Bulawayo was put on the world map last year after musical group Liyana won an Oscar for the documentary, “Music by Prudence”. It was a great moment of pride and celebration for Zimbabweans across the globe. The music group was founded at King George VI School in Bulawayo. I recently had the privilege to tour the school with US Ambassador Charles A. Ray.
We spent the morning with the students of King George and were pleasantly welcomed by the staff and children. We visited the infant classes first and the children sang nursery rhymes and giggled at the flashing cameras that were going off.
We also had the opportunity to visit the dorms where the students are housed. We were given a tour by a 16year old O’Level student. She explained to us that although all the children who lived in her dorm were physically handicapped, they were all self sufficient and did their own cooking as well as other chores. She has aspirations of being an accountant and at the end of the tour she took out her pink digital camera and took pictures of all of us.
We continued touring the other dorms and we sent into stitches when 5year old Sibusiso stopped us to inquire if we still recalled him! He had been in the infant classes we had visited earlier and was proud to announce he had sung the loudest. After posing for a set of pictures Sibusiso and I had forged a friendship that was sure to last a lifetime.
We had the honour of visiting the school’s music centre and some of the members of Liyana performed for us! It was a wonderful performance as we sat in the brightly painted room and tapped our feet to the sound of the marimba!
My all time favourite was their rendition of the popular love song, “Malaika”. Three of the members of Liyana have received scholarships and will be travelling to the US in August to begin studying there.
I spoke to the head of the institution Mrs Hadebe who has been the headmistress since 1994. The school is government run and is both a primary school and a secondary school ending with the fourth form. The hostels where the students are housed are however privately run. The school currently accommodates 100students in its hostels.
The school although primarily reserved for children with physical disabilities, it is open to children without disabilities. The school however does not admit children with other handicaps other than physical. Before being admitted to the school all children (physically handicap and non handicap) are assessed by the in-house psychologist. The education is inclusive and the children all share the same classroom.
Mrs Hadebe shared some of the difficulties faced by the children with disabilities. Till date, Zimbabwe has not prioritized wheelchair access in public places, such as grocery stores, hospitals etc. Bulawayo is said to have had better wheel chair access in the 90S during the tenure of a mayor who was physically handicapped. However since then the building of ramps and better accessibility has not been put at the forefront.
Currently the school is in need of hall furniture as well as computers. If you are interested in making any donations contact the school via email|:firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone 230624
“assiduus usus uni rei deditus et ingenium et artem saepe vincit”. –M.Tullius Cicero (Constant practice devoted to one subject often outdoes both intelligence and skill.)