St. George’s College covers 80 hectares of beautiful manicured grounds along Borrowdale Road, a stone’s throw from the city centre and next door to State House. A recent ranking by the African Economist magazine put Saints at number 5 for senior schools in Africa and it’s not hard to see why. The school has wonderful facilities for the arts and sciences as well as 14 kinds of sport and 23 clubs, which the school’s fortunate 800 scholars can enjoy. Attending St George’s is a huge privilege.
It would be easy for the boys to take all this for granted and to forget about those less privileged than themselves, except, of course, for the long-established tradition of service projects at the school. All AS-Level candidates are required to complete three weeks volunteer work with an organisation for the underprivileged before they enter Lower 6. The project is divided into two halves: three weeks work on site and a further three to four weeks of fundraising back at school through whatever entrepreneurial ideas the boys can come up with.
Service projects are currently underway and, having been a part of the 2002 service projects myself, it was interesting to meet up with some of last year’s L6 to see what their service projects meant to them.
Ryan Nyahunzvi worked in the kitchen at the B.S. Leon Trust, an old peoples’ home
“I was introduced to a timid-looking lady who, according to Sister Monica, “wanted to be friends”. I was apprehensive. Until that moment I had actively avoided chit-chatting with residents, doubting that we would have anything to talk about. With fingers crossed, I nervously introduced myself and asked for her name. She spoke in a foreign accent, softly, yet with the biggest smile her muscles could fathom. “I am Antoinette. I’m Goan” (from Goa, India). Aha! I remembered an old Goan friend and had the bright idea to use him as a conversation-carrier. As I met more people, I found them to be just as amiable as Antoinette. I enjoyed their company and the question of maintaining conversations quickly became the least of my worries. It was definitely a worthwhile experience.”
David-Ross Stally worked with the teachers of Crowhill Farm School
“The journey was indeed an eye-opener for us Saints boys as we truly saw and experienced life on the flip side of the coin. The most profound memory of my entire experience occurred at the toilet. Not the actual toilets, which were in a horrendous state, but rather the system the school had employed for after the students had used the toilet and needed to wash their hands. The system was a bucket, yes that is all, a standard bucket. This bucket was filled every morning with clean water and throughout the day, after using the toilet, all the students would dip their hands in this same bucket in an attempt to ‘clean’ their hands. This water, now contaminated with the germs and dirt of the first person who used it, then sat there all day as the procedure was repeated.”
Mwazvita Mutowo went to Emerald Hill Children’s Home where he spent the afternoons with orphans and children from broken homes
“The experience was different to say the least. I had never been to a children’s home and I was extremely shy, not knowing how to react to them or how they would react to me. To my surprise the children were lovely people; all they wanted was someone to talk to. The first few days were tumultuous but as the three weeks progressed I got to form bonds and friendships that have lasted even until today. Because of them I joined our Interact Club so that I could give my time to the less fortunate and simply spend time with them. The most striking thing about service projects is how the three weeks with the less fortunate softened my heart and made me aware of how my ‘troubles’ seem so trivial compared to the orphans’ predicament, yet they manage to stay happy.”
Pegywell Makuchete travelled with Joshua Gravel and Neil Stringer to the Saint Rupert Mayer Mission in Chinhoyi
“We woke up at 5:30 everyday and walked 1.5km to Father Karl Hermann’s house, where we would shower and cook our breakfast on a fire. The working day began by teaching at the secondary school, which was about 2km from our cabin. We taught Science, English and Mathematics to the form one and two streams. Their English was appalling and yet many of the students were at least 17 years of age and above. It was very sad to witness. In the afternoon we would walk all the way back to Father Hermann’s house for lunch and then all the way to the primary school, which was a further kilometre from the secondary school. There we would take the grade 7 students for extra lessons until 4:00pm. The grade 7 students were a delight to teach, as they were determined. It was still very discouraging to note their level of English. They had to be taught from scratch. At the end of the day we managed to enjoy a different aspect to life and be more appreciative of what we have. It was a fine and life changing experience which I would recommend to all spoiled children in Harare.”