Ivan Zhakata Features Writer
EVERYONE who goes to Chihota has an amazing story to tell. Development has become the root word for this community in transition.
Vana Trust, a non-profit organisation that has transformed Chihota through various developmental projects, including educating locals.
With generous support of individuals and corporates, the trust has been involved in finding placement and work for less-privileged children as well as developing schools in the community.
Recently, Vana Trust donated a water tank to St Nicholas School, giving pupils and the surrounding communities access to potable water.
During a recent visit to the Chihota community, The Herald witnessed various development projects that had been undertaken by Vana Trust.
One of the beneficiaries of Vana Trust, Vimbai Mandishona, explained how Vana Trust transformed her life from paying her tuition fees and finding placement for her as a banker with Stanbic Bank.
“It is my pleasure to tell you of my journey with Vana Trust,” she said. “I would like to thank God for creating me and the wonderful people around me. When I look at myself right now I feel like flying. Vana Trust nurtured me from a bud and now I am blooming. Very soon I will be bearing fruits.
“Looking back into my life, I do not believe where I am right now, working in a big and stable bank, Stanbic Bank, was impossible. From being an ordinary rural girl to a banker. I did not know a computer. My first time to see a computer was when I was in my first year at university.”
Mandishona said Vana Trust came into her life in 2000 when she was in primary school and took over her tuition responsibility since she was a brilliant girl.
“I was a very noticeable poor girl child at the school and I think I was intelligent and active, despite my situation,” she said.
“Vana Trust then identified me and that was the beginning of my beautiful journey with them and a critical turning point in my life.
“I completed my Ordinary Level in 2006 and Advanced Level in 2008. I failed O’ Level Mathematics and I thought Vana Trust was not going to help me and l lost communication with them. As a deep rural girl I did not know what to do, and I decided to get married along the way because I was clueless about my future and getting married was the only option for me.
“I thought I was running out of time. However, I rewrote Mathematics and managed to pass with a B. Fortunately, in 2013, Vana Trust officials visited St David’s for their breakfast project and we met there, since I was staying in the rural areas.
“Aunty Nyasha (Gwatidzo) asked me what I wanted to do in life and I told her I wanted to work in a bank. So she chose a Banking and Finance programme for me.”
Mandishona said Vana Trust supported her all the way, through rentals, fees, clothing, a laptop and everything that she needed during the time she was at university. Mandishona said she managed to come up with a class 2.1 degree class and now she is working for Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe.
“In conclusion, I am forever indebted to Vana Trust and I respect and value Nyasha Gwatidzo’s vision of enriching the lives of vulnerable children and young adults,” she said.
“Vana Trust is a unique organisation, whose founders and trustees work tirelessly to enrich and change people’s lives.”
Another beneficiary, Chenai Bandera, who is studying towards a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting (Honours) at Midlands State University said her life was difficult as she used to fund her studies, food and accommodation by doing part-time jobs.
“I had no help from anyone from the time of the death of my parents given the economic hardships,” she said.
“My education was threatened, I was stranded until Vana Trust found me and lightened my financial burden, allowing me to focus on my educational journey.
“I am truly grateful and I appreciate with all my heart the financial assistance, love and commitment that Vana Trust invested in me and my educational advancement. One of my greatest dreams has been earning a degree in Accounting and this would have never been possible without the generous help of Vana Trust through their help with full tuition fees, food and accommodation.”
Bandera said she considered herself a blessed and empowered woman and cannot thank Vana Trust enough for giving her the financial support that was needed for her to pursue her studies.
She said Vana Trust has made her academic life better and she will work hard to achieve her goals because they brought her the hope she had lost.
Pasadena Dinha, the projects coordinator, said they run numerous fundraising projects such as the annual sponsored walks, the high tea and golf days.
“Currently, we are working tirelessly to generate income in order to complete an ongoing development programme we are running at St David’s, which will encompass the completion of a science laboratory and procurement of the apparatus,” he said.
“With the Government emphasising and encouraging students to take up science subjects through the STEM programme, we realised that students who aspire to venture into science-related career paths have to enroll and travel a distance of more than 10 kilometres to the only school with a science laboratory, hence, Vana Trust has embarked on a project to complete and acquire equipment for a Science Lab at St David’s School.”
Dinha said the objective of the programme was to give the Chihota community access to the science world.
“The fundraising will enable Vana Trust to be more competent in carrying out more projects in more schools,” he said.
“This will be the first school with a well-equipped laboratory within the area, thus, enabling us to groom biologists, astronomers, engineers, scientists and doctors, unlike the average rural grown child with no access to the world of science.”
Vana Trust is a charity organisation co-founded in 1998 by author and philanthropist Nyasha Gwatidzo to assist in paying school fees for vulnerable and orphaned children in the St David’s Chihota catchment area.
Since its inception, thousands of children have been supported with school fees and other material support such as food and clothing. Vana Trust is proud to have continued this support throughout the children’s education to include university and other vocational support.
With generous support of individuals and corporates, the Trust has been involved in finding placement and work for underprivileged, but deserving children.