Minchinhampton - Nkokoto Link - February 2017

As readers will know, the Link sponsors 12 students at the Folk Development College (the FDC) at Urambo. (Urambo is ten miles from Nkokoto so most of the students live in at the college.) The 2014 – 16 group of six students finished their course in December and have been presented with a leaving toolkit from the Link. These tool kits comprise of a sewing machine each plus materials, thread, etc., for the four students completing their needlework/tailoring course and a woodwork tool kit for the two boys who finished their carpentry course. The cost of these tool kits is approximately 2,800,000 Tz shillings. This is about £1,000 in total - £170 per student, expensive but giving each student the opportunity to set themselves up with a trade and income, something not possible without the sponsorship given them by the Minchinhampton Nkokoto Link, and of course only possible because of the generosity of the sponsors and our supporters.) We plan to keep track of these “graduating” students to see how they use their qualifications and trade but as they don’t always stay living in their home village, this isn’t always possible. Stima took photos of the ceremony but unfortunately, when he was sending them to me from the internet café in Urambo, the assistant pressed the delete button by mistake!

We have received from Stima the list of pupils who finished at Nkokoto Primary School in December (the Tanzanian school year begins in January and ends in December) and will be sponsored by the Link for their four years at secondary school. These “children” are aged 13 or 14 so we respectfully call them “students!” The process of choosing which young people are to be sponsored is done very carefully by the Head teacher of Nkokoto Primary School, the Head of the secondary school, the Village Chairman and Stima, looking at each student’s progress, achievement and attitude towards learning, so that those who have most potential to do well in their secondary education are chosen for the sponsorship scheme. Now that the Government pays the fees for secondary school students, our sponsorship covers the costs of school uniforms, a pair of shoes (you would be astonished at how many students had no shoes to wear to school!) and any writing equipment and materials not supplied by the school. The cost of this calculates at approximately 140,000Tzshillings/£50 per student, excellent value for investing in their future. This year, there are six boys and two girls in our new sponsored year group.

Of course, as one new year begins in January at the school, it means that the fourth year students will have already left in December. We wish them well and hope they achieve their aspirations in adulthood. Sponsors whose students have now finished at the school will have been contacted by me by now to ask if they will be happy to transfer their sponsorship to one of the first year students.
The FDC student sponsorship scheme costs more. Each of the twelve students in the two years who are sponsored by the Link cost 310,000Tzshillings/£110.00 per year, because this cost covers both their education and their residential charges. The new year group comprises of four girls studying needlework/tailoring and two boys, either on the mechanics, electrical or woodworking course.

The Gerry Robbins “Murder Mystery Plays” are on Friday March 3rd and Saturday 4th at 7.30 p.m. in the Minchinhampton Market Hall. Tickets are £10 each and the Link catering team are planning that the inclusive evening meal will, as you will all expect, be linked to the theme of the play! Tickets are available at the Market Stores or from one of the Nkokoto Committee members. Don’t miss the highlight of the Link’s fundraising year!!

I trust that 2017 has begun well for all our readers and supporters. Stima has asked me to pass on the best wishes of the villagers, the schools and the Nkokoto village committee to everyone in Minchinhampton.
Rod Harris, Chairman. Contact - 01453 872317 / 07775652379 or Email