Well we do a lot of work, or try to do a lot of work with the schools that helps because we can cover certain aspects of National Curriculum for them. In fact one of our latest projects was this year we were awarded a 3 year grant by the Department for International Development to work with partner schools. We have already got 14 schools with partners in Kadoma and they set up not as fund raisers but as friendship links between the schools. They exchange examples of work and things like that, photo’s and what have you and music sometimes. That sort of thing. It has been a little bit hit and miss because of the problems of getting stuff across.
There is no way Zimbabwe can afford the postage to send stuff over here and we said “Well, what if we pay for it?” We were told sort of quite firmly, “Well, really that money would be better paying children’s school fees”. Because all children have to pay school fees over there and if you are an orphan you have lost one parent or two parents, very often the family has no way of paying your fees. There is a 70% unemployment rate over there and you know no unemployment benefit so you can’t argue with that. And that, that, paying school fees seemed a practical way of giving kids a chance.
Yes, we do fund raising every year. We pay for 300 children in primary school, boys and girls. At the moment it’s 70 girls in secondary school and that was because when Leslie Rose went over there (who was head of Nobel here but he had retired), he went over and worked in secondary schools there and they all said to him we have a problem because girls are not being sent. Secondary schooling wasn’t compulsory and so families would send their boys instead of their girls and they wanted to you know, yes, familiar story they wanted to alter the gender balance. So we started offering to pay for girls whose families couldn’t afford to send them because secondary fees are more than primary anyway. So we got up to 70 there.
But now the situation is so dire that we are being asked to support boys as well now and that’s something we are looking at very seriously because they say it’s not fair boys can go through to the end of primary school with support but the girls you support can go onto secondary school and the boys can’t because their families simply couldn’t find the fees. So we are looking at that and wondering how on earth we are going to raise, because I mean it is something like £7,000 a year goes out to cover the school fees at the moment and we have to raise that every year. And we are lucky we’ve had support from all sorts of generous people and schools are very good and but you can’t expect a school to fundraise for you every year. It just isn’t on, they get all sorts of requests so we just hope that some schools support it some years and so there is a lot of work goes in to collecting the school fees money. So quite how we are going to find money for boys we are not sure. We are looking at it, we hope.