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From Stevenage to Kadoma – Architecture for Good

At NorDan, we take our social responsibilities seriously, and welcome any opportunity to contribute to making the world a better place. This value is also reflected in the incredible individuals that make up our team. Today we will take you through the story of how our very own Tom O'Sullivan travelled across the world to visit an orphanage he helped design in the town of Kadoma, Zimbabwe.

The Story So Far...

You may be wondering ‘why Kadoma?’ Well, the answer to this question lies back in 1989 when the town of Stevenage, England formed a civic link with Kadoma resulting in the creation of the SKLA (Stevenage Kadoma Link Association). Mainly set up for charitable reasons, the relationship between the two towns has blossomed since 1989 and, to this day, both councils have a strong relationship with each other.

The town of Stevenage often holds bake sales, bingo nights, car-boot sales, curry & quiz nights, and garden parties, all with the intention of raising money for Kadoma. Throughout the years, members of the Stevenage Community such as teachers, pastors and athletes have visited Kadoma to meet the locals and grow the bond between the two towns, and one such local was NorDan Technical Specification Advisor, Tom O’Sullivan.

Tom’s Story

With a background in Architectural Design focused on humanitarian projects in West Africa, Tom had the right knowledge and skills to help design the much-needed orphanage to serve the Kadoma community. But arranging the funds, materials and logistics of the project were another story entirely.

Thankfully, the generous support of the people of Stevenage, combined with the ingenuity of Tom and his friend in selflessly offered their professional architectural services to projects in the UK in exchange for donations, ensured that the funds required for the project were secured.

So far, Tom has visited Kadoma twice, staying with local families to immerse himself in their vibrant culture. With each trip lasting around 2 weeks, days are mainly spent filled with design, conversation, and visiting local sites of interest like the incredible Victoria Falls.

He had the pleasure of visiting the orphanage he had helped to make reality during his first visit, which he described as “an incredibly gratifying, humbling and joyful experience.”

His second trip was made with the purpose of helping to design a second building project for Kadoma, this time a community centre. Tom helped with the design and drawings while working under the leadership of close friend Andy Hills, the project architect and mastermind of the operation.

And there’s another trip to come! Tom will be jetting off again this month, October 2022, and we can’t wait to hear from him on his return.

The Orphanage

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The orphanage project was a monumental success, resulting in a safe, modern building capable of housing up to 30 children.

Without the orphanage there to support local children, their outcomes would be significantly poorer. There is very little state support for orphaned children in Zimbabwe, with less than 6000 children in a formal care situation like institutions or registered foster care homes.

The majority of orphaned children are living in extended family or kinship situations, but those without a strong family network, such as those impacted by AIDS or Covid-19, can find themselves in an incredibly challenging scenario.

Since staying at the orphanage, the children have gone from strength to strength, with improvements in both social and academic areas bolstered by the structure of living in a stable home environment. At NorDan, we’ve been able to lend our own support by funding a year of tuition for each of the children, and we thank Tom for allowing us the opportunity to get involved.

What Now?

While great progress has already been made in improving the conditions of those living in Kadoma, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.

The village needs a second borehole to facilitate the supply of fresh drinking water, which is crucial in an environment where transmissible diseases like dysentery thrive.

One particularly pressing need is financial support for one of their children, who has been studying for her upcoming Zimsec exams in November. Sadly, she’s had a lot of disruption in her education due to school closures in 2020 during the pandemic and teachers’ strikes in 2021. She requires remedial lessons to prepare for the exams, which cost roughly USD$60 per month.

The team are also looking to resuscitate the memorandum of understanding that was once in place with Kadoma Vocational Centre, so that the children will be able to learn important skills to help them gain employment in future. This is critical for those children that are less academically skilled, but the costs can be prohibitive at GBP£40 per course.

If you’re able to help, please get in touch with the Stevenage-Kadoma Link Association, who can be reached through email or Facebook:

NorDan & Corporate Social Responsibility; What is Important to Us?

It’s important to us that we use the platform that we’re privileged to have as a large organisation to make positive change in the world. That’s why, in addition to the funds promised for the tuition of the children in Kadoma, NorDan carries out many different corporate social responsibility activities year-round.

Between the company itself and our dedicated team members, we’ve been involved in MacMillan Coffee Mornings, Movember, charity golf days and more.

We’re also pleased to be an annual donation towards the incredible ongoing work of Save the Children UK, as well as an extraordinary donation to support their work in Ukraine. Our team had the pleasure of a Zoom introduction to the charity to hear how our contribution will help to support the amazing work they do in improving the lives of children all over the globe.

At NorDan, we’re lucky to be surrounded by many selfless and generous people, who choose to donate their time to support a variety of causes close to their hearts.

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