Zimbabwe #2: Nyabira CCAP Primary School

by Jennifer Ellis, for the team

Dear Outreach friends, 

Our morning started with a trip to Nyabira CCAP primary school. Nyabira is a poor community of displaced farm workers. We were accompanied there by the Moderator of CCAP Harare Aston Galanti and the General Secretary Kingstar Chipata. On arrival, we were met by the Head of School Ms. Asnath Gondwe, who hails from Malawi and has been working at the school for seven years. She is a single mother and lives in housing on the school compound with her family, along with 28 teachers and three student teachers.

She described to us the successes and challenges of living and working at the school. There are 1,351 students ages 4-15 with an approximately equal number of girls and boys. The children come from a large geographical area and some as young as five years old walk 12 km (approximately eight miles) to school each day. Each child is fed once a day at school,  a meal of sadza (a moist cornmeal “biscuit”)  and relish (rape greens). There is a small garden on the grounds, but the volunteer cook must search each day for enough greens and firewood to cook and feed the children.

Nyabira is a CCAP primary school with some government support. School fees are $30 per child per term ($90 per year) but nearly half of the families cannot pay and are admitted anyway. To raise additional funds, the school has begun to raise rabbits and they are celebrating their success so far. Their initial investment of 13 rabbits has now multiplied and reached 77! 

Some of the challenges the school faces include very large classes, with one teacher per 68 students. The students need new textbooks, and the school needs a vehicle. There are four classrooms which have been subdivided to accommodate the different classes, but eight more classrooms are ultimately needed. Teacher housing is very poor and in disrepair. Despite these difficulties, education at the school continues as the number of children continues to grow. Our next visit was with the feeding program at Rugare. Rugare is a village originally developed for railroad workers and and their families before Zimbabwean independence. Here 50 of the community’s neediest children ages 3-18, many with HIV, are fed each day with support from the CCAP church. It is especially important for these children with HIV to receive regular meals; without adequate nutrition the antiretroviral medications they take may damage the liver. The feeding program is led by Mr. Phiri, who grew up in this neighborhood and is most generously providing much of the food with his own income. The facility includes a large kitchen, toilets and showers for both girls and boys, and a washing area for the school uniforms.

Our day ended with a visit to Lovemore House. Here we met with an enthusiastic group of men and women who were training to become lay evangelists for prayer houses, which are growing by leaps and bounds in and around Harare. In addition to theological training, these lay evangelists learn sustainability skills to share with their worship communities. These skills are taught by the staff at Lovemore Home and they include farming, animal husbandry, carpentry, welding, sewing and pattern design. By staying in Harare to learn these skills, evangelists are able to stay closer to home and save money and time previously spent on trips to Zambia to receive this training.

It was a busy and blessed day full of stories, smiles and gratitude, tempered by the very real need for increased physical and monetary support for these life giving and God graced programs.

In grace and peace,

Jennifer Lowe Ellis
First Presbyterian Church, Clarksville TN