Our visit to Chilongozi school this September was truly wonderful! Mum and Dad came to see all the schools for the first time since Sausage Tree started in 2001 and they were totally overwhelmed by this school in particular. Its extreme remoteness along with the passion of the teachers makes it an inspirational place to visit.
There are currently 210 pupils and 7 teachers at Chilongozi of which Sausage Tree pays for three of them; and the school now teaches students in grade 8 and 9 enabling children to stay at school longer. The nearest secondary school is so far away that they would have to board and many struggle to afford the cost of boarding. At the beginning of the year 53 pupils registered for grade 9 – a huge cohort, which is wonderful to see and highlights the fact that the children are really realising the importance of education if they want to support their families currently and in the future and to try and live with less uncertainty of when the next meal will be!
There were two particularly memorable parts to our visit in September; the first was arriving unannounced and the second walking into the head teacher’s office. Because of its remoteness Haggai our colleague on the ground out there had not been able to contact them to tell them of our arrival. After a three hour drive on a dirt track we arrived on their first day of school to see it buzzing with children in class and others who were arriving for the afternoon session. We were shown round by the deputy head Mr Matanda who has been at the school for a long time and was eager to tell us about all the good things they were going.
On walking into the heads office we were thrilled to see a hive of activity. The room was full of signs and posters with all sort of information about the school on them. There were lists of documented books, school rules, clubs and so much more. He even had a large locked and barred cupboard for the exam papers!
He was keen to tell us about the successful exam results the children gained in last years grade 9 exams and was thankful to Sausage Tree for paying for 3 students each year to go to Secondary School. He expressed concerns about what might happen to the current grade 9’s next year as many of the 53 pupils will not be able to afford the fees for boarding school which is there only option as there are no secondary schools in the local area. He also expressed concerns for the girls at grade 10, informing us that 2 girls had passed last year but were unable to go to Secondary school as their families had married them off.
It was a really informative and positive visit and we look forward to developing even stronger relationships with them.