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On another mission . . . Roxy Pitchford will retun to Luhwade Primary School later in the year to build a playground for the school's 360 children. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

by Alexia Johnston

A South Canterbury woman will bring more Kiwi “can-do” spirit to an African school this year.

Roxy Pitchford, who has already helped build a classroom at Luhwade Primary School in Zimbabwe, will return in about September to add a playground.

Ms Pitchford, a teacher at Geraldine High School, first visited the African village three years ago, keen to explore the area.

She requested the opportunity to visit a school, but due to cultural challenges the idea was not immediately welcomed.

“It took them quite a while to agree to it.”

Any hesitation they once had has now diminished and has been replaced with a strong bond.

When Ms Pitchford returned to the school last year, it was her mission to build an extra classroom after realising up to 55 children were being crammed into each class.

To ease the pressure, some children would venture outside to work under the shade of a tree, she said.

“I didn’t realise the impact of it until I went over there,” she said.

Ms Pitchford’s ongoing support has given everyone at the school hope.

“I realised it was way more than just a classroom for them.”

To support her African missions, Ms Pitchford started a non-registered charity called KSAY, which stands for Kiwis Supporting African Youth.

The charity will help Ms Pitchford fund Luhwade Primary School’s upcoming playground project.

While it was not going to be an extravagant structure, it would add an element of fun and entertainment for the children, she said.

Their main playground activity up until now has involved rolling two large tractor tyres around the school grounds, which all of the school’s 360 children chase.

Ms Pitchford credits the support of the South Canterbury community for making the projects happen.

The aim was to help the children enjoy being children, she said.

“It’s one final mission for this village.”

To help with the playground project a fashion show fundraiser will be hosted at Preen on May 3 at 7pm.