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News and events

Ntombi Nto Takes Off in Gweru – by Joy Khumalo, National Director of Ntombi Nto

The tenacious head teacher of Chiwundura

When we are opening new sites, we have a stage which we call Familiarization where we are required to go and introduce ourselves to the various stakeholders that we will be working with. Usually, we introduce ourselves to the school head and tell them what we would like to do in their school and if they agree we then proceed to see the kraal head.  The very most important people we are supposed to ask permission to work in their village are the chiefs and to see the chief you have to first go to the kraal head.

Joy, Angie, Mr Zhou (the headteacher) and Sue

Well, when we arrived in Chiwundura, we went straight to the head master, Mr Zhou. We told him of our organization and what it does and that we wanted to work in his school. Mr Zhou was so excited he immediately asked if we could go to the kraal head. Of course, this was not in our plans for that day, as we were not expecting our news to be readily accepted…but we agreed to go with him and in we climbed to our vehicle and drove a few kms to the kraal head’s house. When we got there, she had gone to a funeral and the head master did not know the directions to the home where the funeral was. The young men who had travelled with me and I thought…oh well that’s the end of that…but not for the headmaster. He saw a young man walking on the side of the road and he called him…the young man came running as he was used to this booming voice since he was a former student. He was immediately ordered to climb into the vehicle and direct us to the home.

We soon found ourselves cutting through a field of short grass and, bumping towards where the young man was pointing, we came to a small stream. We thought, for sure this time our journey is done for…but the determined headmaster ordered us to find a safe crossing place. We followed the stream until we got to a spot where we could safely cross over. As we came over the bank, we saw some of the villagers coming from the funeral. But the kraal head had left the funeral and had gone to her field to get some green maize to cook at home. We tried calling her but we could not get a good connection…the headmaster then insisted that we strike while the iron was hot and go to find her in her field, for she must hear the good news before night fall. With the young man still directing us, we proceeded to the kraal head’s field. Finally, we met up with her pushing a wheelbarrow at top speed as she had only managed to catch a bit of the news from the bad phone connection.

The headmaster wasted no time explaining what he understood of what we had told him. We were given minutes to explain here and there but he wanted to tell the kraal head, who was a lady called Mrs Magama, himself. She was very excited about what we wanted the girls to be taught and immediately offered to take us to the councillor who is the political head of the village. We quickly shoved all her produce into the back of the car, the wheelbarrow was taken to a neighbour for later retrieval and we proceeded to the small group of shops where the councillor’s office is. As we got there, we were told that she had gone to the irrigation site which they were working on as a village. There we found her busy but she gave us time to explain… between the headmaster, the kraal head and myself we told her what we had come to share. She was so excited about this new organization which had come to lift up the girl child in their area. She said, “Let’s not waste time, the chief is about to leave for a meeting in town but before he goes he must hear of this.’’ We all bundled into the car…the three young men volunteers and I had to be squashed in to the back of the car along with Mrs Magama’s produce, as our number had now ballooned. We back tracked to the chief’s house but, unfortunately, we found him already gone to town. All three stakeholders agreed to go and talk to the chief on our behalf as this was surely something they really supported and wanted to come to their village.

We met up with the chief a few days later and there was no need for introductions.  He just said to me, “Ma’am, I already know who you are and we are glad that you have come to work in our area.   ….anything you need from me, don’t hesitate to call.  And thus the work began.

Joy Khumalo – May 2023