Mission team returns to Africa University beginnings
by Andra Stevens
A mission team from Iowa returned to where it all began -- dilapidated farmhouses -- to get Africa University ready for the masses coming to celebrate the school's first decade.
"For me, it's a privilege to work with the folks of Zimbabwe, whether it is using a striker to cut grass in order to paint a wall, or holding a baby in the Fairfield Orphanage or consulting with the Africa University Counseling service," says Bob Hoover, a retired pastor from Solon, Iowa.
Hoover, a member of a 15-person Volunteers in Mission team from the Iowa Annual Conference, is at work on the campus of the United Methodist-related university. He and about six of his fellow team members are back where the church's Volunteers in Mission support for Africa University began. They are sprucing up old campus buildings on the farm in readiness for the official celebration of Africa University's 10th anniversary in November.
"The old campus is where Africa University came to life in March 1992 and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission played such an important role in our beginning," says Professor Rukudzo Murapa, the school's vice chancellor. "They came to this valley when we had nothing but dilapidated farm structures, and they helped us turn them into classrooms and a lab and library so we could open our doors to that very first group of students."
Africa University has grown from 40 students studying in two faculties (departments) in 1992, to close to 800 students studying in five faculties today. A sixth faculty, for health sciences, will be launched this year with enrollment in 2003. It will include programs of nursing, environmental and public health and health sciences. Teaching and administrative staff members number more than 200, and the campus boasts 18 academic and other buildings.
The Iowa team is painting and doing minor repairs on the small thatched rondavel that used to be the registrar's office and on the buildings that once housed Africa University's first two faculties, agriculture and theology.
Though much of the teaching and research now take place in the newer, better-equipped facilities built during the past 10 years, those first buildings are still an integral part of the university's mission. The old agriculture laboratory, located on the university farm, serves as an outreach clinic for local farmers. Other buildings are used for student work and farm activities.
The school hopes to develop its own archive center on the site.
In preparation for the 10th anniversary celebration, the university is staging a series of events throughout the year. Those include:
*Stevens is coordinator for Africa University's 10th anniversary celebration.
Date posted: Jun 28, 2002