competing but seeing the smile on their faces and the laughs of other kids who are spectating it really is a whole lot of fun and I’m really excited for Friday. I will post pictures at the weekend if I can work out how the gallery works. (If I cannot then Sophie will because she is better at these things than me!)

Our Braai afterwards gives us the opportunity to once again interact with the school family and increase our links with the local community. The food is all being done by a local butcher and parent who now supplies the food for our school too. It is important to Sophie and I to link with our community for this schools future legacy.

Here’s a picture of our certificates the children could win designed and printed by our great friend Mr. Witness who continues to support the school so faithfully!

Sports Day certificates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally in our weather report we are currently having periods of overcast weather where we are told ‘it is very cold’ and see the children in coats, gloves and scarves! It is pretty horrid right now but I wouldn’t call 18 degrees and overcast very cold just a little chillier than normal. For example I have trousers and a jumper today for probably only the tenth time all year. As people will know I’m an embrace the flip flop type of a guy! Normal ‘winter’ weather back tomorrow; glorious sunshine and 23 degrees!

PS: We are still yet to receive our VISA’s which now expire in 11 days time so please continue to pray for those.

Teaching little kids was often one of those things that I would have turned my nose up at. I recall some friends of mine whilst we were training as teachers agreeing that heading for the early years meant too many runny noses and smelly bottoms for our liking. And I whisper it now with shame but also that there wasn’t any ‘real’ teaching in this years.

Well I’ve now been teaching early years for 17 weeks of teaching and I have to say that some of my previous worries were true. The children are snotty, dirty and sometimes smelly but actually none of that bothers me. I’m fairly surprised how much I’ve enjoyed it and I’m shocked at the progress my class have made. I was saying to Sophie the other day I don’t understand how we’ve done it but these kids are chatting away in English, writing, reading and some of mine are even subtracting! One of my previous colleagues; Nikki loved moving from year 3 to a split 1/2 class and said it was incredible the noticeable progress they make when they are younger and I couldn’t agree with her more.

I know we’re here to teach them but they also teach me so much too. They’re capable of learning at an incredibly fast rate and we’re expecting them to use and apply this new knowledge daily, but they rise to it. Sophie says that my high expectations of the kids (being used to 10 year old work) is one of the reasons for this progress and it’s also one of the reasons why when we do return to teach in England once more I will search for an early years posting. To understand where they have come from and their innate learning capacities will increase my progress as a teacher further.

Finally I would say even though you look at one of the kids books and see that they couldn’t hold the pencil in January and they are now writing the, she and he independently I could not say that his progress is greater than that of the progress of Sophie and I have made as teachers and as people. I have mentioned it before that one of the best messages we had before our excursion to Zimbabwe was about learning more than teaching and this gets more real with every day I work in this country!

On an aside note to this blog we are yet to receive our VISA’s which expire on June 22nd and we need these to stay in the country. After all the hard work we’ve done I really don’t want to stop now so if you are praying type the please ask God for a swift decision with these papers!

Thanks and lots of love Greg (and Sophie!) x

One amazing part of our life in Zimbabwe has been getting to know, working with and spending time with Lorraine and her lovely family. I recently asked her a few questions about her life. I was so inspired by her I just had to get her permission to share it with the rest of you.

Lorraine grew up in Zvimba which is a Zimbabwean rural area about an hour and half drive from the capital city, Harare. She grew up in a small house without running water or electricity. She lived with her Grandmother and her early life was filled with many tragedies. Her parents passed on when she was in grade 7 (aged 13) and her two younger sisters have also passed on more recently. Her Grandmother brought them up but it was often a struggle. Zimbabwean rural schools are fee paying and often she would be sent home from school due to not paying fees. Lorraine’s values on education are so huge so this would upset her but I’d have been more annoyed about the 10km walk back home. I told Lorraine that must be about 2 hours to walk but she laughed and replied that she’d run and it would take an hour. When Lorraine could attend school she’d attend a building with no more resources than a pencil and book and she says the odd text book to study from. She described school to me as ‘samey’ but a privilege. On the days she did go to school she was aware she had to work to pay for the next terms fees rather than play out with friends.

However education is not all Lorraine and her Grandmother would worry about, the children wouldn’t eat before school and they’d eat just once a day before bed. Lorraine chuckled through a story to me about days when they would take the maize from the side of the road to roast and then share the bits between each other for something to eat. After all this hard work I was expecting Lorraine to then tell me about passing grade 7 and continuing to secondary school. But despite her hard work Lorraine could not pass grade 7. Not because of lack of fees this time but because of a divorce between her parents. When Lorraine was only 2 they got a divorce and that meant she had no birth certificate, therefore an inability to prove her age. Unfortunately the school story doesn’t finish with something extrinsic either. Despite going to school as often as she could until the end Lorraine could not find the funds to take the examinations and therefore was unable to finish school. This would be equivalent to dropping out a week before taking your GCSE’s in England.

These days Lorraine lives in Mabelreign, Harare with her husband and 4 daughters aged between 12 and 1. Before working with us she did a number of jobs locally such as a seamstress, cook, administrator and nursery teacher before coming to work for us. She still supports her Grandmother who lives in the rural area who has 5 to look after including Lorraine’s cousin’s sister who is HIV positive and 2 babies, one of which who is also HIV positive. At 86 years old the grandmother still works in the fields to feed and school these young children with help from Lorraine.

Lorraine’s 4 children (Martha, Makanaka, Zvidozvashe and baby) are absolutely beautiful, they are polite, kind and have been incredibly supportive of Sophie and me. I asked her about what ambitions she has for the future and she passionately tells me how she wants to commit to a project to work or run an orphanage. She says she wants to “realise the potential of those forgotten children”. She wants to see orphans have the same love, care and education that God would want for them. On the other hand she says that it is hard to imagine that such dreams could occur in her life when they live in a two room house where the only place her children can play is on the bed they all share.

Despite all of this Lorraine thanks God for what she has. She is such a challenge to me. She’s had a life I cannot easily comprehend. Yet she praises God, I feel so humbled. How often in my life and the societies we grew up do we blame God for the troubles we have? Yet in Lorraine’s life she says the upbringing she had from her Grandma taught her that God is the centre of everything good. Brought up a Christian Lorraine is a passionate member of our church and despite the tragedies she has seen in her life. It’s not easy for me to understand that she is less than 5 years older than me. Lorraine believes that the reason she’s still alive is because God has some amazing things planned for her and her family. I think that she’s so hard working that she’s capable of doing anything she puts her mind to.

A few years back I watched an Oxfam advert with a phrase “people in Africa don’t want hand outs, they just want a chance to do it themselves” and with that in mind and thanks to some incredibly generous funding we are sending Lorraine back to school. She’ll be going to college for the next 6 months of weekends as well as working for us Monday-Friday. At the end she’ll have a certificate in education which she hopes to extend to a diploma afterwards. For Sophie and I, the education of adults is hugely important in the future of our project and to be honest despite everything we have done in opening the school supporting this wonderful, inspiring woman in this way is my highlight of what this project has achieved.

Mangwanani, friends.

It has been a busy time since we last blogged, so much to tell you! Firstly, we are SO excited that we now have confirmed 15 registrations! A huge answer to prayer and its only the beginning of December, Zimbabweans are known for their laid back lifestyle, this includes not contemplating registering until the last minute, so we are confident that towards the end of the month further registrations will come.

We also now have funding for 2 orphans to come to the school starting in January, they will be funded through Stewardship donations, so a huge THANK YOU to those who are able to sponsor even a small amount of money each month, these children would have no access to education otherwise! No education is free in Zimbabwe, and we want to ensure our ministry reaches to as many children as possible.

As you may have seen from our Gallery – I know it’s taken me forever to work out how to set it up! – we have been blessed with some more donations and the classrooms are now looking fully set up and ready for children! It is a delight to see some of the church children and visitors trialing using the equipment and playing in the playground, we cannot wait until January to have full classrooms! check it out here, http://www.gregsophiesangwine.org.uk/gallery

We were really excited to have Mike and Sue come and visit us last week, we had a fantastic week sorting out or cottage, putting up displays in the classrooms, spending time with Pastor Gatsi, setting up the churches website, visiting the Prayer Mountain for some R&R, visiting Chengeta for a game drive and Elephant ride and spending time together as a family! It was a whirlwind few days but a pleasure to have them here and we look forward to our next visitors, whoever and whenever they may be!

Preparing the fire for dinner during power cut…a delicious meal of boiled chicken and five bean casserole was the end product!

 

Please do keep in contact, God Bless, Sophie and Greg xx

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