A School is Transformed; Communities and Generations are Changed Forever!


Tererai_TrentDr. Tererai Trent, Scholar, Humanitarian, and Founder, Tinogona Foundation

March 29, 2013


Tererai Trent was selected by Oprah as her All-Time Favorite Guest in May 2011, and honored with a special gift – a donation from The Oprah Winfrey Foundation for Save the Children to rebuild the Matau Primary School and improve learning for children in the community where Tererai grew up in Zimbabwe.

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On a sunny day, bright light streams in from the holes in the roof to the classroom below. But during the rainy season, water pours in. Teachers rush to move their students and learning materials into the dry corners of the room.

When it storms, roaring winds rip the roofs off school buildings. The result? The open-air classrooms are condemned for use and students are shuffled into already crowded classrooms, or have to attend school in shifts.

And so it continues, year after year, the relentless sun, rain and wind. It takes a toll on the school structure. On the floor where children sit, the cement is broken away, leaving gaping holes throughout the room.

These are the conditions under which children went to the Matau Primary School. But I could be describing any number of schools throughout my beloved Zimbabwe.The environment is not safe and distracts children from learning. That is why I have always dreamed of building a better school for the children of my village. Today, with tears in my eyes, I can tell you that my hopes and dreams are about to come true.

Thanks to the generosity of Oprah, Save the Children and my community embarked on a project to build a new primary school in Matau.

Here is what has been completed since we began this journey in 2011:  

  • 5 new classrooms, painted and equipped with locally made desks, chairs, etc.
  • 2 teachers’ houses
  • 1 borehole drilled and piped. (This is the first time children can access clean water on the school grounds. Tinogona t-shirt money paid for this.)
  • 1 preschool center
  • 1 playground
  • New latrines and hand washing stations

Children and teachers are already filling up these beautiful spaces, which were lovingly built with nearly 400,000 bricks made by hand by community volunteers.

Here is what will be finished in a few months:

  • 1 library (filled with books)
  • 1 administrative building
  • 1 new classroom
  • Here is what we will finish repairing and rehabilitating over the next several months:
  • 7 teachers’ house
  • 6 secondary school classrooms

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. The images here of the Matau Primary School, showing the before and after, the transformation, speak for themselves. It is incredible. Tinogona. It is achievable!

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This entry was originally posted on Tererai’s Facebook page on March 26th.

The Garden of My Heart

Tererai_TrentDr. Tererai Trent, Scholar, Humanitarian, and Founder,
Tinogona Foundation

March 26, 2013


Tererai Trent was selected by Oprah as her All-Time
Favorite Guest in May 2011
, and honored with a special gift – a donation
from The Oprah Winfrey Foundation for Save the Children to rebuild the Matau
Primary School and improve learning for children in the community where Tererai
grew up in Zimbabwe.

________________________________


Ttrent_Playtime two

Spring arrived today, and I keep thinking about Matau in Zimbabwe, where my roots are firmly grounded. Nearly two years ago, Oprah gave me an incredible gift to help the children in my home village blossom into educated and aspirational adults. Today, we are nearing a rebirth and renewal in this little pocket of Africa, and in the garden of my heart.

Mothers, father, teachers, brothers, sisters – have all come together with Save the Children to feed the minds and cultivate growth in learning among the youngest seedlings. Extraordinary things can happen when you put the right tools in the hands of communities. They flourish. There is so much exciting news to share.

It begins with smiling and laughing preschoolers, pushing each other higher and higher on the swings. Two years ago, there were no playgrounds in these rural villages. Through the education project, communities are learning how to build safe playgrounds with local materials provided by the villagers themselves. Two playgrounds have already been constructed.

Play is good for children. It helps them grow and learn important skills, and it is fun. It is wonderful to see the joy on the children’s faces in these photos. Their smiles are contagious.


This entry was originally posted on Tererai’s Facebook page on March 20th.

A Groundbreaking Day at Matau Primary School

Sophie headshot Sophie Hamandishe, Communications Officer, Save the Children Zimbabwe

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hurungwe District, Zimbabwe


Even before the sun was up, in the early morning chilly temperatures, we were on our way to to Matau, a 4 ½ hour trip from here in Harare, Zimbabwe.

We were going to the ground breaking for the Matau Primary School project. This is a Save the Children project funded through The Oprah Winfrey Foundation in honor of Tererai Trent, Oprah’s all-time favorite guest who attended Matau school in her early years. The project focuses on improving children’s education through rebuilding the school, and, more importantly, boosting literacy and early learning for children in Matau and neighboring villages.

Once we arrived at the school we were ushered to an open space behind an old classroom for the ground breaking. More than 1,000 people, half of them children, were gathering, waiting for the event to begin. You could feel the excitement. Parents, school children, Chief Matau and the guest of honor, the assistant district administrator, were all there. (This was not your ordinary day in Matau.)

The Headman, an elderly grey-haired man, led everyone in some blessings. To my surprise, the cultural blessing was simply having all man clapping their hands while the women sang.

The master of ceremonies, who is the deputy headmaster at the school, then called out to the children saying “Slogan” and all the children raised their little hands in excitement and chanted:

“Oprah! Auya nePower, (Oprah has brought education power), Oprah! Auya nePower. Save! Yauya nePower (Save the Children has brought education power), Save! Yauya nePower.”

Then, there were gymnastics, poems, songs and dances from parents and children.

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In his speech, the chairman of the Matau School development gave kudos to the parents for their commitment to the project. In just one and a half months, the parents molded all 450,000 bricks needed for the new school. (That’s a lot of sweat-equity!) All that remains is the curing of the bricks.

“The most important form of inheritance that we can leave for our children is education,” said the local counsellor for the area. He added that “today’s function is a reminder about one of Matau’s former students, who despite being based overseas, continues to be concerned about the welfare of children at her former school.”

“We want children to learn in a safe and child-friendly environment,” said the Mashonaland West Provincial education director. 

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Then, the district administrator, surrounded by school children, broke ground by digging a pick into the dirt at the construction site. Nearby, women and men were cheering and whistling in celebration.

After the closing remarks, it was time for us to join in the feast of “sadza,” (thick maize porridge), which was being cooked in black iron pots over the fire. This is the norm in our African culture. Food and celebration go hand in hand! 

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Learn how you can get a Project Tinogona T-shirt and help support the Matau Primary School Project