Together We Are Changing Lives for the Better – Lesedi Primary School
Guest blog post by Fiona Thompson, Director of Ngoko Safaris
PVF hosts a designated fund for Generosity in Action, a conduit for U.S. travelers to make tax deductible donations that support international projects, such as the Lesedi Primary School. The school was founded based on the efforts of a single safari guide, Benson Siyawareva, and the generosity of travelers to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Fiona Thompson is the director of Ngoko Safaris, and she partners with Benson to support Lesedi Primary School. The following is an excerpt from her report.
It is a privilege to witness firsthand the steady transformation of Lesedi Primary School from its humble beginnings.
The school is thriving. Our sponsorship program is proving successful with 65 children already sponsored and a further 21 awaiting sponsorship. We have established a welfare fund to cover the cost of school fees during the period between a child being identified as needing sponsorship and a sponsor being found, so that they aren’t excluded from school. The introduction of the sponsorship program is already having a huge impact on the children we are helping. Most will have expected their education to be very limited and now find they have an unexpected opportunity to learn and potentially lead a different life than the subsistence lifestyle and grinding poverty of their parents. I was touched to hear the sponsor children proudly refer to sponsors as their special friends.
During my last trip I supplied some basic sports equipment to the school and spent a few days with Benson creating a table tennis table from scrap metal and making netball posts. More recently guests donated a volleyball net. I was really thrilled to see that the children are using all this equipment regularly. Netball, football (soccer), volleyball, badminton and table tennis are played regularly, with children pleading for racquets and balls after school. From next year the school plans to enter teams into inter-school competitions. We were blown away by the energy, enthusiasm and competitiveness of the sports teams and their cheering supporters. These children are unrecognizable from the ones who started at Lesedi just a few short years ago.
A generous donation at the start of the Lesedi Project enabled us to connect the fledgling school to the mains water supply. As the school has grown, the water requirements have steadily increased. With 189 pupils plus teachers and support staff, a large amount of water is used each day for drinking, cooking, washing and ablutions. In addition, water is also needed for our various construction projects. The water supply has always been erratic, but the installation of two water tanks at Lesedi has minimized any problems.
Unfortunately, the situation has worsened considerably during the past couple of months. The supply is now either non-existent or just a trickle from the tap. The water crisis means that all construction at Lesedi has been suspended.
I will end by reiterating that despite the difficulties, Lesedi is continuing its remarkable development thanks to the generosity of our supporters, the commitment of our teachers, and of course Benson’s tireless hard work and dedication. Many of our pupils face considerable challenges and have had a tough start in life, however they are thriving in this new environment. It amused us to see that the children hang around school for as long as possible at the end of each school day. Eventually the teachers insist on them going home!
Thank you for being part of the Lesedi family and for making this extraordinary school (and future clinic) possible. Together we are changing lives for the better. Not so long ago I thought we were making a difference by providing an education. Now I realize that the impact is much greater and that Lesedi provides so much more. It is truly remarkable to be a small part of this.