A School in Mauya, Zimbabwe
The Road from Harare is paved, straight, and long. Interminably long. The horizon boasts a few ‘kopjes,’ outcroppings of ginormous rose-colored boulders covered with tall acacia trees, cactus, jackals, and lions. Thousands of acres of dusty and barren fields pass by, broken only occasionally by red dirt huts with carefully-swept yards. There is no trash.
At Kilometer 735 a small sign points east toward the ‘Seventh-day Adventist Secondary School at Mauya.’ Six kilometers, it says.
We turn onto the dirt road and began the roller-coaster trek to our destination. Today is a day of celebration, for the prayers have been answered and the new school buildings have been completed. Multiple buildings, including classrooms, a toilet block, and administrative offices, await teachers and students.
There will be a large crowd.
Mauya was once a collection of well-kept tobacco plantations; green plants stretching beyond the horizon and tall gum trees lining the paths. The tobacco is now gone, but the workers and the buildings remain.
Several years ago the government of Zimbabwe contacted Seventh-day Adventist church leaders and asked if they would like to receive the gift of a large parcel of land near Mauya.
‘For a school,’ the officials said. ‘You already have a successful and growing primary school in the hills nearby. We would like for you to also open a secondary school campus. Your new land is 120 hectares of farmland and includes all of the buildings of the old Mauya tobacco plantation. The plantation house, the workers’ homes, the drying towers, the storage sheds, the wells, and the remaining fences are all part of the property. It will be a good place for a secondary school and a good place to raise cattle.’
Church officials assembled a planning team, drove the roads to Mauya, and agreed to start a school.
There was no difficulty in recruiting students. Scores of teenagers were waiting beside the buildings, eager for teachers to arrive. However, the wells would need some work, the houses were dilapidated, and the only possible place to hold classes was in the old red-brick, tobacco-drying towers.
The list of ‘needs’ reached all the way to the offices of Maranatha Volunteers International in Roseville, California.
Maranatha listened to the requests and added ‘Mauya’ to our Zimbabwe list. A brief visit to Mauya convinced us that the needs were urgent and that we could partner with local leaders to provide some of the solutions.
Adventist leadership in East Zimbabwe and local church members began revitalizing the houses so faculty would have safe places to bring their families. Work was done to heal the water supply. An industrial-size generator was hauled in and connected to a temporary power grid. Lights came on, water flowed, and faculty children began playing beneath the gum trees.
It takes several months to manufacture and ship One-Day School classroom buildings from the factory in Minnesota to Zimbabwe, so the school headmaster recruited local help and turned the tobacco-drying towers into temporary and wholly-inadequate classrooms and dormitories. The old storage shed was gutted and replaced with block walls, cathedral windows, and enough open space for a dining room and a gymnasium!
That was just the beginning.
Many of the secondary school students, as part of their educational experience, helped with the remodeling, transforming a maintenance shed into a library, student center, and school store. Others began to care for a growing herd of cattle.
Cattle? Yes! Beautiful cattle, gifted to Mauya by farmers from throughout the East Zimbabwe Union as a special ‘tithe’ on their herds.
A local Maranatha team moved to Mauya in late March and began preparing the ground and pouring concrete foundation slabs. When the One-Day classroom containers arrived, the new school buildings rose from the ground like magic.
Celebration Day drew guests from the Zimbabwe Ministry of Education, from the local government, and from every family within 10 miles! The celebration tent overflowed with parents. The student choir sang like angels. Protocol was served—many times. Everyone admired the newly planted landscaping, and the buildings passed inspection with ‘flying colors.’
Today, the Mauya Adventist Secondary School is ‘up and running.’ Four hundred and sixty-five students are registered for the current term and more are expected in January. This is your school—a learning center funded and loved by Maranatha donors. It is also their school—a place where quality, value-centered education will help grow the future of Zimbabwe. •