SPEECH BY THEMBENI SIGOGO ON 27 MAY 2011 AT THE GEORGE FLEMING HOUSE CENTENARY CELEBRATION COCKTAIL PARTY
I ask for your indulgence, not only to say my story, but, the story of that young lady who has stayed here for the past century, be it in 2011, 1983, 1956 or 1942.
Upon getting to the classically architectured gate of George Fleming House, my attention is fast caught by a bell.
I am new in Harare and I am riding on the wave of both hope and uncertainty about whether I will get a place to stay.
Looking around, I see no-one and suddenly it clicks that, this bell should be the modus which would guarantee my attention.
I let in my fingers and ring.
When I do so, I see a young guy slightly down the street, signal in my direction and say something. Being in a new environment, I quickly absolved in my dignified sense of being and I ignore him, not knowing that he is part of the staff, and is actually trying to communicate to me that I should use the gate further down.
As I wait, a short elderly lady appears from the great entrance of George Fleming…a woman I would soon know as Mrs. Jarvis.
She reliably informs me;
“Oh! You might be lucky…I am sure there must be a room. Come let us go and see Miss McKenzie” who I soon came to learn is the mother of eighty two (which is all the girls in Hostel).
…and this is how the journey began.
Over the year’s friendships have been built, careers have been pursued, examinations have been written and studied for.
Meals have been shared with people of all walks of life such as the girls who came from Namibia, China, South Africa and Mozambique.
George Fleming has been a safe refuge to its residents, a home away from home for both local and nationals from other countries.
It has been a place where we have been polished and groomed as young ladies who have to use fork and knife for all dinners.
It has provided a platform by which many young ladies have been propelled into the next stages of their lives.
It has been a place where if your finances were not in check, the mother of eighty two would understand and work with you for a suitable arrangement.
I thank God for George Fleming House, and I thank God for those who have over the century kept, maintained and opened up this facility for ladies such as I.
The George Fleming House Centenary Fund Raising project was officially launched at a formal cocktail evening held in Harare on 27th May 2011.
The fund kicked off with a tremendous boost of $5 000 donated by David Elman Chairman and CEO of the International Gerber Goldschmidt Group. In a congratulatory message sent from San Diego in California, David said ” As a colleague of Gary Jenkins, I have been made aware of George Fleming House and the wonderful and exemplary work done to enhance the social structure for young ladies in Harare.
I would like to add my support and my congratulations to the Board of Trustees and to the management on the Centenary and wish you happy Centenary Celebrations and many continued years of success.” Gary is a member of the Board of Trustees at George Fleming House and is the Managing Director of M.H.Goldschmidt (Pvt) Ltd in Harare, which is a member of the International Gerber Goldschmidt Group.
Tim Johnson representing the Beit Trust has also pledged to assist with a donation towards essential repairs and maintenance that are so desperately needed.