Phikelela ECD Centre, Sawmills

Asked to find water at newly built SDA churches in the Nyamandlhlovu/Tsholotsho area, we left Bulawayo very early, intending to begin with Sawmills. It’s a long way and mostly on dirt roads.

I dropped the survey team off and headed off to take photographs. I made it about 50m down the road:Phikelela ECD Centre, Sawmills

I came across group of kids, gathered on the side of the road, poking at the cut away where the grader had exposed layers of different coloured soils. Of course I stopped and asked if I could record their activities on video!

Here is the link!

I’d found someone who spoke my language! She clearly had her charges’ interests at heart and has great enthusiasm and verve. We all piled into the Hilux and drove to their classroom!

… and it only goes to show, that great facilities don’t necessarily equal a great education. Phikelela ECD Centre, SawmillsMany would call these kids poor! I don’t. They spend the morning with Ms Dube, a truly great teacher and then go home to their families – where they learn by experience. No devices: cellphones, iPads or play-stations!

In the classroom, I found paintings on the walls, labeled pictures, wire cars to play with during break time! Music drums made from old tins, guitars from hollowed out wood. And all of this in a room with no ceiling and crumbling plaster.Phikelela ECD Centre, SawmillsI was impressed, and that is not an emotion I feel very often. I am a teeny tiny perfectionist!! And I can sniff a fellow perfectionist out a mile off!Sawmills

I couldn’t get to sleep that night working out the logistics of sending back paper, pens, and especially PAINTS!!! I l love colour. I’m going to get my nieces to paint pictures on plywood and cut them into jig saw puzzles.

A new door would be great! The metal shrieking against the pole door frame was annoying. (I have some spare planks left over from renovating our house.) I bet the roof leaks!

I often read posts where people ponder what to do, about Africa, environmental degradation, overpopulation. I always know, the answer is education. This is our hope for the future. It’s the only way, and with more teachers like Ms Dube it can happen.


Sawmills has always been on our to do list – the reason – it was an important stop for steam trains, back in the day, because there were two huge diameter (yes a whopping 62cm) boreholes that supplied water to the trains passing by. These boreholes were of strategic importance and a man was stationed there permanently to maintain them. Rumour has it that he was slight of stature and when it was time to maintain the pumps, he would lower himself down into the borehole to check the casing and water levels. Eeuuw!


Yup – he went down that hole – just took out those four bolts and climbed in! (Lets hope the story is just that…a story!)


Sawmills station house, today

Of course now, large amounts of water are no longer required, and Sawmills is merely a mark on the map, next to the railway line.


Sawmills compound

But alotta people lived here back in the day!

Can’t miss those government houses, can you?


Railway line just before the Unguza bridge

Several geophysical studies have been done in the area to identify why there is so much water at Sawmills. It’s all rather complicated, but the bottom line is that feature that brings the water close to the surface there, isn’t present at the church where we were asked to find water

I think this is a slag heap from the steam-trains

I think this is a slag heap from the steam-trains

Pump house

Pump house


Rodents with tails? Maybe so, but I love to watch them. This one, dropped in for a quick visit while we were drinking our early morning coffee at Sinamatella CampsquirrelsquirrelOops – that big eye, staring at me!

Ive noticed, I can watch animals for ages, but pick up the camera, and they immediately see the “big eye” staring at them. Evolution, I guess!

Sinamatella Camp (Hwange National Park)

Sinamatella camp, perched all along the edge of an escarpment, overlooks a stream where I sat for hours watching game come and go, far below. This pic (below) was taken shortly after the sun sank below the horizon:Sinamatella Camp

(I watched it come up too, the following morning!)Sinamatella CampThe restaurant:Sinamatella CampSunrise:Sinamatella CampSunset:Sinamatella CampSinamatella Camp