British lower division football fan launches fundraising project to help schools in Zimbabwe

Chris Walker is raising money to buy IT equipment for the Pakati Secondary School in Zimbabwe

A Scunthorpe United fan has launched a fundraising project which will help primary and secondary schools in Zimbabwe to buy IT equipment.

Chris Walker, who is originally from Scunthorpe and is a huge Iron fan, started working as a teacher at Pakati Secondary School in 1989, through the international development charity, VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas).

The country means a great deal to Chris, having lived there for three years while teaching, and although he experienced for himself the difficulties of living in Zimbabwe for himself, he has nothing but good memories of his time there.

Chris said: “The country means a great deal to me. To finally do something for the school which gave me such a wonderful experience, means a lot.

“Not least as it is where I met my wife – she was visiting the area where her family live and I taught some of her younger relatives when we were introduced.”

Chris went back to Zimbabwe in September for the first time since leaving the school in 1991, seeing the developments first-hand, and was delighted to see how far the school – and the country – had come.

Chris returned to the school he taught at for the first time in over 20 years

He said: “There are now things like new classrooms for general use and an administration block. There is now an area dedicated for basic building and construction.

“There are also more houses for the staff than before, plus electricity. The idea is to convert the current staffroom to an IT suite. There is even a car park now!”

After seeing all the progress, Chris felt inspired, and maybe even more importantly, motivated to help them in their developments.

On his return, he sat and thought about what he could do to help the school, and between the headteacher, Mr. Mugove, and him, they agreed that he could raise funds towards getting IT equipment to the school and its nearby feeder primary school of the same name – Pakati.

Chris, who now lives in Bradford, came up with the idea to do a sponsored walk from Bradford City’s Valley Parade stadium to Scunthorpe United’s Glanford Park.

Leading up to the Iron’s last home game, against the Bantams on April 27, the idea for the walk emerged from discussions with one of Chris’ work colleagues in Bradford.

Chris said: “It seemed a good idea and the timing gave me time enough to prepare for it properly.

Chris Walker with teachers from the school

“I have several things in place already and along with the website, there is a twitter feed, email, and a gofundme page.

“I have received a small number of donations already, I have also had an offer from a business outside Leeds for a few PCs free of charge!”

Chris plans to make frequent returns to Zimbabwe over the new few years to see how his future fundraising has helped the school.

He added: “I know there are political and economic problems there, but my experiences of Zimbabweans is that they are a friendly, resilient, hard-working people, quick to laugh, and if you make a good impression, they don’t forget what you have done.

“I look back on my time there as probably the most rewarding time of my life, with a fair few stories to tell.”

More information about the project at the school can be seen at  https://friendsofpakati.com and anyone who wishes to donate towards Chris’ fundraising can do so at  http://www.gofundme.com/friends-of-pakati