The Ntabayengwe community, and other neighbouring communities, are located in scattered homesteads just 20 minutes drive from Victoria Falls. Despite being relatively close to town, the daily existence could be from another world. Most families survive by cattle raising and subsistence farming on the infertile Kalahari Sand soils. Human-wildlife conflict is rife as the area is adjacent to the Zambezi National Park and Jafuta Forest, so cattle are often taken by lions.
The people in this area are often poorly educated with low aspiration levels and limited role models. Prior to Lesedi, the nearest local school was many kilometres away. Children were often absent or dropped out of school altogether. Many parents, unable to pay school fees, preferred their children to remain at home to help with household chores. Alcohol dependence was an issue, with some households engaged in the illegal moonshine business. Many families are dealing with ill health, including HIV and AIDS.
The cycle of poverty in these communities has persisted for generations and there was little hope for improvement without outside intervention.
In 2013, one of the co-founders of Ngoko Safaris, Benson Siyawareva, became involved with the local community and realized that many children were not attending school. Along with his business partner, Fiona Thompson, Benson began working with the community on an ambitious plan to build a primary school in the local area, aiming to break the cycle of poverty through the power of education.
Lesedi Primary School
Our project started with construction of a simple structure to offer classes to pre-school children, with the initial intake of kids, our “pioneer” students, enrolling in 2014.
Thanks to the generosity of our ever-expanding Lesedi family, development has continued year on year and Lesedi Primary School now offers a full infant and junior education. Infant education consists of four years of schooling from Early Childhood Development (ECD) A to Grade 2. Junior education comprises five years from Grade 3 to Grade 7.
Over 290 children are now enrolled at Lesedi, with our child sponsorship program providing for the education and welfare of most of our learners.
Soon after starting this project, it became apparent that healthcare was also a huge issue for the communities in this area. With the nearest clinic many kilometres from Lesedi, medical treatment was not an option for many families. The vast majority of the Lesedi pupils had never seen a doctor, despite some having serious medical conditions.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of our supporters, we were able to build Lesedi Clinic in 2019. The clinic includes male and female wards, maternity/delivery rooms, pharmacy and consultation rooms. We also built an expectant mothers' cottage, providing accommodation for women during the final stages of pregnancy and ensuring they give birth at the clinic rather than in their rural homes. Lesedi Clinic is now also a vaccination centre for the local communities.
We now have a team of 22 teachers, nurses and support staff doing an incredible job transforming and saving lives at Lesedi. Our Team page includes photos of most of these wonderful individuals, all of whom work tirelessly on a daily basis to not only educate our students but also monitor their welfare, nurture them and encourage their ambitions and dreams.
Lesedi is totally reliant on private donations and our achievements to date have only been possible thanks to the generosity of our supporters. Please consider making a donation or sponsoring a child. 100% of each donation we receive is spent in full on the project, making a difference where it is needed most. If you are in the area it is also possible to visit Lesedi. Please contact us if you are interesting in supporting us or arranging a visit.