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Former security guard helps build schools

by Staff reporter
20 Jun 2022 at 06:40hrs | Views
THE painful experience of walking barefoot for 30km to and from school daily inspired Mr Kumbulani Tshambo of Victoria Falls to help build schools and reduce distance travelled by learners.

Without a formal education certificate to his name, the former security guard has been instrumental in building schools and a clinic to reduce distances walked by children to get an education.

Mr Tshambo (41) attended Chisuma Primary School in his rural home, outside Victoria Falls, and Hwange Government Secondary School.

As fate would have it, he failed his Ordinary Levels and blamed this on walking a long distance to and from school.

But a burning zeal to better the lives of younger people in his community made him want to improve the quality of education.

When he met the director of Buy A Brick Foundation, also known as Team Africa, Mr Gibby Leonard, his dream came true.

Together they have built about 15 schools, some from scratch, a clinic, a lodge and started several solar-powered community garden projects in Hwange Rural District Council's Chief Mvuthu and Chief Shana areas since 2004.

Mr Leonard and his wife Leigh visit annually to monitor the projects and are in Victoria Falls with their grandson Cole, who is also working on humanitarian projects.

"My father died during the first term as I started Grade One in Binga where he was an officer-in-charge of police and we relocated to Chisuma in the second term. The school was far and not conducive.

"I felt the pain and it got worse in 2001 when I completed my O-level and started working as a security guard. Seeing children running barefoot to school reminded me of my school days. I vowed to do something for the future generation and when I met Mr Leonard, my dream came true," said Mr Tshambo.

Mr Leonard, from the United States was a tourist in Victoria Falls and he and Mr Tshambo met while jogging in the morning.
The two became accustomed to each other and ended up talking about their communities. Mr Leonard became interested in local development.

"I told him about my community and he was interested in development. We visited Headman Mpisi who explained to him Local Government procedures and advised that we engage the local authority which we did and signed a memorandum of understanding to work with council in community development," said Mr Tshambo.

This marked the start of a partnership that will be 20 years old next year. The foundation is spearheading spiritual, agricultural, medical and educational projects which Mr Leonard said are anchored on belief in God.

Buy A Brick Foundation has renovated infrastructure and built classroom blocks at BH 36 Primary School, BH126, Simakade, Nyongolo, Chimbombo, Woodlands, Masue, Badombe/Matetsi Primary and Secondary, Batoka secondary, Chidobe secondary, Vulindlela and Dadani Technical Secondary schools.

At some of the schools they have added kitchens for schools' feeding programmes, refurbished and furnished teachers' cottages and installed solar-powered water systems. At some schools, structures had been idle for years and children were learning under harsh conditions.

At Matetsi the foundation built a boarding facility with 26 rooms for more than 100 learners and a security room which has helped the school register as an examination centre.

New schools built by Buy A Brick Foundation include Badombe/Matetsi and Masue primary as well as Vulindlela and Chidobe secondary.

Government has identified Chidobe secondary as a model school for all rural schools after the foundation built a state-of-the-art facility with red bricks, metal trusses on the roof, security rooms, installed a solar-powered borehole, connected electricity and installed WiFi services. The school has an enrolment of about 120 pupils.

The foundation has also built Leona Clinic which has a maternity wing among other facilities near Vulindlela Secondary School.

The clinic was named after a local girl, Leona Sibanda, who was attacked by a buffalo at the age of 15 and dropped out of school after struggling to get medical assistance.

All the school projects are in partnership with Hwange RDC while work is underway to construct Mosi-oa-Tunya 2 High School in partnership with Victoria Falls City Council. It will be the first school to have a double-storey structure in the resort city.

Working with Agritex, the foundation has started solar powered community gardens in Dakwa, Chidobe, BH 25 in Ndlovu, Bethesda Primary School, Chikandakubi, Maphucula and BH 33 where villagers are growing vegetables for sale and to improve nutrition.

Villagers in Chidobe also now have a new grazing area after the foundation worked on a four-hectare wetland popularly known as Echibini, which was tilled to plant grass for fodder.

The projects aim to enhance sustainability of communities and dovetail with the country's National Development Strategy 1 towards Vision 2030.

Mr Tshambo thanked the community, traditional leaders local authority and Government departments for the support and contributing to the goal.

Mr Leonard said plans are underway, funds permitting, to spread to other districts and other parts of the country.

He said working with the Social Welfare Department, the foundation is doing a
schools breakfast feeding programme and before Covid-19 outbreak, 5 000 kids were being fed each morning in schools outside Victoria Falls.

"The reason we are here is to show love for communities. We have been on the ground since 2004 and we are almost 20 years providing service to Zimbabwe. Funds are limited but we have to raise the money.

"We are raising money through generous donations in the US and our projects co-ordinator Tshambo here who has been working for the people for many years," he said.

Source - The Chronicle
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