By Margaret Matibiri
The Malilime community of Kabuyuni constituency has been commended for its drive and effort in building four classroom blocks for primary school pupils who were previously learning in shades in the community.
The school was built as a result of a collaboration between the villagers, a local organisation Africa Book Development Organisation (ABDO), and their partner, Maria Rhei of the Korea Hope Foundation.
“The development we are witnessing here is not because of me or the ABDO, but you the community,” said Rhei after touring Malilime Primary School in Kabuyuni Constituency.
“If the villagers had not assisted us with digging the foundations and moving all the building materials, we would not be here to celebrate this milestone which will guarantee education for all children,” said Rhei.
The Malilime community comprises mostly the Tonga people who were displaced from the Zambezi valley during the Smith Regime to pave way for the construction of the Kariba Dam in 1957.
“In the late 1940s, our fathers were told by the government that time to move from the Zambezi and pave way for the construction of the dam,” said Garikai Chitoto, a villager in the area.
“The people resisted the move because we had fertile lands and our ancestors were buried in that land, our history and everything was in the land. In 1957, trucks came and everyone was forced to leave the land. We were left in this area, it was a tsetse fly-infested jungle with wild animals.
“Our chief toured areas around and came back informing us about education. He said children in other parts of this land were getting an education in schools and promised to get our children educated. Simchembo school was then built in 1979, the first school ever built in this area but it was 25 kilometres from here (Malilime). The distance was too much, and we had to cross the Sengwa River on our way to school. When the rain began, some children would be trapped on the other side of the river for a maximum of three months while others would not go to school for the same period.
“This was a huge inconvenience and it negatively impacted our education system. Malilime Primary School was later built using poles and grass. The school was running from shades, we had five rooms until 2019 when ABDO promised to build us a school. To us all, it was a dream we never thought achievable. For starters, there was not enough water to construct a school as big as the one intended. Before we knew it, a borehole was drilled, a solar system was put in place and we had piped water.
“In 2020, we received news that 800 bags of cement had come as the first consignment for the building of the school. The trucks failed to reach this place because it was raining and the Sengwa River could not be crossed, there is no bridge. No one in the community had a car to carry the cement so we mobilised amongst ourselves to carry all the cement and bring it here.”
With assistance from the village, the school was built and the donors stepped in to furnish the classrooms, and donate solar systems to run the administration block, computers and printers.
The challenge at the moment is the number of children dropping out of school without valid reasons.
Approximately 31 kilometres from Malilime, ABDO together with the same donor, Rheiu of the Korea Hope Foundation built another school, Madhamu Chun Hu Secondary.
The team worked with the borehole already drilled in the community and installed solar-powered water pumps to service the school and community at large.
The water source has made it easier for learners to have their practical agriculture projects and they currently have vegetables growing.
The school was also fully furnished, equipped with computers for administrative work as well as textbooks for learners.