A fundamental part of the ICS journey is Action at Home – taking the community development values we experienced overseas and applying them to projects of our own interest. For my team, cycle 3 of the Rowa Runners, there was one matter close to all our hearts and that was the ‘special project’ we had gotten involved in alongside our other development work in rural Zimbabwe.

 This project had been started by the previous cycle when they met with the teacher of the surrounding area’s only infant school (or ECEC – Early Childhood Education and Care). The wonderful Mrs Kambarami singlehandedly teaches to up to 48 students, but her abilities to provide her pupils with essential primary education were being chocked by their tiny school building, only 2by3meters. That’s the size of a garden shed. It was decided that these children needed a larger school if they were to have space enough to learn!

It took the combined effort of cycle 2 and 3 to get permission to build a new school. The construction is to be a community effort, with the local people of Rowa providing much of the manual work and materials as well as ensuring the ongoing maintenance of the building. Though the bricks have been prepared and the foundations laid, money for remaining materials is short. We may have been back in the UK now, but we couldn’t leave behind our love for the school and the people of Rowa. So we decided to dedicate our Action at Home to holding a fundraising event for the school.

We had big plans, a party, live music, a raffle, Zimbabwean food...and very limited time to organise! I’ll skip the lengthy details of the various headaches involved with securing a venue and raffle prizes (big shout out to Grace, Ela, and Shira for their hard work in this!) and get straight to the details. The event was held in London at the Queen of Hoxton, a fantastic bar/club not far from Liverpool St Station. The team arrived early to dec the room out with our various Zimbabwean souvenirs and to set up sound/video tech. The event went underway with acoustic guitar covers by Ben Bushell as people wandered in. We were placed in the lower ground room, with a ukulele competition and an outdoor cinema going on in the rooms above! The turnout was good (especially for a bank holiday Monday evening), and we had fantastic support from friends and family of our team and volunteers from previous Rowa Runners cycles. Shira and Pete were our fabulous hosts for the night and they gave an introduction to our Space Enough To Learn project and to Mrs Kambarami and her pupils. The night rolled on and we had some fantastic singing by past volunteer Janel, she even sang in Shona (the main language in Zimbabwe). As well as an entry fee we were raising money through selling raffle tickets and collecting donations in exchange for Krispy Kreme donuts, and as promised we were handing out free plates of the Zimbabwean staple food sadza (think of it as if mash potato and well-cooked rice had a baby) which was lovingly prepared by team member James. The raffle itself had some awesome prizes, including a £50 voucher generously donated from ExperienceDays, go karting vouchers from TeamSport, and a free stay in the 5star Suenos Guesthouse with added money off vouchers for Coast Café  – a massive thank you to everyone who donated a prize to us! The evening was rounded off perfectly by some top notch music from Lewis Bootle (catch him at Glastonbury if you can). And after detangling the carefully arranged Zimbabwean material drapes and scraping up left over sadza, that was that!

All the money from the night has now been put up on our GoFundMe page which has a grand total of £932! This fantastic amount has been a group effort and couldn’t have happened without the help and goodwill of a lot of people. The money will soon be going to Progressio, the international development charity we worked for in Zimbabwe, and will be used to fund the more expensive building materials such as the roofing and cement. The school will be a sustainable community project that will reach further than just providing an improved learning environment for Mrs K’s pupils – the space will also become a community  hall and be used as a meeting place for the young people in Rowa involved in the IGA projects (income generating activities) run by Progression’s Zimbabwean partner Simukai.

Thank you to everyone who helped us complete our Action at Home, and to donate to Space Enough To Learn follow the link to our GoFundMe!

UK volunteers who set up an event to build a school in Zimbabwe