Minchinhampton - Nkokoto Link - October 2020
There is a dwindling number of countries in the world where the UK has influence and does genuine good. The Dept for International Development (DfID) is among one of the world’s most effective aid agencies and has turned the UK into a global force in development. Tanzania is one of the African countries that has benefitted from British Government aid. The independence of the DfID has protected overseas aid from becoming politicised; it was set up after the Pergau Dam scandal in the 1990s when development money for Malaysia was revealed to be linked to weapons sales. But during the summer months, Boris Johnson announced plans to merge the DfID into the Foreign Office, to better align the £15 billion overseas aid budget (0.7% of our GDP) with UK foreign policy. This move was condemned by previous Prime Ministers David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. Boris Johnson said that recipient nations treat the UK like “some giant cashpoint in the sky” (and he threw in the glib comment that their leaders take the money then “cut off the heads of their political opponents.”) This is a worrying, baffling and distressing attitude by the Government. Aid is not a cashpoint in the sky – it is a lifeline that provides medicine, food and shelter, vaccines, mosquito nets and clean water around the globe. Johnson also complained that the UK gives as much aid to Zambia as to the Ukraine, when the latter is crucial to our security. But aid is about giving to those in need.
As in Tanzania, half of Zambians live on less than £2 a day and, often, aid provides the basics of life. This change in government policy is wrong and makes it even more important for the Minchinhampton Nkokoto Link to provide support to the people of Nkokoto.
I recently met Matthew McIlvenna, who works for the World Health Organisation of the United Nations based in Niarobi, Kenya, who has lived and worked in Tanzania and knows the Tabora region in which Nkokoto sits. He made contact following the article on the Link’s work in the Stroud News and Journal. Over coffee, we discussed the work of the Link and he has offered to help us if at any time we need his support, assistance or advice. It was interesting when we were discussing covid-19 in East Africa, which seems to have affected far fewer people than was expected and fewer per 100,000 people than in the UK. Matthew jokingly commented that the grave diggers were sulking because they were getting far less work than they had expected! When you experience the crowding of Dar es Salaam, the markets there and in other towns, the packed buses and coaches and the lack of social distancing there, it is remarkable that covid-19 hasn’t had a more devastating effect.
Readers will remember that the Nkokoto Tailoring Group of students who graduated from the FDC in Urambo and who make all the school uniforms for the Nkokoto students at Vumilia School, have been supported by the Link. Now we learn that the group has been given a building in the village for their workshop. This is good news as it means they will now be well established as a business in Nkokoto. We are still waiting for more news of the “Minchinhampton Garage” being set up in Urambo and we are hoping to receive further details of the costs for supporting the nine Nkokoto students who have gone onto higher education, (for this they travel away from Nkokoto to their allocated boarding school to continue their studies for two more years,) and Kilima and Mariam at teacher training college. In October, we hope to be able to support three new Nkokoto students, who have applied to university too, two to study accountancy and one water engineering. It is heartening to see greater numbers of children and students who we sponsored successfully moving onto higher and advanced education. They are dedicated in working to pass their exams and their parents are contributing to their living expenses when their child leaves home to study.
With best wishes and thanks to all our supporters.