Zimbabwe: special needs school and farewell

(Tuesday) It’s our last day in Zimbabwe and this makes me extremely sad. I am tempted to delay my flight and stay here a couple more weeks.

This morning, we went to a special needs school, where one of the women’s child from Presbyterian church go. When we arrived, the Head Teacher and Deputy Head welcomed us and did a basic talk about the school.

There are 62 children in the school, aged 5-26. After this, some of them stay on to become teaching assistants. The children have a range of needs from physical to intellectual with sight, hearing mobility problem to autism and Down’s syndrome. It cost $250 per term to attend, which covers food, bus, cook and driver. Parent are involved with the school and help run it.

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It was inspiring to hear that they will never refuse anyone to come but there are some parents out in Zimbabwe that hide their children if they have special needs. The schools mission is to make individuals as normal as possible. Therefore, in reception they learn skills like washing and dressing themselves. I think this is great so that they can become independent and not rely on their parents as they grow up.

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After, we went around each class, blowing bubbles, playing with balloons and other toys. The children loved this and it brought a smile to my face. We hung around a little while they had their playtime and took some pictures if them.

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When we got back from the Special Needs School, the secondary school children were piling chairs into the hall, getting ready for a whole school assembly for us. They set up chairs around the edge at the front for the team, while the pupils were in rows facing the front. There was a table on the stage for the Head teacher and Deputy Head but they also wanted me to sit there, which was embarrassing.

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I had prepared an assembly for the students about our identity in God. It started with a drama, which emphasised that we all have worldly identities. After I talked about God being our identity and that if you believe in him, we are a new creation. I spoke these words for the children to resonate with:

Before Christ… I was a different person… This person was my old nature… My old self… But that person died… And my life is now hidden… With Christ… I am in Christ… And he is in…me… I am a new creation… That doesn’t mean that I will never stumble… Or fall back into old patterns… But I will call them what they are… Old patterns… Old habits of the old person… I will confess them… I will thank God for his forgiveness… I will make amends… Then…I…will…move on… Not because I am taking sin lightly… But because I am taking seriously who God says I am… Holy…pure…un stained…without blemish… Not because of anything I’ve done… But because of what a God has done…for me… He has wiped my sin clean… I am blameless before God… Therefore shame… Has no place in my life… Because I am a new creation… A new creation… And all of the other parts if my story… The parts I want to pretend never happened… Have been redeemed… And they have become… The moments in my life… When God’s Grace is most on displayed… Thank you God… My mistakes do not define me… My past does not define me… Because God has defined my identity… I am his beloved child… In whom he is well pleased… This is my identity.

After we gave them some scriptures to rake hold of before singing to them as a team. Usually, I would not sing to a group of teenagers at home but as they do a lot of singing and dancing in their culture, they would appreciate it.

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When we had finished our part, I sat down as the pupils sang, danced and recited poetry. It gave us a true insight to their culture and how much they love to escape the world of poverty and sing or dance. Some of them had incredible voices and even the boys sang.

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For the rest of the afternoon, I hung out with the pupils while they made loom bands with the supplies I had given them, took loads of photos, then I hung out with Norest (a Zimbabwean guy I met out there) and prepared food for the evening.

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We had planned a farewell meal, where we invited all the staff and their families, while we made and served a three course English meal for them: soup, shepherds pies and apple crumble or trifle.

The evening was a sad but joyous time. There were speeches from the majority of people there and singing and dancing (that’s what Zimbabweans like to do). We ate, spend time with them, gave presents and served them.

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I can’t believe we were leaving the next day. What an amazing time in this country. The people have been incredible – so welcoming, caring, loving! I really want to stay!

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