Vimbai’s vision: A book for every child

Using the meagre resources that she earned from her business as a knitting machine mechanic, Vimbai Zinyemba bought 100 textbooks in 2009.

Vimbai Zinyemba: a book can change a life.
Vimbai Zinyemba: a book can change a life.

Although the books were not intended for any particular school at that time, Zinyemba was positive they would serve a worthy purpose in the near future. Her belief was fulfilled barely two months later, when she received a phone call from a councillor in Mutoko South.

“There was desperation in his voice which prompted me to act swiftly,” said Zinyemb. Within the next month, she had visited Hurumutumbu primary school and was shocked at the learning conditions there.

“The pupils sat on bricks and did not have any exercise or textbooks,” she said. She gave the books she had bought to the school, via the relevant authorities and set about forming the Hope of Life Foundation with six other people.

“My colleagues have since abandoned the project because they expected returns from it and this was not so, so they left and I am all alone,” said Zinyemba, who is forging ahead with her vision to bridge the gap between urban and rural students.

She said she was motivated by having grown up as the eldest in a family of 10. “I never got a good education because girls were not afforded the opportunity to go to school the way that boys did, but this did not limit me,” said Zinyemba.

As a young child, she was often angry because her grandmother would invite strangers for a meal. “I would challenge her because I felt that these people were finishing our food,” said Zinyemba.


But this perception changed as she grew older. “My grandmother instilled in me a seed of sharing which then grew and made me realise that I have the potential to share and give others no matter how little I had,” she said.

Zinyemba said she has always valued the philosophy that people must not be limited to mediocrity and take comfort in saying that because they did not go to school or that because their parents did not do this or that for them, they are failures.

“Assisting others is something that all of us are capable of doing. In our own small ways, we can change other people’s lives and shape their future,” said Zinyemba.


She envisions a time when she is able to build, run and maintain a big library deep in rural Mutoko.

“To be who I am, I am motivated by the passion to achieve and reach greater heights just like I was inspired by people such as Kubi Indi,” said Zinyemba.

A class two driver with certificates in graphic designing, tailoring and mechanics in knitting machines among others, Zinyemba said she sought education as a grown woman because she valued the importance of learning new skills and knowledge. “No one is too old to learn. Uneducated as I am, I look forward to the day when I will look in the rear view mirror of a big truck full of books destined for this big library,” said Zinyemba.

“The library should not only benefit children but school leavers, parents, teachers and the community.”

Book beggar

Due to her book mobilising techniques, Zinyemba is now known in her community as the ‘book beggar’. “Everyone is a potential donor,” she said, emphasizing the importance for citizens to ensure that they do not destroy or burn books.

“Ensuring the provision of a book for every child is possible if as communities we work towards that goal. We want that situation where a maximum of two children will share a book.”

She challenged people not to destroy books, arguing that every book has the potential to change someone’s life. “Those that you consider as old are valued as new to the needy. I am challenging Zimbabweans to donate whatever they have because that is how we are able to change our world,” said Zinyemba.

Hope of Life Foundation has also taken under its wings more than 21 orphans and vulnerable children for whom it pays school fees.

“The major challenge that this organisation faces is that the roads are very poor to the extent that every time that we want to make a donation, we have to hire a car,” said Zinyemba.

At Hurumutumbu Primary School in Mutoko South district, the organisation has donated hundreds of exercise books, covers and chairs after establishing that the children were sitting on bricks while attending their lessons.

Teachers at the school have no chairs in their classrooms and the infrastructure is dilapidated because it was built in 1984 and has not received a facelift ever since.

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