Norfolk teacher set to walk for African school
A Norfolk teacher is about to set off on a five-day walk around the county’s coastline to raise money for a Norfolk-based charity which aims to provide educational opportunities for children in Zimbabwe. Sandie Shirley reports.
The plight facing youngsters who attend a village school without windows in Zimbabwe touched the heart of Wymondham mother-of-two, Elisabeth Louis during a visit earlier this year.
“School is cancelled when the wind blows or it rains because it is dangerous,” explains Elisabeth who begins a sponsored five-day walk on August 23 to raise funds for a new school and expand the child sponsorship programme through the Mudeka Foundation charity.
Elisabeth, a joint charity trustee, and teacher at Barnham Broom Primary School, is planning to walk nearly 50 miles along the north Norfolk coast from Hunstanton to Cromer.
Together with husband Steve and their teenage daughter, she spent two weeks in Zimbabwe and saw the successful work of the charity’s child sponsorship scheme for education while discovering the terrible need for the new village school at Muda in the bush.
Work has already begun on a new school but although the foundations are dug and mud from the river bed has been used to make the bricks, only the walls have been erected due to a shortfall in government finances. Together with family and other charity members, Elisabeth is passionate in helping to raise as much as £5,000 to finish the building.
“I left a part of my heart there,” says Elisabeth, who also met a poor Christian couple who are teachers at the school. When she arrived with $340 of donations from UK supporters, she soon realised it was the answer to the family’s prayers. The money was just what they needed by the next day to pay the examination fees for their two eldest children.
The Louis family from Hope Community Church, Wymondham and other charity members spent part of their stay in the capital, Harare, in a small, crowded bungalow. There was little privacy as they faced random electricity and water cuts and some, like Elisabeth, slept on a concrete floor, but the gratitude and hospitality from their hosts was overwhelming.
The Mudeka Foundation was set-up by African musician Anna Mudeka who lives in the UK. Seven years ago she began funding school fees for AIDS orphans and disadvantaged children to attend her former school in Zimbabwe - Rugare Primary School. Anna wanted to give back to the country that had helped make her a successful, sought-after musician who sings and plays the African drums.
Today the expanding work that sponsors 23 youngsters at three schools, is run by the charity and supported by volunteers.
Life in Zimbabwe has changed over the past decade and the need for children to have the right to education is greater than ever. Grandparents, aunts and uncles cannot afford the escalating school fees but sponsorship has given them an opportunity to better their lives explains Elisabeth.
The Mudeka Foundation is going a long way to awaken the dreams and visions that these children never thought they could have, explains Elisabeth. “Some want to be doctors, nurses and lawyers because they are determined to overcome their difficulties and work hard to do their best.”
For more information, including speaking engagements, ring 01603 758119.
www.mudekafoundation.comElizabeth Louis, pictured top with Muda schoolchildren, and the old school and new school walls, above.