In 2013 Benson “adopted” a local village, located 14km out of Victoria Falls on the way to the airport on the main Victoria Falls – Bulawayo Road. The communities in this area were relocated in the colonial era from the fertile lands of the Midlands and Matabeleland South during the creation of farms by the settlers. Relocated into the poor unfertile Kalahari sandveld of Matabeleland North around Victoria Falls the only option for the communities was cattle raising and minimal subsistence farming. Predictably the cattle became easy prey of common predators like lion and hyena and the crops were destroyed by elephants.
The situation has left the communities vulnerable and brought about human / wildlife conflict. In a bid to get an education the children have to walk a long distance to get to the nearest schools, which exposes them to the risk of animal attacks. This discourages families from sending kids to school. Often children also drop out of school in order to assist parents with household chores.
In view of this predicament Ngoko has opted to provide basic education in the Intabayengwe village for 3-5 year old children. Benson has built a basic pre-school / daycare centre which opened in January 2014. The school started with just a handful of kids and by the end of the first term the total count was 30 plus eager children. Each family is asked to contribute a nominal school fee, which is used to provide all the kids with breakfast and lunch each day, which the mothers’ prepare on a rota basis. The teacher’s salary is paid by Ngoko.
Due to the success of the first term the mothers requested adult literacy lessons which are now being provided. We are also supporting the community by teaching new skills with the aim of providing new sources of income and slowly diverting attention from reliance on non-sustainable income sources. After discussions with the villagers we recently provided a couple of sewing machines and introduced sewing classes for the ladies.
We are now offering cultural visits to the Intabayengwe village. Guests can enjoy a cultural exchange and get an insight into village life in its true form. Plans are underway to expand the tour to offer an overnight stay in the village. The funds from the village tours assist with the development of the school and the hosting families (allocated on a rotational basis) also benefit.
The village tour involves meeting the school kids and visiting one of the local homes and interacting with the community. Guests gain an understanding of how the community survive and the structure of a traditional village in terms of social, cultural and political hierarchies. Traditions, skills and folklore are revealed. Take a step back to a time of communal living and inter-dependency, where skills are handed down through the generations.
If you would like to include a visit to Intabayengwe please ask us for details when planning your trip. The visit is easily booked as part of a stay in Victoria Falls (on the Zimbabwe side).
If you would like to contribute to the village we will continually update a “wish list” connected to our current projects. Currently our wish list for the village is:
- Picture books suitable for Kindergarten kids
- Soccer balls (you can buy them deflated)
- Tennis balls (basically anything the kids can roll around)
- Pencils (preferable to pens)
- Crayons (for colouring)
- Toys (the kids love puppets, but don’t currently have any in the pre-school)
- Clothes for the villagers
- Bond paper & Newspaper
One of the biggest problems facing the villagers is the need to buy water for personal consumption and also for domestic animals as most are not connected to the mains water supply which is about 3 kilometres away. Our aim is to get the whole village connected to the mains supply.