FOCUS: The Tale of a Zim Unsung Hero
With a dream to educate rural children in her village, Rangarirai Makaya (56) trained with Mutare Polytechnical College (Zimbabwe) in 2002 as an early childhood and care teacher. She was immediately attached to the school she was going to work with diligently for the next 15 years of her life.
Over the years, she acquired tremendous experience that was going to be evidently relevant in her fulfilling her dream. Although she was working for a top-of-the-range preschool in Mutare, Rangarirai always had a dream in her mind. A mandate to fulfill, you may put it across. Her dream was to one day educate the rural children in her village of origin in the heart of Chiweshe. The goal was to eradicate the difference between rural-educated children and urban-educated children.
In 2016, she moved to South Africa in search of greener pastures, where she worked until the unfortunate passing on of her mother in May 2017. For her, it became a season of reconciling with her dream, and dared to give it a try. With unforeseen circumstances ahead of her plans, 2019 finally became the year for her to start off.
Without any funding of some sort, the advantage was that there was at least space and facilities in the rural home that enabled her to have children around. After speaking to the Headman and being awarded the opportunity to speak to her immediate community, Madzivanzira village, Rangarirai opened her doors to the village children, with a clear mind of wanting to change their story and that of her community. With the little she had, she started purchasing adequate material for her then-few students for a better education.
One might wonder, was there no school within the vicinity? There are schools apparently in surrounding areas but not in her village so for young ECD ages it’s a relatively long distance to walk that is unbearable hence a need for a closer school was addressed. Within the first term, word spread across nearby villages that children from Little Friends Day Care (Rangarirai’s school) were speaking in fluent English and could understand the language remarkably.
Headmasters from nearby schools came to bear witness much to their awe and realization that the environment had nothing to do with the outcome of a child. Her first batch of students who are now in grade two, still scoop top prizes in formal school as they prove that the basis of a child can change their educational story.
Rangarirai further opened her mother’s home to live with children who were now coming from far away prazeros as weekly borders in search of importation of her God-given gift. She took care and educated these children like her own.
One parent attests to Ms. Makaya’s gift as she acclaimed, “Madam Makaya made my child fit in within the family. Whenever her cousins come from the diaspora for holidays, they converse easily in English and play along very well. Which is something my older children never got to do, because communication was hard between them.”
Another parent, Mr Vheremu jokingly said, “As parents of these children we need English lessons from Madam Makaya because the level they are now requires us to keep up as well.”
Over the years Ms. Makaya has become a local heroine serving over 7 villages and over 30 children every year. She smiles every day as she is also in disbelief to finally see her dream to life. During one of her lessons on transport in 2022, madam Makaya asked who among her classes of 56 students combined, had seen a robot (traffic light) working.
Two-thirds of her students attested to having never been to Harare itself. To that effect, she broke another record and introduced educational trips. The first one that year in 2022, saw 23 children being in Harare for the first time and being taken around the capital city’s most interesting and educative places. She had another successful one in October this year.
Her impact is continuously felt within her community and after application, the Mazowe Rural District Council, through her Headman, awarded her a stand to build proper infrastructure that will stand as a legacy started to impact communities and eradicate educational limitations because of environment. She is looking for well-wishers and destiny helpers to partner with her in this cause and believes once a school is built more communities can benefit for generations to come with her passing knowledge and administering training to her forbearers. Her vision continuously expands as she believes more communities in Zimbabwe require such an impact for every child to be the same regardless of where they are.
Can more communities be impacted?
We live to witness as it unfolds.