Saturday 6th May 2017 marked more than just the official opening and hand over of the Mambanje teachers house to the community. It signified the power of what true partnerships can achieve and that it takes not only generosity but truly believing in people, understanding their needs and creating opportunities for a community to come together, working side by side to achieve their dreams.
Years of planning and hard work was celebrated by everyone at Mambanje on this day. Local community leadership, the local headman, local business partners, teachers, parents, students, partner organizations and African Bush Camps Foundation Board Members were present to officially open and hand over the teachers house.
Martin and Hilary Winter from the Jane Bubear Sports Foundation were also present. Over many years they have become an integral partner with the community, providing support through regular visits and connecting the community to organizations who are equally passionate in supporting education and grassroots community development. Following the 9th annual Dete 10k Fun Run, Martin officially handed over the Library to the community as part of official opening celebration of the teachers house. Martin and Hilary were instrumental in securing a grant for the Library and Computer Lab for the school.
The Mambanje Teachers House is a pivotal point in the development of the community, providing a functional and beautiful house which allows the school to secure qualified long term teaching staff. This is a huge challenge faced by many remote schools, however most of all it’s a beacon of pride and hope. The community have built the house with their own hands with the generous donation of the Klein Family Foundation who provided the grant.
The Klein Family Foundation further invested in the community by purchasing a Hydraform brick making machine for the building of the house. This will allow the community to continue with further building projects as well as using it as a long term sustainable income generating tool for the school and community. The community participated in the building of the house which commenced in July 2016 with Food for Work schemes assisting through a season of harsh drought, equipping many members of the community with building and constructions skills.
When the African Bush Camps Foundation began working with the Mambanje community in 2012, the needs of the school and community seemed overwhelming with no electricity at the school or community, no running water, classrooms without doors and very little furniture. The last 7km of road to Mambanje took 1 hour to negotiate with a 4×4 vehicle, a drive that today takes just 15 minute. There was very little in the way of teaching resources and the teachers who did make the 15km walk from the nearest village of Dete were accommodated into a 2 roomed cottage and school attendance by the children was poor, at best.
Today the school is virtually unrecognizable (from 2012). There is a vegetable garden, feeding program, solar power, running water, new desks, E-learning on laptops, brightly painted school buildings, a chicken project and fowl run, AND the newly built teachers house. This means that qualified long term teachers will invest in the school and become part of the framework of change. Something we have already seen with Rebecca, the headmistress who has been at the school for over a year now, buying into the concept and promise of the new teachers house.
The day also marked the official hand over of the solar power system and borehole which were donated collectively by the Rotary Club of Sorrento, Victoria, Australia with the local partner, the Rotary Club of Victoria Falls and Elefence International.
The teachers house marks the beginning of new possibilities. The building opportunities the Hydraform brick making machine presents and the Klein Family Foundation paving the way for other like minded organizations to further their support for the growth of the community.
The atmosphere of celebration was also one of anticipation. The community has discovered the power they have to create change, build partnerships and we are excited and honored to continue working with them to further transform the lives and those of the future generations of the Mambanje Community.