Gertrude Inspires Gertrude Inspires CREDIT: Method Design and Communications

Auckland Pre-school teacher to help HIV orphans in Zimbabwe

Thursday 10 November 2011, 7:31AM
By Method Design and Communications

Lina Chapman-Long is not only an inspiring force in pre-school education in New Zealand, but someone with a huge humanitarian capacity. This month will see her travel to Zimbabwe to help HIV orphans in a pre-school in the Mazivisa Community.

The trip will include two days in Johannesburg visiting Nelson Mandela's house and buying school supplies but the main focus is to distribute blankets to three orphanages, then help in a school with a new literacy program; Zimbabwe's literacy rate is now 20% - it used to be the highest in Africa.

The group will sink a borehole so that the school has running water; paint a new toilet block; help with building a new kitchen and catalogue the books collected for the library.

Lina is the founder and current owner of XL Preschool in Papakura and has been heavily involved in the childcare industry in South Auckland for more than 24 years. She is looking forward to her trip and has a vision to raise enough funding to educate the teachers of the school. She wants the village to be self-sufficient and to help run small businesses so everyone can have a better standard of life. Her vision is strongly aligned with Getrude Matshe (founder of Africa Alive - organiser of this trip). She also sees this experience as being a valuable learning experience for early childcare teachers, who she wants to enrol in future trips.

She went on the first Africa Alive foundation trip and wants to go again because of the personal satisfaction she receives from contributing to a project that has tremendous value. She describes some of her experiences as being life changing. Some very humbling - seeing firsthand the extreme poverty and learning a lot about how grateful the people of Mazvisa are, despite their situation. It is also a reminder about how precious life is - in the last trip Lina recalls feeding a baby that passed away a week after her return to NZ due to Aids.

Lina hopes to be able to provide more training to support Beatrice the pre-school teacher in the village. She has adopted the pre-school new entrant class. She also hopes to provide resources to the village. Her other major project on this trip is to purchase tables and chairs in South Africa and get them moved across to Zimbabwe to the village.

Getrude says "We are so excited to have Lina on board again. Her capacity to help others is inspiring to us all and her specific skills in early childhood education are invaluable in Mazivisa. There is so much work to be done there, even to get these kids the basics like pencils, paper, chairs and running water."

Lina is still trying to raise more funds to take with her. For information on how to donate, contact Getrude on