Learn more about the challenges facing villages in Zimbabwe’s Hwange region and hear directly from faculty of St. Mary’s Primary School about why our support—and that of O.A.T. travelers—is so important in the video above.
By Barbara Sirigos, Director, Grand Circle Foundation
Since 2013, for more than 800 students and 22 teachers at St. Mary's Primary School in Zimbabwe, partnership with Grand Circle Foundation has meant literally refurbishing the school from the ground up.
We have built new teacher housing, classrooms, a library and computer lab and, of course, installed toilets. Once the buildings were done we were able to add solar panels to provide electricity for lights and fans. We also constructed a fence around the school to protect the children from both animals and traffic along the busy road. The classrooms and library were stocked with books and desks, and to encourage reading from an early age we created a special reading corner just for the younger children. Once the school was fenced in, the garden could be brought back to life, since the community livestock was no longer coming in to nibble.
The land here is extremely rocky, and farming is difficult, but the school wanted a garden to benefit their agricultural curriculum and eco-club program. We funded the tools necessary to start their own gardens. Supplies included shovels, forks, rakes, wheelbarrows, watering cans, shade cloth, and vermiculture worms, which would be used to start up an eco-composting facility.
As a conservation effort that focuses on poverty alleviation, the eco-composting project teaches conservation-based and cost-effective food production practices at a household level, with the potential to expand these activities to earn extra income.
We also installed a solar-powered water pump along with water storage tanks at the existing borehole to provide drinking water on tap for the students along with irrigation for the garden, and to protect the garden and students from the animals in the area we constructed a fence around the school’s perimeter.
Covid-19 and the lack of tourism hit Zimbabwe and the Victoria Falls area particularly hard, where 90% of local income is tourism related. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we were able to have ongoing food support programs at several schools that kept vulnerable children fed and safe from malnutrition during lockdown, and now that schools have reopened we’re keeping students fed with a breakfast program.
See firsthand the difference Grand Circle Foundation is making in Zimbabwe when you visit a local school during Ultimate Africa: Botswana, Zambia & Zimbabwe Safari.