When the Jacaranda flowers are in full bloom, filling the air with a mild yet sweet scent, and they start to fall, creating a purple carpet on the Zimbabwe landscape, then teachers and students know it’s time for the O-level and A-level exams to begin. Although this season brings lots of hope for most young people, many others, including Yeukia, Nicolle, and Nyasha,
are worried as they cannot raise their exam fees. Amidst the fragrant blossoms, a shadow looms over those burdened with unpaid school fees and levies.

In this two-part series, we follow the journeys of Yeukia, Nicolle, and Nyasha—three remarkable young ladies whose lives are intertwined with the challenges of accessing education in Zimbabwe. Their stories are ones of hope and determination, from before joining Makomborero, a HALI Member in Zimbabwe, to their experiences as part of the first cohort of Makomborero interns and finally looking into their future.

Makomborero offers educational support to HALI students in Zimbabwe, including its flagship initiative launched in 2011, which provides selected students with a full scholarship to pursue the A-Level. In 2021, Makomborero Zimbabwe introduced its first male and female gap year interns, marking a new chapter in its mission. Yeukai, Nicolle, and Nyasha served as female gap year interns in 2021, 2022, and 2023 respectively. Despite their shared experience within the Makomborero Zimbabwe community, it’s remarkable to witness the different paths each young lady is creating as they all ambitiously pursue their aspirations.

Before joining Makomborero, the three ladies faced significant financial challenges. Yeukia had to sell food to afford schooling, which became more challenging as she approached her O-Level exams. Nicolle not only came from a family where income was inadequate, but as a family, they were also battling illness and facing huge medical bills. Nyasha was in her final year of O-Level when COVID-19 hit Zimbabwe. Being a day scholar meant she was heavily affected by lockdowns and had to find her learning resources and teach herself from home to supplement the classes she barely had.

The turning point came with the Makomborero scholarship, which paved the way for their A-level education. Receiving the scholarship and joining Makomborero was a redefining time for the three ladies.

Makomborero came to my rescue, and I am forever grateful for such an amazing opportunity to achieve my dreams.


Female gap year intern 2021

Yeukia, who got the scholarship and finished her O-levels in 2020, remembers her time at Makomborero as a time of learning and growing. Moving to the boarding house and a new school gave her more chances to learn about different things and meet people from other cultures.

Nicolle found solace in the close community at Makomborero. She got the Makomborero A-Level scholarship and finished her A-Levels in 2021. She describes her two years with Makomborero, Zimbabwe, as similar to being adopted into a brand-new, devoted family. She appreciated and enjoyed evenings when they would play games, the impromptu chats over meals, and annual camps.

The Makomborero A-level Scholarship allowed me to pursue a world-recognisable high school education, which enabled me to be awarded a Mastercard scholarship for my tertiary education.


Female gap year intern 2022

She also appreciates the kindness shown by staff and students and the fact that she never felt alone, especially when dealing with difficult emotions. It was a perfect opportunity for her to identify her interests and passions and broaden her horizons, particularly the understanding of and support around mental health issues. The new high school also prepared her to embrace cultural diversity.

Nyasha, too, thrived in the nurturing environment of Makomborero, balancing academics with extracurricular pursuits and forming lasting friendships. She was awarded the Makomborero A-Level scholarship and completed her A-Level in 2022.

Long and unpredictable commutes to school and inadequate lessons would have been my fate again amidst the pressures of being an A-Level student had I not been granted the Makomborero A-Level Scholarship.


Female gap year interns 2023

During her two years at Makomborero, she feels she was able to find a perfect balance between school and home life. Having plenty of books and access to teachers helped her keep up with her classes, for which she’s thankful. This allowed her to explore extracurricular activities that were out of interest rather than for transcripts. She particularly loved the incredible views of the massive yard at the boarding house where she lived during her A-Levels and getting to know her Makomborero siblings.

As their scholarship period came to a close, the three found themselves reluctant to leave the Makomborero family. Inspired by their experiences, they wanted to give back to Makomborero, and the gap year internship provided the perfect opportunity. Were there any lessons learned?