The Minchinhampton Nkokoto Link - Looking Back...
The last twelve months have witnessed an impressive number of achievements and successes in the work of the Minchinhampton Nkokoto Link.
Health : It began with the successful boring of the new borehole in the village, giving a supply of fresh, clean and healthy water to those villagers furthest away from the first borehole that the Link had financed a few years ago. This achievement was celebrated by the Nkokoto villagers with joy, as it gave so many more of them easier access to water for their day to day domestic activities, for drinking and cooking.
Education : In the area of education, following the Government’s decision to abolish fees for secondary school children, the Link financed the making and provision by a local tailor of school uniforms to all those children who are sponsored at Vumilia School, Nkokoto’s local secondary school. This included two sets of shirts and trousers/skirts, shoes (you would be surprised how many children didn’t own a pair of shoes!) and a school bag that contained stationery and equipment to help them in their studies. The Link also contributed towards the cost of fees for one A level student who had performed exceptionally well as a sponsored student at Vumilia School. The Link also financed the purchase of books and equipment for the primary school, all bought locally in Urambo. Alongside this, the Link covered the cost of 300 D-lights (solar powered lights) for many of the families so that they didn’t have to rely on the dangerous kerosene powered lamps that cause so many accidental burns with children in the village, together with 300 family sized mosquito nets. Malaria is still the number one killer disease of children in Nkokoto. The Link purchased more bicycles for students attending Vumilia School as numbers attending from Nkokoto had increased last year. These bicycles painted in the distinctive Minch – Nkokoto Link colours, allow the students to get to and from the school so much more easily and so don’t arrive at school tired. Hopefully, this will mean an increase in their achievement at the end of each school year!? We wait in anticipation.
College : The Link continues to sponsor twelve students each year at the Folk Development College (the FDC) which is a residential college in Urambo training young people in trades such as needlework, carpentry, mechanics, electronics and building. The twelve students, all from Nkokoto, have their fees and residential accommodation costs paid and at the end of their two year course are given a tool kit – for the needlework students this is a sewing machine and various materials, for the others it is a tool kit appropriate to their trade, giving them the opportunity to start up a business with their skills.
The microfinance scheme was welcomed by the villagers and there were 28 applications for loans, which have been used to set up little businesses or activities to raise money so that they can have an income for a little extra cash for food, clothes and the basic necessities of life in Nkokoto. The initial loan capital made available by the Link was over 6 million Tanzanian shillings (£2,214) which enabled each villager to borrow 200,000 Tz shillings (£75) to set up a small business, buying and selling goods, providing a service, etc. Plans are to increase this amount to give more villagers the opportunity to receive a loan.
Stima : Of course, as many readers will remember, the Link hosted a visit from Stima Hassan, our local representative in Nkokoto and Urambo, for a ten day visit to Minchinhampton, Nailsworth and Woodchester in May 2016. He was warmly welcomed by so many of our sponsors and was able to explain to everyone he met about the work of the Link in Nkokoto and about the challenges the villagers of Nkokoto face on a day to day basis.
Plans for the future : To continue the sponsorship scheme for the school and FDC students; to continue to support Nkokoto Primary School with materials and equipment; to further develop the microfinance scheme; to research in to the costs of building two houses for teachers in Nkokoto and improve their latrines; to build a new set of latrines for the primary school with a way of improving the standard of hygiene for the 500 children who use it; to build another rainwater harvesting tank at the primary school; support for the Nkokoto Clinic in the form of needed equipment and materials, all purchased through the Urambo District Medical Officer; Links between local primary schools and Nkokoto are to be developed so that there can be a better two way process of a greater understanding of the problems, challenges and difficulties that Nkokoto children face compared to those of our Gloucestershire children.
Nkokoto Visit 2017 : Rod Harris, the Chairman, will be travelling out to Nkokoto in September again, to establish which new projects will be feasible to finance and to check on those projects which the Link has financed, to meet the village chairman, Executive Officer, village committee, Headteacher and staff of the primary school and Head and staff of the secondary school, to explore which projects in the future will support them best and to maintain the strength of the Link between Minchinhampton and Nkokoto.
Support : A big thank you to all our supporters and sponsors, without whom none of the above activities supporting Nkokoto could have taken place. Thank you from the Link committee, from the chairman and from the villagers themselves. It is likely that you will never meet them but they rely so much on your support. Thank you.
Rod Harris Chairman