Tuesday, 6 August 2013

What happened to the 15?

So what happened to the 15 students who graduated from Makomborero last year?

This is a question we get asked all the time and I thought it would be nice for you to have a short update as to what these precious 15 are up to!!

Through the kind donation of a doctor couple in the UK we have been able to set up our own University Grant system!  We are so excited by this and know that many of the students will benefit from this in years to come.  The vision is that this grant fund becomes a Makomborero Zimbabwe past student support grant, with the initial injection of money coming from this couple.  Students will pay back their grants to Makomborero Zimbabwe once they start full-time employment and thus it becomes a sustainable grant but also something inspiring for Ex Makomborero Students to be part of giving back!

Here is a brief story for each of them!

Mike M
A-level Results:                Maths A*, Physics A*, Chemistry A
University:                         Mike has had to move to South Africa.  He is an orphan and his extended family were unable to look after him here.  Due to this his university options have been delayed and he has applied to a Master Card Scholarship for August 2014 and we wait to hear how he has done.

Destiny M
A-level Results:                Maths A*, Physics A*, Chemisty A*, Further Maths B
University:                         Lipscomb University with a full scholarship to study Engineering.  He will either leave in August or January to new study life in America and we look forward to welcoming him back to Zimbabwe one day.

Lesleen M
A-level Results:                Maths B, Biology A*, Chemistry A
University:                         University of Zimbabwe Studying Medicine – she has been granted a scholarship through PSMI for her tuition fees.

Edwin M
A-level Results:                Maths C, Physics D, Chemistry C
University:                         Edwin has been accepted by the Airforce of Zimbabwe to be an aircraft technician and has started his training. 

Brian M
A-level Results:                Maths A*, Physics A*, Chemistry A*, Further Maths A
University:                         Actuarial Science at NUST University in Bulawayo - He will be receiving the Makomborero Zimbabwe Grant to help him pay for his fees.

Mercia  K
A-level Results:                Maths B, Biology A, Chemistry A
University:                         Is doing an internship with a local investment company, learning the ropes of being an analyst and studying a BCom through UNISA sponsored by this company.

Simbarashe N
A-level Results:                Maths A*, Biology B, Chemistry A
University:                         University of Zimbabwe Studying Pharmacy - He will be receiving the Makomborero Zimbabwe Grant to help him pay for his fees.

Tinashe Z
A-level Results:                Maths A*, Physics A*, Chemistry A
University:                         NUST University In Bulawayo studying Electronics – He will be receiving the Makomborero Zimbabwe Grant to help him pay for his fees. 

Ryan M
A-level Results:                Maths A*, Physics A*, Chemistry A*, Further Maths B
University:                         University of TUFTS in America on a full Scholarship studying Engineering.  We know he will be back in Zimbabwe sowing back into this nation one day. 

Peter M
A-level Results:                Maths A*, Physics C, Further Maths C, Accounts C
University:                         He has an internship with a local company as an accounts clerk and they will pay for his University Studies through UNISA.  This is huge for Peter and his family.

Tinashe R
A-level Results:                Maths A, Physics A, Chemistry B
University:                         University of Zimbabwe Studying Pharmacy – He will be receiving the Makomborero Zimbabwe Grant to help him pay for his fees.

Tinaye H
A-level Results:                Maths A*, Biology A, Chemistry A
University:                         University of Zimbabwe Studying Medicine – He will be receiving the Makomborero Zimbabwe Grant to help him pay for his fees.

Terrence C
A-level Results:                Maths A*, Physics A*, Chemistry B
University:                         University of Zimbabwe Studying Electrical Engineering – He will be receiving the Makomborero Zimbabwe Grant to help him pay for his fees.

Rodwell K
A-level Results:                Maths A*, Physics A*, Chemistry A*
University:                         University of Zimbabwe Studying Medicine – He will be receiving the Makomborero Zimbabwe Grant to help him pay for his fees.

Munyaradzi U
A-level Results:                Maths A, Physics A*, Chemistry A*
University:                         University of Zimbabwe Studying Medicine – He will be receiving the Makomborero Zimbabwe Grant to help him pay for his fees.

We are so so thrilled of all our students accomplishments and know that they will be do us proud as they start their tertiary education.  They have worked so hard to get where they are today and they should be encouraged to continue fighting for their futures!!  We feel privileged to walk this road with all of you.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Want to be inspired!!!

Last term we asked Sean to come and do his Ndeipi training with all the parents of the students we sponsor.  What a great morning we had with him.  His vision is to empower people with passion and drive to come up with an income generating idea with just $1, using their individual talents and gifts.  Too often in Africa people are paralyzed by poverty and feel that they need a huge amount of capital to make money.  Sean’s heart is to help show people that you can use the small bit that God has given you and be faithful with the little.  So he inspired them, then gave each person a $1 Loan, an envelope, notebook and pen and sent them on their way. 
Well, just over two months later we had feedback time!  Wow – some of the stories are truly amazing!!  During the feedback session he taught families how to budget, work with what they have and avoid getting into debt.  So many of our students families are unemployed, living in a tiny room in a house with 4 other families, life is a daily struggle for survival.  Sadly for two of our students families, we found out this week that they were only eating one meal every second day the last week or so.  I thank God that we can step in and help in crisis practically but also try and give them tools to climb out of this wicked cycle of poverty!
Thank you Sean for inspiring us!!  Here are a few of the stories!

Rufaro’s mum
She is a single mum, trying to raise 3 children on her own and is unemployed.  A few years ago she bought 2 commercial sewing machines when she had some money and they have just been sitting in her home, as she has never had the money to buy fabric.  After leaving the meeting with Sean, she asked her mother in the rural areas to dry different types of leafy vegetables for her.  She ended up with sacks of dried veggies and used the $1 to buy bags to package the dry leaves and then sold them to the local township supermarkets.  The money she raised she used to buy material to start her sewing business.  She then started approaching shops in town and her township, getting orders for baby nighties, and started sewing.  She hasn’t looked back and she has employed a tailor to help her because of the high demand for her sewn goods.  This testimony blew us away as she is now supporting her family fairly well, she is still drying and selling the vegetables too.  She has joy and life back in face and it was so special to see!
Mai Banga (our house mother), Johannes (our caretaker) and Patricia
These three decided to put their $3 together and grow trees!  They collected seeds off the ground from two popular indigenous trees and bought black plant bags with their $3. They have successfully grown and bagged 700 trees and will be selling them to a local nursery once they are the right size.  They are nursing a further 4000 seedlings, which will also need to be bagged.  It has been lovely to see their passion and drive for this and they will make a huge return on this once they sell the trees.
Ntombi’s mum
Ntombi’s mum bought nik-nacks (cheesey crisps) with the $1, but unfortunately the municipal police confiscated the crisps and she made a loss.  She is now investigating selling peanut butter.  Sean encouraged her to consider selling peanuts as it is less time consuming to produce and she will not need to buy bottles to package the peanut butter in, just small bags.  Sean felt that this would make a bigger profit compared to selling nik-naks and we wish her every success!
Ruvimbo’s mum.
Ruvimbo's mum bought Maputi with her $1 and has continued to sell and buy with the profits.  Maputi is popped maize rather than popped corn – they are much bigger pieces than pop corn and are very common as a snack in Zimbabwe.
Clive’s mum
With the $1 Clive’s mum bought freezits (which are frozen little packets with squash in that you sell for kids to drink).  This was very lucrative before winter came and sales have dropped during this cold weather.  Sean has encouraged her to identify another product for her to sell during winter.
Well done to all our parents who took part!  We look forward to our next feedback meeting!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A Lot to Celebrate!

There is a lot to catch up on and a lot to celebrate!!!  I finished writing this post in April and it is now nearly the beginning of June!  Eeeek sorry everyone - so when reading this - keep this in mind!!

Wow – we finished last year with an amazing Prize Giving which was such a lovely opportunity to celebrate our out going Upper Sixth.  What a lovely afternoon filled with some incredible moments that will stay with us forever.  The 15 did a brilliant speech/song to say good bye and thank you and I am not sure there was a dry eye in the room by the end of it.  We were so proud of all of them – particularly Peter who could not speak English when he arrived and left by giving a speech!  Even our House Mother Mrs Banga gave a very heart warming speech!!  What a joy it was to celebrate these 15 with some of our local sponsors, headmasters, mentors and volunteers present.

We also ended the term with a great Christmas party, where each student received a gift and we played some silly games and had a fabulous BBQ which Mrs Banga and Patricia put together!  Opening presents was the highlight for so many of them, especially as for many of them it would be the only present over the Christmas period. 

Our hearts were sad as we bid farewell to our pioneer group but we are also excited at what the future holds for them.  They will forever hold such special places in our hearts!!

The holiday season was upon us but it was go go go!!!  We received 400 applicants and then proceeded to test 80 and had to whittle our way down to 8 to start in January at our 3 partner schools.  What a tough, heart wrenching process this was.  Mark worked incredibly hard and did numerous testing, interview days with these students.  Our aim was to have them choosen before Christmas and we had managed to get down to our final 10 – 2 we would need to drop!!!  I had the privilege of doing the home visits with Mrs Banga and Mike our driver.  We left Harare at 6am on the Saturday morning and only returned after 7pm that day.  We visited 10 families in 5 different townships.  What an honour to be in their homes – we did not tell the students that they had definatly got a scholarship when we visited, as 2 of them we would need to heart breakingly drop.  It so struck me this day - these are the forgotten heros of this country – people who are struggling to put food on the table, who struggle to pay each month for the one room that their family lives in, families forced to make a plan in such unbelieveable circumstances.  Some homes we left incredibly humbled and overwhelmed at all that they were facing and had overcome.  What inspirations!!!!  One family in particular stood out that day – a child headed home – mum died and father left the family and the older brother has looked after his 5 siblings (the one we were offering a scholarship to being the last born).  For the older brother, his youngest brother being accepted onto the scholarship programme means he can now get married, as he was never in a position to pay the brideprice for his girlfriend and will be able to now!  Mrs Banga and I sat in their home with tears falling down our faces, we told them how proud we were of them and all they have faced and still face.  What a close incredible family and since this young man is in our house now and we have got to know him better, what a great young man!!!  The brother told us that this process had given their whole family hope and he was thankful to us even just for the process even if his brother did not get the scholarship.  Humbling!!!  We could tell numerous stories that will blow your minds but all are deserving and all make us proud.  The plight of many Zimbabweans so often weighs heavy on my heart and I wish we could do so much more!

We had a week to get uniforms sorted and the new 8 settled into their new schools.  As always this settling process is hard.  It is such a huge cultural adjustment for the students on a social level, as well as educational – so is exhausting and testing for them.  They have all been amazing and it has really helped to have our Upper Sixth students around for moral support at the 3 schools.  We have also loved having all our students fit into the boarding house and Mrs Banga has begun to feel like she is getting to know all the students better. 

It has been an extremely busy term for all 16 students, juggling school work and co-curricular stuff.  It is wonderful to see the students immerse themselves in sports and clubs in the schools they attend and really excel at some of these things.  I have also seen them really push themselves beyong what is comfortable to broaden their views, experiences etc.  They have all made us proud this term.  Mark attended a few parents evenings for the Upper Sixth students and they are doing so well!!!  The staff all speak so highly of them.

We were thrilled with the A-level results our pioneer 15 students achieved.  They obtained 24 A*, 12 A, 7 B, 4 C and 1 D.  we feel these results reflect the incredible hard work they put into their work over the two years.  Ryan and Destiny have been offered full scholarships to study in the States and we are so pleased at this amazing opportunity - thank you Mrs Mano for making this a reality for them.  Mercia is working for an investment company who are paying for her degree while she works.  All the other students are applying for scholarships and we will find out shortly what the outcomes of these are.  The current Upper Sixth also achieved such good results for their AS-level examinations.  They are all working so hard towards their end of year exams this year.

We had a wonderful Saturday trip to Mukuvusi Woodlands, a little game park situated in Harare.  This was a first for all our students to experience the bush and wild life like this and they did a 2hr game walk which they all thoroughly loved.  We had invited our pioneer 15 to join us too and it was a great reunion for all.  Sadly a few of our current students had sporting fixtures so it was not all of us who attended.  Matt, Zoe and Ella came a long too and by the end of the morning had all fallen into the pond and were filthy but had had a ball!!!!

We have always know that English is a big priority for us to work on outside of their school work and so this year we have put a few more official English things in place to assist the students with improving oral, written and reading English.  We have two wonderful volunteers who are helping us amazingly in this area.  Charlotte is running Friday lessons every Friday afternoon, some are compulsory and some are optional.  She has been absolutely brilliant, focusing on current afairs, as well as body language, interview technics etc.  We also have Rebecca, who is running intense SAT preparation English lessons during these April school holidays for 10 days.  We know the students will benefit from this hugely.  We have already seen some fruit from this as Lisa came 4th in a Black History Month Essay Competion.  We were so proud of her and she got to attend a prize giving at the US ambassadors house with Mark and Mrs Banga. 

Sarah is a wonderful volunteer who spends each Wednesday evening at the boarding house working with the Biology Students.  We are so grateful for her time too!

This year has seen a new sponsor come on board!  It is MultiChoice Zimbabwe (a bit like Sky TV in England).  The sponsor some students as well as donate groceries every month to the boarding house.  We can not tell you what a difference these groceries have made to our monthly shopping bill.  The thing I love about their sponsorship is that they have such personal contact with the project and have built relationships!  They even pop the odd box of chocolates in for the students!  Thank you Multichoice.  We hope to add to our local sponsors over this coming year.
We have also had two sets of individuals raise money for Makomborero over the last few months.  Chris Bloodworth Kayaked in Bahrain for 6 days for Makomborero.  Chris you are a beast!!  Thank you, thank you!!!  Read more here http://www.gulfweeklyworldwide.com/Articles.aspx?articleid=30222 

A couple from New Zealand who live in the UK, have cycled for Makomborero!  Thank you Bruce and Katie - we don't even know you guys!!  Read more about them here - http://www.eastbourne-college.co.uk/Charity-bike-ride - we so look forward to having them in Zim in August. 
I have continued to lead bible studies on a Thursday evening and as always love the insight I have got into the students lives.  Sean (a pastor from our church) has lead every 3rd week and the students have thoroughly enjoyed their time with him and the different way he runs the evening.  It has been great to share this with him.  The students also have the opportunity to go to church on a Sunday evening, a volunteer drives our minibus each Sunday evening. 
We have also continued with games evenings once a month with Sian, who continues to lead these so amazingly!!!

We had the opportunity to share with our church this term what Makomborero Zimbabwe does and we had a few of our pioneer students sharing - what a lovely response to this and some great volunteers too!

We will find out about University applications and scholarships over the next month and will feedback where each of our pioneering students will go.  We are trusting for scholarships for all of them and are helping with applications where we can.  We wish we were in a position to give financial assistance to this too.  We do have 3 University of Zimbabwe scholarships to give, these have been so generously donated by a family in the UK.  They know who they are!

Well as you can tell life has been crazy but this year has been so much better than last.  Mark was so incredible juggling two full time jobs – I often think back and wonder how he physically did it.  Christmas holidays were so incredibly busy with scholarship testing that we only took 5 days off to go away to the mountains for Christmas.  Mark has been exhausted this term and I’m sure it is due to the fact that his body is so tired from last year. 
I am really proud of him too as he has been made Deputy Head of the school he teaches at and this is a position he so deserves.  It has been a learning curve like any new job and keeps him very busy but he is doing so well as he learns the ropes.  He is loving his job, though he does miss time in the classroom a little now.  He is down to a 60% teaching timetable.  So Mark actual role in Makomborero has really reduced this term and he can take on more of a support type role.

Just before Christmas we went to my Aunt’s 60th Party in South Africa.  We spent more days in the car than we did at the party but it was such a wonderful time catching up with family and spending time together.  I don’t think we will ever drive to SA at that time of year.  The boarder crossings were horrific – 10 hrs waiting in boiling hot sun!!! But the reunion with family was very special and it is the first time in years that all my siblings and my folks were together!!!
The West Granchildren!

Me and my cousin!

We had a wonderful 5 days escape to Chimanimani – so so wonderful to get away from Harare and to a part of the country where not a lot happens!!!  Unfortunatly I had terrible flu over that time and so did Ella but it meant we did very little and charged our batteries a little and enjoyed special time as a family - celebrating our Saviours Birth.

We celebrated Ella turning 1 at the beginning of January.  What a joy and a delight she is to us!  Her name means 'Shining Light' and that is so what she is!!!  What a special addition to our family.  We love you Ella - your giggles, toddling around, chit chat and super big cuddles!

We also celebrate another little persons birthday in January - Matthew.  Wow 5 years of being parents and he is a huge blessing too!!!  A very deep thinker who keeps us on our toes with all his questions about life etc.  This was our first none Thomas party and we were pleased to be able to have a Cars themed party!  Matthew - thank you for all that you add to our lives - your big heart for people, the poor, Jesus and your family!  We love you special boy!!!!  You make us very proud!!

We feel like we are slowly beginning to establish friendships and slowly find our feet in church.  It has taken forever but we continue to trust God in this area!

We have noticed such a difference this term with fitting family time in and are enjoying the Saturdays together and Friday evenings!  Towards the end of the term Mark worked a few full weekends but even so it makes for a more normal life and we feel like we can have a bit more of a social life again.

We have had a terrible run of illness and particularly poor Zoe who has had tonsillitis every 2 weeks since July – lots of antibios and a very sick little girl with temps at 40'C for a few days before antibio kicks in every 2 weeks.  We took the decision to remove her tonsils a few weeks ago and are thrilled we have done this.  She was so brave and was very sore for a week.  Sadly all the antibios have masked the fact that she had knocked her root canel out of her front tooth which she broke off in a fall when she was 1.  Since the operation she has had a few abcesses and had another root canel and is about to undergo her fourth on the same tooth this Tuesday!  She blows us away with her bravery, as has had the last two root cancels done with no pain killers and just puts her hand up when she needs a break!  We have a lovely dentist who is a bit puzzled by her tooth!  Trusting this will be the last of the tooth saga until it falls out!

Matt also under went an operation in December for a hernia to be fixed in his groin – he too was very brave and we were so impressed with his surgeon and the care Matt received.  Matthew was a very gentle, quiet patient!!  What a pleasure!
The kids generally have been really unwell, as have I and this has taken strain on us but I think we are entering a season of being well again!!!

We are so excited we will be in the UK for the month of August.  Lots to happen before then but we can’t wait to catch up with friends and family!!!  We don’t know how we will fit everything in but we will try our best!!!  A few dates to put in your diaries and let us know if you can come!!

·         Sunday 11th August – a picnic catch up in Sidcup with our church family and friends in that area

·         Tuesday 13th August – evening up in London – venue to be confirmed – to meet up with friends and past students of Mark’s

·         Friday 23rd August – drinks from 7pm at our place we will be staying at Benenden School – open to anyone but will probably be mainly benenden staff and friends who live in the area.

So if any of these dates catch your eye – we would love to see you there.  Pop us an email and we can fill you in on details closer to the time!!

The kids are very settled into the new school year.  Matt and Zoe are now at the same school and they are thrilled about this and so love playing together when they get a chance.  They had an Easter concert at the end of term and they both so loved taking part.  Zoe was the loudest singer out of 90 kids and I was laughing so much the tears were rolling down my face!  Too sweet!  Matt has his assessment for school  this next term and we find out what school he has been accepted into for Year 1.  Eeek – we trust God on this one!  Here is a picture of them as chicks at their Easter Concert! 

It is holidays at the moment (2nd term starts tomorrow) but Mark been working very hard on work and a few other bits.  We had a few days off camping in the mountains with 8 other families and had a total of 19 children – it was crazy but such good fun and the kids all had a ball!!!  Sadly Ella got badly burnt by a cup of tea on the first night – not fun dealing with these things in the middle of no where and in the dark with no electricity but God was amazing as we were surrounded by people who had everything you could possibly need to treat burns!  So thankfully we could sit tight and not travel a few hours to the nearest hospital – we had special burn dressings which we dressed her with twice a day and we were amazed at how fast she healed.  I realise if we had been in the UK she would have been hospitalised.  So needless to say my first aid kit is now fully kitted out for burns.  Amazing what you need in Africa when you go camping!!!  Other than that the campsite was idilic and we took the whole campsite over – beautiful views over Mozambique and torrential rain one night!  Kids are so happy when they are in the middle of no where!!!  My heart is always full when I camp!!!

Mark’s folks also visited from South Africa for a few days and it is always good to have them stay and for the kids to reconnect with them!! 

Amongst all the craziness of life we decided to sell our flat in Harare which we bought when we lived in the UK and through a number of sources have got a mortgage and have bought a house!  We feel so incredibly blessed and our mortgage repayments are just more than our rent!!  Our flat also appreciated in value incredibly in the 7 years we owned it!!!  We also sold our flat in 2 days – no joke!!!!  So we move in September and are soooooo thrilled and our new house has water!!!!!!!!  We have never lived in something we have owned so we can’t wait!!  We had to make a crazy 2 day trip to South Africa to sign papers for the house and my folks so wonderfully looked after the kids – we drove 1700km in two days – did shopping and camped one night at a hot springs and spent only 5 hours crossing the borders!!!

I love having the kids around and enjoy the more lazy starts in the mornings during holiday time.  Ella is growing up so much and is a real little person who talks, walks and chatters away.  She is a climber – so keeps me on my toes!!!  She learnt to climb into the tree house before she could walk – so I knew back then my work was cut out for me!!  She is an incredibly cuddly little girl and I relish every cuddle with her.  I find juggling work and the kids a challenge at times but have decided to avoid the stress of both I work at night only now and do the odd thing during the day if I have to!

It is my favourite time of year entering winter and the days are just gloriously sunny and warm (not hot) and the nights are chilly!!!  May and August have to be the best months of the year in this country in my opinion!!!

So until next time – which should be sooner I bid you all farewell!!!

A few extra photos!
A proud mummy at Zoe's end of year concert!  2012
Zoe as a ladybird at her school concert.

Craft time in the Albertyn house!

Night away with friends!

My five children!
Another Dombo trip!  We never get tired of the place!

Matt's dolly which he has kindly given Ella!
Pirate Party! 

My birthday!
The best wrapping paper

Enjoying the rewards of an Easter Egg hunt!

Fixing the car with Daddy


Monday, 15 October 2012

Wow - we did it!!!

We are nearing the end of our Upper Sixth's time with us and we can't believe God's faithfulness to us! 

This is my favourite time of year!!!  Spring is in the air – it is still very dry and getting hot as the rains are only due in November but the trees are blossoming and the most beautiful to me – the Jacarandas – they still fill me with such awe at their beauty and I love finding streets that take my breath away!!!  I am thankful for living in Harare and not the rural areas where we were this time 2 years ago as the heat was unbearable!!!  I have got my veggie garden beds ready in anticipation for the rains and wait to plant my seeds!!!  Our garden is brown and very dry and blowing red mud everywhere!  I long for the rains to water our red mud and to see grass come to life again!  I anticipate the smell of the rain too – oh the joys of Zimbabwean rain!!!  Until then – we wait and enjoy the flowering trees! (since I wrote this we have had a glorious thunder storm)

We ended the term and then began to prepare for the Revision Schools – we had arranged to run revision classes at 3 township schools.  The month of August was a busy month.  Phew!!!  We had boxes of stationary and textbooks for each school.  A box of calculators to loan for the lessons and various other resources.  We would load the cars up the night before and head out early in the morning.  The revision schools were a huge success if you look at is positively.  Unfortunatly there were a few glitches along the way which were just purely frustrations that kind of limited us a little and were not what we were expecting but having lived back here long enough and this being our 4th year of revision schools we went with the punches!!!  We really felt we were able to bless a couple of hundred students and was lovely to hear their appreciation.  Our 23 students all served over this time giving of their time to help other students.  It is always special to see them giving back – especially if it was in their former schools!  I took our 3 kids out to each school to visit for a few hours and to feel a little bit apart of what was happening.  They also love to be included and spend time with our students.  Matthew blew me away at his depth of understanding – ‘Mummy our students are blessing people too because they have been blessed’ – this needless to say reduced me to tears and I realised he too had got it!!!!  Thank you Lord!  Driving into the high density areas is always a good teaching opportunity for our children – seeing the little homes that up to 5 families live in, kids playing in the streets etc.  Always ample things to speak into and help them have compassion and passion for what we are trying to do!!

We welcomed a wonderful lady from the UK – Denise!  She is a retired Maths teacher and came out specifically to help at our revision schools and to teach the Upper Sixth Further maths.  What a blessing she was to us – she taught tirelessly and gave 200% of her time.  She kept telling us that she had come to serve and that is exactly what she did.  She came with resources and sat up late each night with Mark preparing.  Here heart was incredible and we so enjoyed having her in our home.  She was also so incredibly adaptable with the unpredicatableness of Africa sometimes!!!  Thank you Denise!!!

Hope and one or two volunteers have visited 50 township schools distributing application forms for places for next year.  We will then collect the forms mid October and start the hard testing process in November.  It is the 3rd year now we are doing this exercise and Mark has been a little sad not to have been so hands on in the distribution process but will obviously be very involved in the selection process.  What a big responsibility!!!  Well done Hope for all the school visits!!  If you visit our charity website www.makomborero.info you can find our application form and brochure.

The term has felt incredibly busy as the students all prepare for their final exams and Mark works madly to get his Hellenic and Makomborero Zimbabwe students ready!!  I have felt quite emotional the last two weeks as they write their first exam on Wednesday 10th October!!  We have all 23 of our students writing this Maths exam and Mark has 30 Hellenic students he teaches – so a total of 53 students writing this exam that he personally teaches – eek!!!  Needless to say he is a little nervous too.  I find myself on the verge of tears as I look back and see how far we have come to get the students to this point – proud of Mark, proud of the students, proud of our house mum, administrator etc – we had nothing to start with and God has been so incredibly faithful!!  It has felt like a marathon at times but we have done it!!!  I am also sad as I know we have to let these guys go too!  So tearful I entrust them to God – knowing that our season of feeding into their lives are nearly over and we have to let them fly!  We are working on University applications at the moment and slowly getting scholarships trickling through!

A former student of Mark’s from Benenden visited us again!  She came out at the infancy stage of the project when we had just moved into Harare from the rural areas.  It was wonderful to welcome her into our home again – our children love her and she them!!!  We were able share our lives with her!  She helped with the distribution of application forms, visited an orphanage a few times, interviewed our students, did a fun Greek lesson with the students and they taught her a little shona, took part in Bible Study, invigilated exams, shopped at the market etc!  We think she had a great time and appreciate her visit and heart for the work we do!

This term has been quiet in the sense of co-curricular stuff due to the students studying but our Lower Sixth have been very busy still at their schools.  Lisa took part in the combined schools choir – which was a wonderful evening.  I have enjoyed my bible study evenings with them and love the beautiful singing that takes place in the boarding house – such wonderful harmonies!!! 

The Upper Sixth Students had the opportunity to visit Kutsaga.  This was an amazing opportunity for them to see a lot of the theory they have learnt in Chemistry put into practice.  Mr Muchoko their Chemistry teacher took them. 

Our Lower Sixth have been paired up with a Global Citizenship Course in Finland.  This has been a great opportunity for them to learn about another culture and share about their own.  Mark and I hosted a Finnish evening at our house and cooked Finnish food and had some special goodies for them to taste - one of our Makomborero Trustees is out from the UK and they were brought with them!!!  It is great to have Nicky here to see what we actually do!!!

So we enter the exam season and have had the privilege of going to all three schools Prize Givings that our 8 Lower Sixth Students attend.  So proud of all their achievements!!  We will hold our own Prize Giving ceremony once the exams are over to celebrate our Upper Sixths achievements and have a good send off for them!!  We also hope to do a big group trip to Mukuvusi (a local game park) with all the students before the end of the year and of course the all important Christmas Party!!!

Family News
Matt's sports day was at the end of the 2nd term - what a fun day it was.  We were very proud parents!

Mark worked crazily all holidays and we did not get a break but I took the kids away for 3 nights to a little dam just outside town – we had a fun few days together. Though the night before I left we had another burglary – we saw them this time and it wasn’t a very pleasant experience – thankfully we were all ok – but this totally threw me and I then proceeded to leave most of the essentials for Ella at home – thankfully I packed nappies!!! We missed Mark but enjoyed quality time together just the 4 of us and Mark joined us for the last night!!
Mark's folks came to visit for 2 weeks - it was very special to have them around.  They are always so generous to us and we love the time we have with them but especially seeing our kids bond with them!!!
Our 3 kids are all doing so well and growing up way too fast.  Ella is 9 months and nearly crawling!  She is a delight to all of us and so wonderful to see how Matt and Zoe play with her.  Her name means 'Shining Light' and we often hear Zoe and Matthew telling her that and reminding her that that is what she is to us!  So precious!! 

We celebrated Zoe’s 3rd Birthday in August – which was a Sleeping Beauty party and thanks to Debs (who sent out a Sleeping Beauty dress up outfit) we had a wonderful day!  She is such a girly girl and I love my mornings with her when Matt at school.  She has a wonderful imagination and is incredibly caring but also has a very, very strong character!!!  Just can’t believe she is 3! 

Poor Matthew has a big hernia in his groin and will need to have surgery on it – sadly not a day surgery op and will have to be in over night!  He is being very brave about the whole thing and sometime I think he has more of an adults brain than I do! 

Both Matt and Zoe are back at swimming lessons – we can’t wait till they are confidently swimming – so sweet to see them improve and gain confidence each week!!  I’m often sitting on the side of the pool in the mid day heat wishing I could jump in with them!!!

We took the opportunity while Grace was here to enjoy time out of Harare at Paradise Pools.  We went with a few other families and had such a lovely day.  It was very hot and no shade - but wonderful to have the pools to cool down in!  Grace enjoyed the outing too!

It has taken our precious little boy to kick us up the butt to learn Shona!  Matthew declared the other day in the car that he was embarrassed to live in Zimbabwe and not know how to speak Shona and that we need to learn it!!  (Something Mark and I have often said but done nothing about).  So the wonderful lady who has recently come to clean our house 2 days a week is teaching us - after Matt asked her to help us!!  She is a huge blessing in our lives in so so many ways - not only the way she is like a fairy in our home and makes everything sparkly and shiny but how she has become a good friend.  So when she is around the kids learn a few more words and so does their mummy!!!  Thank you Sekai!!!!  She is an inspiration with the obsticals she has overcome.  We are also the first job she has ever had - she is an orphan, who is married with two precious boys and her husband and her have struggled for years to make ends meet as neither have had a proper job in their lives.  She is an incredible entripenour who has managed to provide for her family against incredible odds.  I am blessed by having her in our home and inspired by the way she has fought for her family.  She is beautiful, inside and out!!  She is so lovely that she now is working for 3 different people over 5 days on my recommendation - able to support her family better!!!

Amazingly water has been flowing through our pipes – be it every now and then and only a very little trickle at night but this means we are not asking for as much water from our next door neighbour.  I do wonder when the under ground water supply below Harare will run out as so many people no rely on it as their only source of water.  You hear of boreholes drying up all the time now!!  Also we have just had an incredible week of power – no power cuts for a week – normally have no power every day!  Sadly the boarding house has not been so lucky!!

A very close friend from South Africa who I had not seen for 3 years visited for a day last week – what a treat!!!  A day that will stay with me for a long time – shed tears together, laughed, talked, did kiddies together – God is good when He brings special people into our lives!!

Mark is weary and I am so blown away by his capacity this year.  I honestly do not know how he has done this year – God’s grace boy!!!  He is exhausted and looks it too – so trusting there will be some time out over Christmas even with all the recruiting for the new students next year!!!  We are thankful this hard year is nearly over and look forward to next year with half the work load for Mark and adjusting to being able to spend time together as a family!!!  And hopefully build some special friendships.  Mark I am so very very proud of you!

We still miss England and our friends terribly!!  Friendships are the hardest part about moving – leaving friends and making new ones!!  There are a few luxuries I miss most of all – humus, being able to do all your grocery shopping under one roof and not drive all over town getting this here and that there, cheese, chocolate, NHS, fresh pasta, goat’s cheese, fruit pots, cream cheese – I could go on.  But just over 2 years here I can say we are slowly beginning to feel like this is home!

Thanks to all of you for the continued love and support!!  We could not have done these past two years without you!!!! And God of course!!

A few more photos:
The kids love Rosie our dog!

This is the way the lady rides - with three on my lap!

 This is what a pile of building sand is for!
 Cuddles with my best friend!

 Enjoying cuddles with Granny Alison

There were four on Matthew's bed for story time

Oh mum please can we go in Ella's cot!
Ella at 8 1/2 months
Fun in the paddling pool together!