Mechanics for Africa
Mechanics for Africa (MfA) is a training school for motor mechanics based in Ndola, Zambia. It was set up in 2003 by a young couple from Surrey, Charlie and Sharonne Watt with the active support of their Milford Baptist Church which they attended. Charlie and Sharonne had worked with an NGO in Zambia and wanted to use their particular skills help young people who live in desperate poverty to get a vocational training and improve their chances of getting work. MfA is a registered charity in both the UK and Zambia.
MfA’s current Chief Executive is Harry Weld-Forester. His wife Sarah is the Academic Manager. They live with their two young children on the college’s campus in Ndola, Zambia. The college employs twenty local staff and managers.
Most of the funding for the college is provided by individuals in the UK sponsoring the students. All the UK and Zambian trustees are volunteers. We separately raise money to cover our modest UK costs, so 100% of the money raised from our students’ sponsors and public appeals goes to support the charity’s work in Zambia.
Our aim is for an increasing proportion of costs to come from trading income within Zambia. MfA’s commercial workshop is our main surplus-generating activity.
From 16 students at the start in 2003, MfA has expanded and at present we have ninety students studying a two-year course which leads to an internationally-recognised City and Guilds qualification. This particular qualification is bering discontinued, so we are now transitioning to a two-year course provided by Zambia’s own training standard body, TEVETA.
MfA has developed a strong local reputation and there generally have been 200 or so applications for an annual intake of around 45 students. A recent grant from the Beit Trust has been used to extend our classrooms and buildings and we plan to increase student numbers to 100 for 2021.
The college is registered with the Zambian ministry of vocational education (TEVETA) and has their outstanding rating. The success of our teaching is simply expressed in the fact that in 2018 UK City & Guilds examinations 100% of MfA students passed every single paper, most with credits and distinctions. This compares with a City & Guilds worldwide average pass rate of 52%.
We mainly teach motor mechanics, but what sets us apart from other technical colleges is that life skills are an integral part of our curriculum – communication, conflict resolution, interview skills, CV writing. We teach computing and first aid, and bring in experts to teach nutrition and sexual health as well as sustainable small-scale agriculture which is an important contributor to local diets.
We are a Christian college, although you don’t have to be a Christian to apply, We do what we do because we take Christ seriously when he says “The first and greatest commandment is this: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second greatest is this: love others as you love yourself…” (Matthew chapter 22). One our aims is to help our students develop strong foundations of ethics, hard work, and discipline.
We focus on mentoring the individual, and through those individuals we hope to impact the wider families and communities of Zambia as our students graduate from MfA as men and women of good character and great potential.