After United Methodists in Maryland offered him hope and a chance to succeed, Albert Mashambanhaka, 22, started paying it forward. His ministry — Partners for Success — reaches more than 250 secondary-level boarding school students from Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe District in northern Zimbabwe. The students attend Mashambanhaka Secondary Mission School.
Mashambanhaka credits much of his academic success to David Grant Booney, a member of Smithville United Methodist Church in Dunkirk, Maryland.
“Booney realized my hard work,” Mashambanhaka recalled. “Out of love, he decided to give me support as well as a chance for me to achieve my status and identity together.” The congregation provided financial support for Mashambanhaka and six other students, he said.
“Through boarding school and beyond,” Booney said, “they received hope, and through faith and the grace of God, they thrived and ventured into great things.”
All 10 mentors have completed studies at Bindura University of Science and Technology or the University of Zimbabwe. They tutor in business management, chemistry, law and music, peace and governance, psychology, media (radio/film/television) production and social work.
Through interactive group discussions, the Partners for Success team encourages students to learn by listening, questioning and sharing their life experiences.
Focusing on career guidance, mentor Admire Vurayai noted the importance of choosing a profession that matches one’s personality and skills.
"Vurayai emphasized choosing the proper combination and encouraged [us] to desist from various pressures, which can persuade one to the choose wrong combination,” said Leona Marowa, who walks more than eight miles to and from school each day.
“I have been motivated,” she added. “I want to be a doctor.”
Future nurse Mitchel Kondo, 18, said mentor Kelly Muronzi inspired him. “I am going to work hard in my science subjects,” he vowed. “I have understood what goal-setting entails, its importance and working hard.”
Lawrence Evidence Chausa offered advice on avoiding and overcoming barriers that may prevent people from achieving goals, and Patience Nyarambi stressed study skills.
Sithembiso Mutukura, “Miss Albinism Zimbabwe 2018,” spoke to the students about healthy adult relationships. She said parents play a pivotal role by discouraging teen sexual activity that may lead to marriage before young adults are ready.
The emphasis on discipline, hard work, punctuality and setting positive examples impressed student Gamuchirai Divah Nhire.
Media mentor Luckmore Taruvinga, 20, called the sessions “a great experience,” expressing thanks “for making me put into practice what I learned at the university.”
“I never thought we were going to have such an auspicious event, graced by such dignitaries,” said Norest Matambanadzo. “When planning, we usually confine ourselves to small things, but the visit was a prodigious event which marked the birth or realization of the potential we have.
“Implied is the fact that, with the support we got from all stakeholders, our mission [of] providing an interactive platform toward the transformation of lives can be spread across the whole district, province and nation at large.” He thanked Booney, Zimbabwe West Annual Conference education secretary the Rev. Solomon Mawoyo, the bishop and all “who assisted financially or socially.”
School development chair Nickson Chiropa said Mashambanhaka leads by example. “Keep up the hard work,” he said. “With your Partners for Success, motivate and inspire more students.”
Partners for Success foundation representative Emmanuel Bandason, 21, presented donated goods worth $600 which included a printer as well as office and hygiene supplies.
Mission school headmaster Ketai Nyabote said, “The gifts will continue to inspire and remind us of the friendship that was started by our beloved David Booney and the Volunteer in Mission team from Smithville United Methodist Church.” The congregation, which helped to build the secondary school, also supports Partners for Success through prayer.
“This gesture of love shown by the former students returning to their bases has been very motivational to the current students at Mashambanhaka Secondary School,” said the Rev. Alan Gurupira, administrative assistant to Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa. “This has been a clear testimony on the ability of other students to excel and emulate the achievements of their own. Indeed, such career guidance initiatives are applauded.”
Kumuterera is a communicator with the Zimbabwe West Conference.
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