Project Zimbabwe - Tile appeal

ZimbabwetilesFrances explains why we hope to tile 3 classrooms in Zimbabwe

It was almost my last week and I spent it with the young children at the Mavambo Learning Centre. I watched the children before school trying to get rid of the dust from the concrete floors and then, using a rag, to try to polish it. As they did this, their eyes streamed with the dust and the only clothes they had were being covered in grease from the rag. It was upsetting.

The teachers were asking for tiles. I remembered Bro. David saying this on my first visit. Could this be our next project?

 I measured each classroom and then went to speak to Bro. Benjamin to arrange a quote. A man came and measured the classrooms so as to give a quote for the work. Hotfoot into Bro. Benjamin on the Fri-day morning, (I was leaving on the following Wednesday), he asked if I  had received the email with the quote. My response was “You are having a laugh”.

Armed with a list of places to buy tiles, I was off driving round Harare. Back in Alphonse House with my scale drawing and with Bro. David, we had a quote that was do-able.

With a grid to represent the tiles for each class we hope that the parish and friends would like to donate a tile for £4 and put their name (or the name of someone they want to dedicate the tile to) on the grid. When all three cards are filled in we will have enough for the project. I will take the cards over and hang them in the rooms in Zimbabwe.

Fr Barrie’s name is already on one of the tiles. The sale of the tiles began at the Garden Party on 30th June and continues at the monastery until all are sold.

There is a new website for students - the Catholic Students Network - click here

Below is a post that they shared on their facebook page featuring Matthew one of the young people who went to Zimbabwe with Frances.


Project Zimbabwe: Thanks for your support we raised £435.00 from the meal at Eton Place. The next event is a pig race on Saturday 20 January. Please save the date.

Project Zimbabwe Fundraising—there will be a meeting in the Hughes Room this Wednesday at 8.00pm. There is a leaflet in the porch recounting this years work in Zimbabwe. Click here to see photos of the 2017 trip.

'Together we can make a difference' 

'Together we can make a difference' is the phrase used by the Movambo Trust.

Thanks to your generosity Frances, Matthew, Josh and Jess have returned from Zimbabwe - after a successful trip in which they decorated 3 classrooms.

Frances has put together a booklet on the trip which is currently (Sept 2017) available in the church porch.

Frances is planning another trip next year - watch the parish bulletin and BE Alive for updates

Watch the slideshow below for a flavour of the trip

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Frances returns from Zimbabwe


Frances Sibert has returned from ZImbabwe with many tales to tell,and ideas to help the children of Zimbabwe



The video below is an amalgamation of her photos and short videos of the children in lessons, singing and making Rosary bracelets.

Watch out for another installment on Frances' trip in a future edition of  BE Alive.



Frances Sibert writes:

(This article first appwared in the April 2016 issue of BE Alive without the photos)

dscf1771Such a lot has happened in the last weeks. Fr Caspar looks after the area of Chiweshe which is about 120 km away but still in the Diocese of Harare. He looks after 15 prayer centres and one Secondary School. Each day Fr Caspar drives to the area. However, when petrol was expensive he had to rely on pastoral helpers during the week. On Sundays, he and Fr Francis each say Mass in a different centre, taking a month to get around and their cars are the mobile office/sacristy. However, this will change (he said that in 2014).

We set off for our visit. It was a beautiful drive and we talked all the way. The school facilities were worse than the last time I visited and that was bad. The number of teachers in the school has been reduced. There were 48 pupils in each class, so three pupils sat at a desk meant for two. I gave the Maths teacher some protractors and rulers. He said they hadn’t taught angles for some time because they had no equipment. The head also told me that some pupils had sat their ‘O’ Level Maths (yes it is ‘O’ Levels here) without a calculator, hence, they failed. What about the Maths lessons leading up to the exams? I could not bring myself to ask.

bracelets2The staffroom was not very big. It had four computers and no printer. We were just leaving as a class of pupils asked to come in. I was told it was their computer lesson and these were the only computers in the school.

We set off on our return journey but Fr Caspar only went a short distance then stopped the car. I thought we were going to look at the spectacular view. No, there behind some trees was a small round house under construction. It was the new house/presbytery! This cheered me up but for most of the way home, I could not speak. I was so upset by the conditions I had seen.

On Saturday mornings, the 15/16 year old parish youth have been making rosary bracelets. Unfortunately I have no more beads left (next time more beads)!

Five new postulants have joined the congregation and have started their studies on site. For a short period they have extra sessions in English which has included the completion of their application for Theology College. Five perfect applications have now been submitted and lessons continue till 4th April....

dscf1881The Way of The Cross at 5 am? Yes, it continues. However, the biggest challenge is getting dressed when there is no electricity, which is most mornings. On all the official documents for ‘The Mavambo Trust’ the footer is ‘Together we can make a difference!’ This has had me thinking. Yes, stand by for the next project.

I would like to say a big thank you for all the support and prayers that have helped me over the three months. Also, thanks to the Cullen family - ‘they made a difference’.

Watch this space for the project ‘Together we can make a difference!’

P.S. My return with the lovely Windows 10 touch-screen laptop? No chance! Some things you can only do once….. plus there are five who have a greater need here!  Frances


March 2016 Frances Sibert writes

(This article first appeared in the March dition of BE Aive without photos)

dscf1830Well, my first task was to get to the airport without forgetting anything. Mission almost accomplished. Baggage allowance 40kg, weight 44kg. Some rearranging into the laptop bag.....and minus 48 chocolate bars all is well. Spoke to Fr.Ronnie who wished me luck and gave me Fr Gideon’s mobile number. Thanks to friends, I checked in three hours before the flight. Off to pure luxury thanks to Emirates’ invitation to their welcome lounge with all it had to offer. Great flight to Dubai and after the train and bus at Dubai airport (yes it really is huge) I was in the right place for my connection. One little announcement was to spoil my happy state. ‘All passengers travelling economy class will only be allowed one piece of hand luggage or a laptop.

All passengers will be checked before boarding’. Oops. (Don’t panic).

Two parallel lines checking in for different flights! I don’t know how it happen ed. .but I was in the wrong line... So at the front I said ‘I might bein the wrong place’. Not a problem, checked in and directed to the gate.Smaller plane, c arefully placed the laptop and hand luggage in the locker and settled down for a comfortable journey.

Warm welcome from Fr.Gideon (1 of the 4 ordained priests last year). Lots of catch up on the way to where I was staying. I don’t know what happened to Wednesday but it disappeared - (I think it was the stress of the laptop). Br. Benjamin was away in Nairobi so it would be Monday before I would be at the Mavambo learning centre.

On Saturday, the Dominicans in Zimbabwe were celebrating 800 years of the order. It was a very grand affair. Fr. Raymond arrived from Nairobi to be the main celebrant. The mass took three hours with lots of singing and dancing, with well-organised refreshment for the hundreds of invited guests. Monday 6 am, morning prayer followed by Mass then drive to learning centre for 7.40. January is the start of the academic year, looking at the children who started 2 weeks ago. They looked so lost. Off to the director who explained in detail what he wanted me to do. For a brief moment I did wonder when the next plane home was. I would be given a slot in February to give a presentation to the trust on my findings/development and vision (ok so no pressure...).

First three days I was to observe the teaching etc. So off to lessons. One child near me sits down and falls backwards. I just catch her in time. No back to the chair so we change the chair. After a while I am distracted and notice a kettle with no plug, the two wires are just pushed into the socket. The day continues.

dscf1770Wednesday, just about to go into Maths but no Shona teacher arrived. The English teacher gave me their name tags and asked me to keep a eye on the class. So 16 children sit looking at me, the lesson is 90 minutes, fine........ I don’t know a word of Shona, the children can hardly speak a word of English. So off we go, eventually names are sorted, most are ok, some I can’t pronounce let alone learn. I have my tablet with me, with children’s songs on it. I am saved or am I? How about ‘head shoulders knees and toes’ good movement song? This will be fine only this is week three, they don’t do the body till week five! So the children slowly learn the words and the link with lots of laughter, then onto the song. We moved on to other songs, all following a similar pattern. It was rather like a Joyce Grenfell classroom comedy.

When I first arrived I thought the driving was really bad with cars driven all over the road and never straight. Now, behind the wheel, I do the same, avoiding huge pot holes. Late on Wednesday evening going back to where I am staying I was aware of a slight movement next to me. I was being escorted home by one of the guard dogs. I was so relieved when I closed my door.

Sadly, on the Thursday morning Fr Victor Bushu’s father died. In the evening all the Redemptorists joined him in mass. The next day I went with the brothers to Fr Victor’s family home for mass where we were joined by many parishioners and priests. After the Mass Fr Victor took his father back to his roots to be buried Saturday, I needed petrol so off I went with one of the students, Basil, just down the road. Forty minutes later and we got to the petrol station. O.K., back to drop Basil off and then off to explore. Oh no, it was not to be. A police road check - very, very common especially at the end of the week. I will not bore you with the details but I had no money and Basil argued the case and we eventually arrived back home. Off for my little trip past the road block twice and the possibly even more road blocks; I don’t think so. Early Sunday morning, I looked out of the window and saw my Wednesday evening escort; only it stood on its hind legs and ran up the tree. This was a very large monkey and there was a baby. The students said they were good monkeys. Oh yes! My windows would be closed from now on when I am out.

dscf1761Last time I was here I was aware that many children would start walking to school in the dark. I had a torch for each child with their names on. The children were so delighted but waited to be told they could open the box. They had a little play then they carefully put them back in the box. I gave the rest of the school equipment I had to the teachers.

Later a local farmer came to ask the teachers if they wanted a chicken. One said yes and with that he put his hand in the bag and took out a squawking chicken with its feet tied together. I didn’t ask any questions but this was a new take on fresh chicken.

Last Sunday I went to Mass at Borrowdale and was intrigued by the offertory. Pots, pans, mugs and food for the community were also brought up. When I mentioned this to Br Benjamin he said that on special occasions they also get a goat. At Br Brian’s ordination to the deaconate, the Bishop got the goat.

During the evening meal Fr Joseph told me about the Way of the Cross he was having at the parish at 5.00 each day and invited me to come along. I agreed and just as he left he said he would see me at 4.40 in the morning. .... (O.K., I forgot there are two 5 o’clocks in a day).



When we arrived there were well over 200 people a real cross-section of the parish. I only calculated this at the end when it was light. The service was truly amazing. It was held outside and led by parishioners, though it was started and finished by Fr . The altar servers, yes five of them, guided the way as people walked behind. The stations had been taken off the walls in church and each was held up in turn with a torch shone on it. Fr Tim, don’t get any ideas, stations like this would not work in Bishop Eton or St Mary’s, we would not get the stations off the wall.....

Please remember Fr Victor and his family in your prayers.

 Best Wishes from Zimbabwe

Project Zimbabwe - BE Alive February 2016

Thank you to all who bought Gift Cards for Christmas and gave donations— over £1,000 was sent to the Brother Benjamin Feeding Project and other initiatives.

Please pray for them and for Frances Sibert, who is currently out there helping and seeing where more help is needed. She will report on her return.

Meanwhile, please support the Table Sale on Saturday 27 February in the Fisher-More Hall. Tables cost £10– to book contact Pat Beggs on 07811 462 639.

On the day there will be a Raffle, so any donations would be gratefully received, and there will be teas and coffees on sale. If you don’t want a table but would like to help in any other capacity, selling Raffle tickets or teas and coffees, please contact Pat to offer your services.

And if you can’t help on the day please call in and see if you can pick up a bargain on one of the tables whilst enjoying some refreshments. All proceeds go directly to Project Zimbabwe—no middlemen!


Brother Peter sends us a special message as we enjoy our Parish Celebration in aid of Project Zimbabwe


To see pictures of the Parish Celebration click here