Aussie Books for Zim initiative brings smiles to Mudzi

Our culture always tells us to look back to where we came from. Cheuka shure kwawakabva, so goes the adage, loosely translated to “look back to where you came from”.

By Tapiwa Zivira

Alfred Chidembo with school children after donating books to his former school Mavhurazi Primary in Mudzi recently. Picture: Shepherd Tozvireva

And that is exactly what Alfred Chidembo, working together with his partner, Leroy Murape, are doing with their initiative, Aussie Books for Zim.

So far, the two have partnered to source books from Australia, where Chidembo is based, and last week they donated 5 000 books of different categories — from ECD to adult — to Mavhurazi Primary School in Mudzi.

But that is not all, as according to Murape, who is the face of the initiative in Zimbabwe, they have so far sourced 30 000 books in total and these are going to be donated to six schools in Mudzi.

“This is an ongoing project that will continue as we will continue to source books and these books are of different categories and subjects such that they will cater for everyone, including adults who might need to use school libraries to add to their knowledge. The reason why we are sourcing books from Australia is that one of our founding members, Alfred, who kickstarted the project is based there, so he will be organising on that side and I will be working from here in Zimbabwe,”he said.

For Chidembo, it was more than just a donation as Mavhurazi School is where he attended his Grade 1 and 2 in the 1980s and is situated close to his home area, so the handover ceremony, which he attended, was such an emotional homecoming.

The ceremony, which took place at the school’s grounds, was filled with a kind of a euphoria that is only known by those who have received a successful child back home.

Schoolchildren and women’s choirs sang songs in praise of Chidembo, while speaker after speaker heaped praise on the initiative.

Just after the event, an excited Chidembo said he had realised the importance of having a library when he transferred from Mavhurazi.

“Mavhurazi did not have a library, so when I was transferred at Grade 3 to Masvingo, my new school had a library and I discovered that I had a lot to catch up on and I made use of the library all the time and I realised this positively changed my results. That is the reason why now, as a holder of a doctorate who came from this humble school, I want to see these children benefitting from accessing a wide variety of literature so that they can realise their own career goals, “he said.

With Chidembo and Murape working with various librarians, it appears Aussie Books for Zim is destined for bigger achievements, not just in Mudzi, but across the country as its drivers have personal passion to contribute to the education sector.

“This is something that is very close to my heart because I think most of our schools do not have enough resources so that is why our pass rates are getting lower each year. I am very passionate about education and coming from a disadvantaged background, I feel that it is my obligation to play a part in helping improving Zimbabwe’s education sector,”said Murape.

Murape is not just part of the Aussie Books for Zim initiative, but is also building a school in Domboshawa.

Having started construction last year, Murape said progress was on track and the school — named Hillview in dedication to its close proximity to the Domboshawa Hills — is set to open in January next year.

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