There is a great need for the vocational training centre (vtc) at Siriba as so many of the young people in this area have no skills or training in anything at all and so the future is very bleak.
I have been to the town of Bweyale some 2km away to talk to some of the young people who had successfully found work. Not surprisingly, most local people are aware of the activities of the vtc and were able to direct me to former students who have now found work. I will briefly describe just two of them:
Bosco is aged 27 and started his own joinery business some two years after a full time course at the vtc. Although he is busy he is finding it difficult to earn enough to pay himself a modest wage after paying rent for his workshop. He is planning to go into partnership in order to share overheads and promote himself.
Then there is Susan, a 28 year old single mother. She also took a full time course and is now self employed doing tailoring jobs within the local community. She usually earns £1 per day and is always smiling! She pays rent for her sewing machine as she has been unable to save the £50 necessary to buy a second hand one.
Without our help these young people would simply not have a job at all. So the vtc not only helps the local economy but it also greatly increases the self esteem of many young people like Bosco and Susan. We are grateful for your ongoing support.
In these days following the death of our long-term project co-ordinator Geoff Burnett, it is very important to reinforce the links and ensure the continuity of this project. He's a hard act to follow! Geoff was such an enthusiast, and devoted to the people of Benin. Indeed, when our next volunteers go out in September, they have agreed to take out some of his ashes to scatter on the banks of the River Oueme which meant so much to him. Our African partners too are much moved by this gesture.
Geoff's extremely valuable work in support of vulnerable and under-priviledged children continues, with 164 currently being helped, of whom 104 are in school, 28 in 'seconde cycle' (sixth form), 20 in apprenticeships and 12 in university. Nigel England our new co-ordinator will be visiting and getting to know them in the autumn.
Dick Wheelock will be spending time there too again, using his agricultural engineering skills and experience as well as some new parts to help keep the tractor working hard. A drill for assisting with the planting of maize will be in his luggage!
Meanwhile construction work on the Affame children's residential centre 'Chez Papa Geoff' is proceeding well. The shell of the building is complete as is the exterior rendering, the ceilings are up, wiring is under way and just painting remains before the building comes fully to life and children can start to move in later this year.
We look forward to the next steps and hope honestly and appropriately to be able for long into the future to make a really positive difference in the lives of many needy children. Thank you for your help, and please continue to support us in our work!
It is now 21 years since Lynda and I set up HANDS AROUND THE WORLD (HATW) on our return from a wonderful and challenging year spent in Zambia. In August we will be holding a party in Monmouth to celebrate with some of our 500+ past volunteers and supporters. Especially we will be celebrating that HATW is happily now able to help more than 2500 children and young people every day.
Many of the poorest children who survive in Africa are orphans. And there are 25 million orphaned children in Africa today; many live without adults in child-headed households, and are hungry every day. More than a million (10% of the population) in Zambia alone! Will they survive? What sort of adults will they become? Of course we need to help more!
About 15 years ago I was privileged to meet Mrs. Veronica Sianga, one of this world’s extra special people. She made a huge impression on me. A lovely ‘mamma’, whilst employed as community outreach worker at Monze Mission Hospital (acting as a combination of hospice nurse, social worker and district nurse) she rapidly found herself coping with hundreds of children being bereaved by HIV/AIDS. She set up PIZZ, a wonderful project, caring for them as individuals and meeting their numerous needs – love, food, clothing, housing, schooling and more. Now retired from the hospital, she continues to make an enormous difference. The project is doing well, and we have been very impressed by the enthusiasm and motivation of the local team; but as the needs are great and our aim is to achieve a lasting positive change in the lives of these children, we at HATW are naturally very keen to do more. Would you kindly help?
Currently we provide school meals to children there (at a cost of just over £1 per child per month), and each month send £1725 for carers’ and teachers’ wages and other running costs. We urgently need to raise about £20,000 to cover the next year.
Lunches at PIZZ are simple, consisting principally of fortified maize meal or rice, but the benefits in terms of health, alertness, school attendance and performance since we started the feeding programme in 2013 have been dramatic! More than 20 children did exceptionally well in Grade 7 and Grade 9 exams, and one former student Mawini M (pictured here) has just started studying medicine at Lusaka University with our help!
HATW has several partner projects in Africa and India, where we strive hard to develop centres of excellence, helping them towards self-sustainability through growing food and various income-generating projects, including seeking local support.
Thank you for reading my personal appeal. There are also opportunities to visit PIZZ if you wish – just let me know! HATW Annual Report / Accounts can be viewed on the Charity Commission website, or I will happily send you a copy.
With very best wishes,