Minchinhampton Nkokoto Link - September 2017
Nothing is simple when dealing with East Africa from a distance! On occasions, we worry in the Link that our hopes and aspirations for our support for the village just haven’t been successful. An example is the recent order placed by Stima for 300 solar powered lights for families in Nkokoto who didn’t receive them last year and the purchase of a further number of bicycles for those additional students who are attending Vumilia Secondary School now that the President has abolished school fees at secondary level. It appeared that the company who supplied these items last time had disappeared although we had paid for them! But without any warning, suddenly last week a truck arrived in the village with the lights and bikes! Wonderful!! Stima now has the pleasant task of distributing the lights to those needy families. (Remember that although electricity has reached Nkokoto, very few of the villagers have the money to pay for the installation of lights into their houses and still rely on paraffin or kerosene lamps for lighting, and these have been the cause of numerous serious burns to children.) The bikes will be painted blue and will have Minch-Nkokoto printed on them, and then handed out to the students after they have signed an agreement to maintain the bike for four years while they are at school and return it in good condition at the end of their schooling.
I am actively planning my visit to Nkokoto, flights are booked to leave UK on September 19th and return on 29th. I have booked on the most economic flights possible (Egypt Air outward, Emirates back, and on Precision Air internally.) The Link committee has given me a list of tasks while in Nkokoto which include:
• Meeting, discussing and fostering links with the Elders of the village to review their priority on projects that we in Minchinhampton can support; evaluate all recent projects and seek where the Link can best support the village as a whole in the future; Check on maintenance and repairs of infrastructure that we have provided in the past, e.g. rainwater harvesting tanks.
• Boreholes - Check on maintenance, safety checks etc.;
• School – Identify needs of the school, teachers and pupils. Talk with the new Headmaster and teachers, and Primary Schools Officer, and cement foundations of a stronger relationship between Nkokoto Primary School and local (to Minchinhampton) primary schools; meet and play football with the children!
• Microfinance scheme - Review progress, evaluate results; where do we go from here? Larger loans and for a longer loan period?
• Electricity: which buildings have connections, can we progress its use? In clinic, in school?
• I’ll also carry out some requests that the Nailsworth – Vumilia Link have asked me to review.
No doubt, when I get to Nkokoto, there will be many more questions to be answered!
Rod Harris, Chairman.