By Br. Alfonce Kugwa
Gokwe Diocese is a Church on the move as witnessed by numerous developmental projects lined up for the local church. The diocese has come of age in self-supporting, self-propagating and self-ministering efforts. A visit to the diocese and a tour of some projects revealed that the diocese has great potential to transform the lives of people in the surrounding communities. When Bishop Rudolf Nyandoro took over, Gokwe Diocese already showed positive signs of maturity from the well laid foundation by his two predecessors. Today, the diocese continues to shape up with faith in action. Self-reliance projects, schools and new missions serve as evangelizing tools for the diocese that places people at the centre. With the country’s failing economy and people’s loss of trust in the government, the only hope for the people of Gokwe lies in the diocese’s initiatives that are pro-poor in nature.
The Diocese of Gokwe has lined up different self-reliance projects which according to Bishop Nyandoro are meant to enable the sustenance of the local Church and to improve people’s livelihoods. Topical among these projects is the Garage which is already functional, servicing the diocesan fleet and those from the neighbouring community. Bishop Nyandoro said they were working flat out to put up a service station as a way of supporting the diocese.
The garage which is located within the premises of St. Paul Secondary School yard also benefits school children who study motor mechanics. A mechanics teacher at St. Paul’s Secondary, Mr. Graciano Gwenya said motor mechanics was introduced at the school in 2014 at National Foundation Certificate (NFC). According to Mr. Gwenya, the purpose of introducing motor mechanics at the school is to equip learners with skills which are necessary in the motor industry.
“This also helps to create self-employment for school leavers who will work as mechanics making it possible for them to earn a living. The interesting aspect is that both boys and girls are studying this important subject. The first group had 29 learners with seven girls and the second group had 37 with eight girls. This initiative by the Diocese is very important for the community,” said Mr. Gwenya.
Second among the diocesan projects is the booming bookshop located right in the middle of Gokwe town. The bookshop provides stationary and literature to parishioners and schools in and around Gokwe. Available in the bookshop are sacramentals, vestments, spiritual books, text and exercise books and uniforms for school children and guilds.
The bookshop also houses the Diocesan Social Communications Commission which operates under the same roof. The diocese is in the process of establishing an e-library in the bookshop as a way of benefiting university students who need to research on different disciplines as well as catechists and those working with children.
Education is an important tool for enlightenment and empowerment. It is the route to poverty eradication and emancipation from ignorance. Education is important for the development of character and formation of conscience. For this, the Catholic University in Zimbabwe opened a campus in Gokwe Diocese at Shingai Training Centre with the hope of building relevant structures a few kilometres from Gokwe town along Kwekwe road. In the same token, a second low cost boarding school has been opened at Amai Vetsitsi/Nemangwe High school to cater for learners who live far from the school. The facility which is for both boys and girls is the second one after St. Francis Xavier in Mateta 2.
Bishop Nyandoro attested that: “Low cost boarding facility is meant to assist learners as schools in Gokwe are far spaced from each other. People would like their children to learn at Catholic schools and it is important that we offer such facilities to the local community. Also students in Gokwe walk very long distances to access education and as such Low Cost Boarding cushion parents in terms of the security of their children while it also cushions learners to study at a comfortable zone.”
The advantage of LCB according to Bishop Nyandoro is that they are affordable and improves the quality of education for rural children.
The Headmaster of Nemangwe High School, Mr. Alfonce Mugabe confirmed that LCB is important especially for students who walk long distances to access education. He said the furthest students travel more than 16km to the school and this compromises their education as they will be tired to concentrate in their studies. Other advantages of a Low Cost Boarding according to Mr. Mugabe are that:
- The facility has improved the pass rate especially of girls at the school.
- LCB offers opportunities for learners to study during the night and on weekends under the supervision of the superintendents.
- Has reduced the vulnerability of the girl child to abuse given that before the opening of the facility at the school, learners used to stay at the shopping centre and few of them completed their studies or passed as the rate of abuse was high.
- Raises the esteem for the learners which also influences good behaviour.
- Opens up opportunities for upgrading the school into an A’Level status.
- Increases the number of catholic students at the school.
As communities in Gokwe realize the importance of Catholic Education, calls are being made for the Diocese to acquire more schools formerly run by local councils. Parents feel that there is value and quality education in Catholic schools, hence there are many take up requests from communities and that will see more schools coming under the supervision of the Diocese.
So far the diocese has acquired Masawi, Gwave, and Chegama Primary Schools as well as Sawi Secondary School and the response from the parents has been overwhelming according to Bishop Nyandoro.
In 2016 Gokwe Diocese had 17 mission stations and Bishop Nyandoro has raised the number to 22. As the diocese progresses in evangelization five more missions have been opened which are St. Mary’s Nyika in Jiri area which is an offshoot of Sengwa Mission, Huchu Masuka which opened this year and was created from Amai Vetsitsi Gwave, St. Fidelis Makore that came from St. Joseph Nembudziya and was opened in 2018, St Paul’s Chevecheve which opened in 2018 is an offspring of St. Mary’s Tongwe while St. Mary’s Mother of Peace based at the Diocesan Shrine was weaned from Uganda Martyrs and partly Gwave Mission.
Many people in areas of the new missions appreciate the initiative by the diocese which they say paves way for more development in Gokwe. They vowed to support the new structures being put up in the diocese. The opening of more missions has resulted in the creation of the fifth deanery (Eastern Deanery) comprising of St. Mary’s Tongwe, St. Paul’s Chevecheve and St. Clare Gwanyika.
St. Mary’s Nyika already run cattle, piggery and chicken projects to support the new mission while at Huchu Masuka plans to build a priest’s house are underway. The upcoming Makore Mission runs Batsirai Secondary School while a priest’ house is being built for the resident priest. Currently the priest resides at Nembudziya Mission. According to Bishop Nyandoro, the new missions have extra-ordinary enthusiasm of developing into vibrant centres of faith. At Chevecheve, the community is building a church and they are on the way to giving Chevecheve Primary and Secondary schools currently owned by the local council.
The strides being made by the Diocese of Gokwe point in the right direction towards bringing the church to the people and building a church that embraces all by taking development to the remote areas. It is these people who need the church’s best services such as health, education, spiritual advancement and improved livelihoods because it is in them that the church finds its strength.