Historical Context - Sponsorship for Children of All Ages
The Preschool Children in the Nhimbe villages are able to attend our own Nhimbe Preschool. Between 25 and 50 children graduate from our preschool each year. Please see Nhimbe Preschool for more information. School in Zimbabwe is not free and so we began sponsoring children to attend their nearby schools, beginning on Jaiaen's first trip in 2000. Over the years, inflation in Zimbabwe has continued to escalate and make it impossible to create any consistent budget for school sponsorships. Our preschool and occasional special student are the exceptions.
Generally all the children from grade 1 to the Secondary level go to local elementary (grade 1-7) and secondary schools within walking distance from their homes. Walking distance in rural Zimbabwe is much further than what we think of in the US. It can be up to 5 k.m. These children attend school there, and then gather for our Youth Well Being Program at the Nhimbe Community Center. The Secondary school for Nhimbe goes through Form 4 (like our junior year of high school).
Older Children who have proven their exceptional study habits, earnest desire to learn, and an aptitude above the norm, may be provided with special schooling opportunities if funds are available. If you are interested in helping an older student with their tuition, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can begin a dialogue about the students currently in need.
In our March 2000 request for lightweight school supplies, over 40 pounds of pencils, pens, erasers and rulers were donated. With Cosmas Magaya's help, these supplies found their way into the primary and secondary school to supplement the supplies that parents must provide. This included a few special items for teachers.
Also in March 2000 we conducted interviews with village residents and the headmaster, we learned that 20 children in secondary school share 1 textbook and 75% of the children could not pay the school fees for schooling. The pattern that appeared in the survey results was that the families with many children most always could pay their fees; this challenged the preconceived stereo type that adults with large families become unable to take care of themselves. After reviewing the situation, we decided to set up scholarships for children unable to pay school fees, as well as upgrade the teaching materials available.
Why Sponsor a Child?
There is no "free" education in Zimbabwe. There is no legal requirement for a child to attend school. All parents desperately want their children to go to school because they know that it drastically changes their children's future. Education gives them the knowledge, skills, and abilities to compete in their livelihood, and the personal power to relate to an ever-changing world. Unfortunately, due to poverty, some parents are unable to pay the school fees.
In our interview with the headmaster of one of the schools in Mhondoro where children attend from the adopted villages, he explained that children walk many kilometers to come to school even when they haven't paid their fees. He said they aren't too harsh on the children, but they do have to send them back home. Most of these children continue to return regularly, hoping to learn.
Nhimbe for Progress is working to upgrade the school resources as well and so have been developing a library. When we learned that in secondary school, 20 children maybe sharing 1 textbook, it was clear that there is a desperate need for textbooks and library books. If you are interested in donating to this part of the program, your tax-deductible donation helps to purchase books there to be part of the library. Shipping books from here hasn’t proven to be practical due to shipping costs although due to an incredible woman with a large vision called Books For Humanity, we have managed to get assistance with several shipments! If you have books to donate, please contact us. When traveling to Zimbabwe, volunteers carry school supplies and teaching materials, so the costs are reduced. Let us know if you're interested.
Cost of Sponsorships
School fees are paid annually in January in Zimbabwe. We seek the educational sponsorship donations in the fall each year.
In interviews with village residents, we found that 75% of the children need financial assistance to pay school fees. Uniforms are a compulsory part of the school system in Zimbabwe, although they are often overlooked for the poorer child. An average of $10 of our sponsorship fee goes to buying the fabric for the uniform, and the parent barters for the sewing services to have the uniform made. We want to help Zimbabweans in their desire to improve the face of the rural lifestyle, and education is a major key.
For many years following the dollarization of 2009 the government was been requiring that the parents pay additional fees in the form of beans, rice, maize, and other groceries so that the teachers receive more payment for their services.
B.O.L.O. - Build Our Learning Opportunities
Due to the lack of educational materials and creative learning in the rural areas, we have been working towards a vision of creating our own primary school. Much can be learned about running a school by our experiences with the preschool where we feed the children daily. Our goal was to establish a Nhimbe for Progress first grade, and then add a grade a year. Since the dollarization in 2009, we have been required to pay much higher expenses to run the project as a whole, and so are still waiting for the government to step forward and pay teachers in our school a living wage. When they are able to do that, we will be able to support the growth and evolution of education for the young. In the meantime we continue to hold the vision of building a primary school.