TUJATANE “Let us all hold hands together” – Tongabezi Trust School
After Mike’s recent circuit trip to Zambia he spent time with a charity initiated by one of our Zambian clients, Tongabezi. We wanted to make a difference and have sent a donation for the school to purchase some much needed educational games and supplies. Here is the story of how the Tongabezi Trust School, Tujatane all began and the impact the school has made to the lives of the local people, and now ours.
TUJATANE, Tongabezi Trust School is a primary school, set up by Vanessa Parker who first came to Livingstone, Zambia as a volunteer teacher. Vanessa is married to Ben Parker who established Tongabezi Safari Lodge in 1990.
The aims of the school are to give as many local underprivileged children an education by offering small class sizes, quality teachers, and a variety of extracurricular activities such as computers, sports, music, drama, traditional dance (they are National champions!), conservation, chess and art, plus an HIV/Aids club and a girl empowerment programme. All children are encouraged to pursue their loves and talents. The children love welcoming visitors to their school, so many guests from the lodge are able to visit, as the school is only a short walk away.
The school began in 1996 with 15 Tongabezi staff children and now has over 220 students who all walk to school – some from as far as 1 ½ hours walk away. The children who attend Tujatane come from families with no running water and they generally live in one or two roomed mud huts. The children have to contribute to chores at home, including collecting firewood and water. Many of the children live with extended family, some sadly due to being orphaned but also for many, so that they can live closer to education. From having this opportunity to get an education, some former students are are now studying law, medicine, accountancy and much more at universities in Zambia, South Africa and the US.
The school has also started a food programme as many children come to school without breakfast and some may only have one meal a day. Since this began, they have seen a dramatic rise in the academic results. Children are able to focus in class with something in their tummies! $10 per month provides a child with porridge for breakfast and at break time for lunch, the children have Nsima (the local maize meal staple) with tomato, onion and cabbage and either beans or boiled egg.
While the cultures of different countries vary in myriad ways, they also contain many shared values. Among these is the universal understanding that education is a core component of healthy development. Apart from the first classroom, which Tongabezi built, the development of the school has been made possible through the generous sponsorship of patrons all over the world. The school has charity status in the UK, is a registered Trust in Zambia and is completely funded through donations. Contributions include sponsorship for individual children, teachers salaries, help with our food and medical programs and building projects. The school currently has seven classrooms, an office, a library, a kitchen, an amphitheatre, a storeroom, a computer room with eight donated laptops and a fantastic new music room with guitars and keyboards as well as local instruments such as the marimba.
Through education, Tujatane becomes the starting point for change. The children and their parents understand that education will bring opportunity. We can all help to make opportunity a reality. Won’t you consider seeing how you can provide towards the cornerstone which improves the living conditions for the people of Tongabezi.