Thursday, 26 May 2016

All sorts of fun at the Caledonia Rose Centre!

With all our new structures in place, we have been able to really concentrate on our services at the Caledonia Rose Centre this year.  
The first big excitement when coming back to school in May was that Auntie Sarah came back to teach us sport. The children have learnt jumping, ball sports, colours and so many other things from Auntie Sarah who has joined us in our new sports area.  She is very patient and is teaching all the children English as well as bringing into her sports lessons everything they are learning in the classroom.  She is also teaching our volunteer teachers how to do the sports activities so that they can do them when she is not there.  Thank you, Auntie Sarah, for all you do for us! 
Auntie Sarah lines up children to start a hurdle relay 

Dorcas has seen the first programme at our skills development centre roll out in full swing!  With thanks to The Child Resource Institute of Zimbabwe and with donations from Holly Hudson, Jess Stevens and Lee Sanderson, we were able to start our sewing project.  The ladies from the community have made cushions for the skills development centre so that they have somewhere to sit when they come and learn and spend time at the centre.  They have now started making cushions to sell and we hope to see some of these on sale at the Miracle Missions fair on Saturday.  This will bring in some income to buy further materials so that we can teach more ladies how to sew.  
Cushions for our skills development centre (and curtains make with extra fabric in the background!) 

Beautiful cushions to be sold for income generation for caregivers in the community 

Dorcas and Bianca have been looking after the children on the feeding programme so well.  There are many more children in the community that need feeding and we are hoping to be able to expand the feeding programme from 200 to 400 by the end of the year.  Dorcas also makes use of the packaging that the porridge comes in to make hats, aprons and clothes peg holders!  

Dorcas is so proud of her creations - all out of ePap bags!

The clean water that we have been given access to by Amanzi using the funds raised by its 'Dollar-a-Dinner' campaign for our water project have meant that we can cook the food for our children and give them a drink of water without worrying about contamination and illness.  Thank you, Amanzi, for giving us the opportunity to have a cool drink of clean water every day! The Amanzi water project has also allowed us to provide our children with flush toilets, a novelty in this community.  The teachers have taken time to teach the children how to use these loos and they are now used to going to the loo on their own and even washing their hands after they have finished in the ablutions.

Smart new ablutions with our very own water tank to flush the loos 

We now have four programmes running at The Caledonia Rose Centre, namely ECD (early childhood development or preschool), a feeding programme, a skills development programme, parenting and we are hoping to start up our new health programme in the next month.  We are looking for a nurse to come in and screen our children for any illnesses that we can help them with or to refer them to a clinic for those that we cannot.  It has been so wonderful to see the health of our children improving with the nutrition that they are receiving but now we have to focus on those illnesses that we have not yet tackled!  We will keep you update in the progress of this programme and look forward to sending more photos of happy children at school! 

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A new year at Caledonia Rose Preschool and its been wonderful so far!

At the end of last year, we saw 40 children graduate from the Caledonia Rose Preschool with a wonderful performance of the Christmas story put on by the children and lots of dancing and celebration.
Children lining up to graduate in their smart gowns

Mary and Joseph are visited by the Angel Gabriel 

Father Christmas joined the party too! 

The children entertained their parents and guests with rhymes and songs 

This year, we have welcomed a further 40 children into our school, giving them the chance to learn and play and receive the love and care that our volunteers can provide.  We have seen children embrace this experience and can already recognize the change in these children as they become more confident, loving and so smiley and happy!

We have had the most fantastic donations made to us this year by Sue Janetti and her friends from the Zimbabwe Gecko Society in Canada.  For some of our youngest students, this is the first time they have received a new outfit and in and amongst the overwhelming emotions, there were many happy little kiddies going home in fun new outfits. 
Beautiful outfits for all our kiddies at school and on the feeding programme 

We carry on feeding our students as well as the 120 other children from the community.  We have seen the most amazing changes take place in the physical strength and ability of those who are on our feeding programme.  We are excited about the prospect of increasing the number of children on this programme as Zimbabwe is currently in crisis and many of the children in our area do not have access to even one meal a day.
Children eat in groups of 50 to allow us to feed all 200 by mid morning 

Some of the most needy in the community are the youngest.  Its great to see them growing so strong! 

Our ablutions are complete and the volunteers at the centre have been so patient with our children as they have slowly been training them in the use of a flush loo as well as sanitation including washing their hands after they have used the ablutions.  The children are getting more confident and are now able to use the loos without the assistance of a volunteer.
Baby loos for little children to learn on 

The outside of our completed ablutions - 3 for boys, 3 for girls and one in the middle for adults 

Our skills development centre has been painted and we have bought a carpet and are slowly resourcing it with books and other materials.  We have been having a most wonderful time meeting with the parents discussing and dealing with issues of parenting whilst also working with them to provide ideas for income generation and getting to know more and more people in the community.
Our new skills development centre where caregivers and other members of the community can come to talk and learn 
Our focus this year is on the soft side of our programmes.  Our volunteers, using their own time and money, have been on various training courses and are learning so much that they can bring back to their classrooms and use to teach their children at a higher standard than ever before.  We are so grateful to them for their time and energy that they put into the children and the impact of their work is more and more obvious every day.
Volunteers enjoy the music and festivities at the 2015 graduation - all dressed up! 
One of the ways we have seen the impact of Caledonia Rose is on those children who have graduated and gone on to 'big school'.  We have had numerous visits from many of our graduates and it has been fantastic to hear from them and their parents and the heads of their schools how they are progressing after having left our centre. 

Makanaka with her first toy in 2014 

Makanaka is 2nd from the left and is now a very grown up Grade 2 student 

Old boys visit their friends at the centre

We are finishing up the construction of our sports area that will allow the children to carry out their sporting activities in a shaded space, a space where they can run, throw a ball, play and enjoy getting strong and fit.  We are excited by this and look forward to seeing it used to the maximum by happy, healthy children!
Sports area under construction 
Our website is due to be up and running in the next few weeks and we are really looking forward to having a forum to illustrate all that is happening on the ground.  So keep your eyes open for the launch of this site and please, if you have had any experiences with us that you would like to share, feel free to send me photos/a little blurb on

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A wonderful year at The Caledonia Rose Preschool - and a lot of thank yous!!!

It has been a long while since this blog has been attended to and in great part, this is due to the fact that we have been so busy on the ground that we have rather lost sight of the outside world!  However, we have not lost sight of the incredible provision and love and encouragement we have had from all of our loyal friends and supporters all over the world over the last year.

It is so wonderful to look back on where we have come from to where we are today.  We started off with a piece of land that was overgrown and untended and we now have a buzzing little centre that is filled with smiling happy faces every day.   We welcome 83 children a day into our classrooms and another 120 children into the centre each day to provide them with a meal and a place to play and be loved.
We started with an empty plot of land 

Children coming to school

Our first classroom - a grass mat in a teacher's back yard 

This year has seen the biggest changes at the Caledonia Rose Preschool.  With the support of Amanzi Restaurant and their 'Dollar-a-Dinner' fund (, last year we were able to erect a fence around our centre that allows our children and all others who come to the centre to feel safe.  It gives the community a space where they can come and play, talk, work and eat with the knowledge that they are cared for and loved in this space.

Thanks to generous donations from Anthony Haggie and Elvis and Marta Gonzalez, we have erected 3 more classrooms, increasing our student body from the 27 we had at the end of last year to the 83 children we accommodate at present.  We have been donated wonderful play equipment that the children use to the point that it has to be repaired every 3 months!  Last year, we constructed 6 blair toilets but due to the very high water table in Caledonia, we have had to construct a proper ablution block with soak away system and flushing loos.  Thanks to Alistair Geddes and Impact International as well as the Hand in Hand Foundation Worldwide, we now have 6 flushing loos for the children, 3 for girls and 3 for boys, and one for the teachers.

Our old blair toilets - a good start! 
The building of our new, very smart ablution block

Our new, nearly finished ablution block 

The verandah of our new classrooms 

Bright new playground equipment in front of our new classroom block

We have transferred our feeding programme container from the bottom of the site to an area just inside the entrance and have renovated it and painted it bright red.  We have constructed a verandah with concrete chairs and tables and the children come in well-behaved, happy little groups to receive their meal.  Thanks to Nicholas Simpson and Elvis and Marta Gonzalez we have been able to carry out these renovations and will be able to feed the children until August next year without worrying about where we will find their next meal.
The feeding container before renovations 

The new feeding programme container - children washing up after eating 

Caregivers cooking porridge for children from the community 

Children enjoying their porridge 

Thanks to the Beit Trust, we are currently erecting a skills development centre which will become a space for counseling and training, in partnership with the Child Resource Institute of Zimbabwe (CRIZ) and their Support for Young Women and Girls (SWAG) programme.  This centre will open in January 2016 with reading and project resources to be used to educate the girls and to train them so that they can start projects of their own.
Construction of our new skills development centre 

Near completion!!! 

Our plans for 2016 include the construction of a sports area where the children can be taught ball skills and carry out other such activities in a covered, appropriate space.  Alongside this, we aim to run the nutrition garden where each class will have their own allocated garden and where they will learn to grow vegetables and have the opportunity to eat their own products and to give them away to those less fortunate than themselves.  We also aim to improve our water source, digging a deeper well and providing clean water to the children at the school and those on the feeding programme.  With donations from David Ryan, Juila and Andrew Mama, The Hand in Hand Foundation Worldwide and Elvis and Marta Gonzalez, we will be able to carry out these projects as well as cover some of the ongoing costs of the centre in the early months of next year!  

As well as the many physical changes we have seen taking place on our site this year, we have seen the most wonderful change in the children thanks to the remarkable people with whom we work.  The teachers themselves, unqualified and paid very little, are the most fantastic group of dedicated, hardworking women.  They truly love the children and are always on call to help out where needed.  They have been hugely encouraged by the formidable group of volunteers we have had join us this year.  Jo Craig, Freya Ritchie and Sarah Blythewood have uninhibitedly given of their time and effort to train the teachers, spend time with the children and be a hugely significant part of our little school.  They have added so much joy and light to the project and it is clear to see that their presence is hugely appreciated.  The other day, I was about 500m out of the school gates, around the corner from the school and a whole lot of little children ran up to my car shouting ‘Auntie Jo, Auntie Jo!!!’  They were hugely disappointed to see that it was only me!

Auntie Jo doing exercises with the children
Happy little faces having their school photo taken! 


Martha has, as per usual, been the rock of the project.  She was very ill at the beginning of the year but has come back stronger and more determined than ever before.  She is my heroine and truly teaches me so much about humility, love, fortitude and faith.  I have so much gratitude and respect for her and will never be able to thank her enough for all she has done to make this all happen.  She has been hugely assisted this year by Tammy Dykes, the director of CRIZ, whose unwavering determination and drive has seen much change happen in TFP and at the Caledonia Rose Preschool.
Martha works so hard to see all of this happen 

Our UK trustees, Charles Wentzel and Bryony Dobson, have seen the registration of The Foundations Project (UK) carried out and have both been out to visit us in Zimbabwe.  They are both on hand with advice and assistance and have been solid advisors when I have wavered every now and again.

And so, we end our year with 40 children graduating and going on to Grade 1 at various schools in the area.  This will allow us to register another 40 children next year to join us in our classrooms and my hope is that we have provided those who are leaving with the hope for a better future, a future filled with confidence, joy, physical and emotional strength but most of all with the gift of education that they can take with them into the world and hopefully one day give on to others.  

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

What a fun day we had!!!!

On 5 December, 2013, we were given our first Christmas party as children of the first Foundations Project preschool.  We arrived at 10am in our smart uniforms and we all sat down while Auntie Memory made a speech about our first year at preschool.  Some of our parents also made speeches, saying thank you to Auntie Charlotte and Mai Damu and to our teachers who work so hard to look after us and to provide us with the best early childhood development we could get. 

We watched as 12 of our colleagues got certificates as they have left our school and are going into grade 1 this year.  After this was the best part of the day when we each were given a plate of yummy treats including delicious cupcakes made for us by Jess Irvine. Jess joined us at our party and we also welcomed Caroline Kaschula, Jess Lovemore and Kristy Fennel who helped make it even more fun!  

We were each given a pair of shoes for us to wear to school this year and they look so smart!  Most of us got given shoes that are too big but that is ok because it means we will be able to wear them all year!

We ate all our treats and danced to music in our new shoes and we also had a clown organized for us by our teachers and parents who painted our faces and helped us to break open the pinata and eat all the sweeties!

We invited some of the other children from the community who don’t go to our school to join us for the day.  It was fun to include them in our games

Thank you so much to the people who donated money towards our shoes.  We are so grateful and love wearing them! We hope that next year you might join us at our party. 

Thank you to the following for our shoes:
James and Tania Perkins
Helga Kohler
Kath O’Neill
Louise Payne
Jo Fothergill
Natalie Demblon
Holly Hudson
Grace Hudson
Linda Hudson
Jackie Fingland
Nicky Slater
Jess Irvine
Jane Irvine
Shelagh Tozer
Gen Tozer
The Lorimers
Gemma Parvin
Sasha Ferreira
The Soles
Mim Haggie
Isabel Essery
Nick Birkby
Mea Lashbrooke
Niki de Quelen
Bryony Dobson
Lottie Wylde
Lynne Shelley
Meghan Magnussen
Julie Mercer

Here are some photos of our great celebration!
We were so blessed by donations that even children who arent at our school got given a pair of shoes

The clown made us all funny hats out of balloons

Beverly loves her shoes even though they are a bit big! 

Everyone was very proud of their presents

The clown explaining the piƱata

Everyone got a turn to try to break the paper

Brand new shoes were a great excitement in Mabvuku 

Yum, sweeties! 

The clown and the volunteers painted our faces with fun designs