Lesedi Update: 10 years of learning, expansion and progress

 In Designated Fund, grassroots, guest post, non-profit, philanthropy, PVF News

Guest blog post by Fiona Thompson, Director of Ngoko Safaris

PVF holds a designated fund for the Lesedi Schools & Clinic. The project was the brainchild of a Zimbabwean safari guide, Benson Siyawareva, who has worked tirelessly on Lesedi since starting the project with a pre-school in 2014. He is supported from the UK by Fiona & Graeme Thompson, who run a child sponsorship program at the schools and handle fundraising and financing through a UK-registered charity, Ngoko Charitable Trust. Lesedi is totally reliant on private donations and the achievements to date have only been possible thanks to the unwavering generosity of our supporters, many of whom have visited Lesedi. The following is an excerpt from their most recent report.

I have never smiled so much in my life. At the end of an intense two weeks of finances, problem solving, planning and meetings at Lesedi, we stood on the stage in the incredible school hall watching all 450 children and staff singing and dancing away. Three hours of joyous prize giving, birthday and 10-year anniversary celebrations followed.

Benson sat with the Grade 6s on a little chair watching proceedings like a proud dad. As the prizes were read out, best in grade 3, most improved in grade 6, best netball player, best in science… the winners rushed to the stage, to whoops and cheers from the crowd. With huge grins, many were mobbed by their friends or picked up and carried by a proud elder brother to receive a beautifully wrapped prize.


The monetary cost of the prizes was small. But the sense of achievement, recognition, success and pride for these kids was priceless.


This is why we do Lesedi. In a world full of bad news, in one of the most beautiful but impoverished countries on earth, in a community surviving day-to-day with poverty, social upheavals and drought – to have the opportunity to provide light and hope and the possibility of making a life changing difference to all these kids and their families is humbling.

We are extremely proud to announce that the Lesedi project is now 10 years old! Our pioneer learners started in the little concrete and metal pre-school shack in January 2014. Many of these students are still with us and will be starting Form 3 next year. As part of our celebrations, some of the original kids plus their teacher Ms Mpofu returned to their original classroom and even sang the alphabet song we used to hear them chanting.

Who would have thought that in just 10 years, this simple shack would have ballooned into a $1.5m primary, secondary and clinic campus with facilities surpassing most rural schools in Zimbabwe? Back in 2014, I think we would all have laughed at the very idea!

The constant pressure of Lesedi means that we rarely take time to reflect on what has been achieved. We are so focused on worrying about what is needed next – another classroom block to be funded and built, more teachers needed, $20k per month to be raised for salaries and food, 60 more sponsors to find. . .  It feels like a runaway train with us laying the track down just before the train goes over.


It is only when we give a tour of Lesedi to visitors that the enormity of our accomplishments sinks in, as we see the campus through fresh eyes. It really is remarkable what we have all achieved together.

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