In 2013, the co-founder of Ngoko
Safaris, Benson Siyawareva, became involved with the Ntabayengwe community
near Victoria Falls and realized that many of the local children were
dropping out of school, due to the long distances they needed to walk
each day and the danger of wild animal attacks en-route. He decided to
try and make a difference.
Benson began working with the community on an ambitious plan to establish
a Primary School in the local area. The first small step was to build
a basic structure to offer classes to pre-school children. Ngoko Safaris
funded the first teacher, and the initial intake of kids, our "pioneer"
students enrolled in January 2014.
Lesedi Primary School
At the time of writing (mid-2018), Lesedi Primary School is teaching two
pre-school classes, plus Grades 1-4, to over 150 pupils. A registered
UK charity, the Ngoko Charitable Trust was established in 2015 to support
the development of the school.
Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, and considerable hard work
by Benson, the school now has three double classroom blocks and two smaller
classes for pre-school. We have also built two cottages to accommodate
teachers, a kitchen rondavel and ablution block.
Lesedi now has seven teachers in total, with only two on government payroll.
The salaries of the other five teachers are covered by the charity.
The school has been connected to mains water, with the community digging
a 3km trench for the supply pipe. Donations of laptops have enabled computer
lessons for all of the children and internet has recently been introduced.
A project is underway to connect the school to mains electricity.
Since the earliest days of Lesedi, it has been apparent that some families
are unable to pay the nominal school fees charged at Lesedi (US$102
per year, including 2 hot meals on each school day). To continue at
school, many of the children need financial support.
To address this issue, we decided to introduce a sponsorship scheme
for children requiring assistance. The project started in early 2018
and immediately started to make a difference. Many of the children have
had a very difficult start in life and without the sponsorship scheme
their education would be extremely limited, with most not able to complete
Primary education. Child sponsorship gives them a massive opportunity
to improve their circumstances in life.
Four years after the start of Lesedi, with the initial intake of pre-school
children, some of those pioneer pupils are now in Grade 4. The transformation
has been remarkable. The children at Lesedi are energetic, confident
and full of hope for the future. The exposure to foreign tourists visiting
the school is proving hugely beneficial to the Lesedi pupils, improving
their confidence, self-belief and ambitions.
However, encouraging the children to dream brings with it a huge responsibility.
We feel it would be irresponsible to only provide a primary school education,
given that the children would then either drop out of school or enrol
at a rural secondary school which is likely to have very few resources.
Assuming we can generate sufficient funding, the intention is to add
a Secondary School at Lesedi in due course.
There is a high incidence of HIV and AIDS in the community,
including some of the school children. The nearest public clinic is
28km from the village, and transport costs are unaffordable for most
people. We have just received approval to build a Medical Clinic
on land adjacent to Lesedi school and construction will start soon.
The Child Sponsorship program will continue to expand as more
children are identified as requiring sponsorship. There are still children
in the surrounding areas who are not attending school, particularly
girls whose education is traditionally viewed as less important given
they will eventually marry and leave the family. Our mission is to get
as many of these children back into school as possible.
We are continuing our discussions with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary
Education for approval to introduce Special Needs classes at
Lesedi. The Ministry has advised that Lesedi does not currently have
enough children to warrant a special needs class, although we are hoping
to reverse this decision.
You can make a donation to the Ngoko Village Project
via the internet. Click
Once at Generosity in Action Donate page click on the Ngoko Village
Project button. Note: there is a 3% transaction fee to cover credit
card fees, bank fees, and other processing costs.
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