The Hide Community Trust has formed a strong partnership with Chezhou Primary School which is located in the rural areas on the border of Hwange National Park and educates children ages 4 to 14.
The socio-economic situation is creating severe educational challenges as the majority of the children cannot afford to pay school fees (which are the equivalent of 1 USD per term) and many others are unable to learn as they cannot afford to buy basic stationery.
The Hide Community Trust rebuilt the school in 2015 after it had virtually collapsed from a termite infestation. The Trust has also worked with the school to build a nutritional garden using permaculture techniques, a solar borehole and drip irrigation to enhance the schools feeding programme and ensure that each child has at least one healthy and nutritious meal per school day. The surplus produce is sold to surrounding communities including lodges and camps to provide the school with an extra source of income for the upkeep of the school and to supplement the teachers’ salaries.
The Trust pays for the salaries of two teachers to improve the very high teacher: children ration. We are hoping to increase the number of teachers employed by The Trust in the near future. The Trust pays the salary of a gardener to ensure that the nutritional garden is tended to and flourishing. We have also initiated a school and tertiary education sponsorship programme for children who are academically gifted but who cannot afford to attend educational institutions.
We have recently introduced an indigenous seed exchange programme at the school where the children are encouraged to collect seeds in exchange for educational materials such as stationary and books that have very generously been donated by guests through the Pack for a Purpose Programme. The first exchange held in September 2019 was very successful and we were able to collect 11kgs of seeds from the children comprising of 32 different varieties. Our special focus is on collecting seeds that can be grown for food security and those that provide high-value fodder to supplement livestock diets. Through this programme, the children are able to learn of the benefits of indigenous varieties of trees to supplement their diets and increase their food and nutrition security while also receiving school supplies to aid learning.
These seeds are now being grown in The Hide Safari Camps tree nursery and are planted back into the communities under our reforestation programme once they are established. We work very hard towards trying to fill the gaps in educational infrastructure to ensure higher girl enrolment, retention and completion of the school whilst improving classroom learning.
Furthermore, we are currently developing girl clubs at the school to provide a safe space for young girls to come together, talk, receive counselling as well as learn skills to become independent and empowered. Unfortunately, if you’re born a girl in most African countries, you don’t have much control over your future and that future can be grim: poverty, abuse, gender discrimination, lack of resources, nowhere to turn for help and very few options to improve your situation. Because HIV rates are among the highest in the world, many African children lose one or both parents to AIDS and despite a tradition of extended family support, girls are more likely to suffer and are last to be educated if funds run low or don’t exist. When empowered and educated, girls can think in terms of new possibilities and help transform their communities.