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Richard and Bryony Loader Introduce Their Tanzanian Village Project

Sunday 29 August 2010, 15:12
By Bryony Loader

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A villager collecting from a water holeWe began our project in August 2005 after I visited Ughandi 'B' village in rural Tanzania in 2003/2004. After my second visit Richard and I returned home to discuss what would be the best way to help the community. The obvious choice was to install water pumps, there being only one working pump in the village to cover a population of nearly 3000.

Having had visions of an African community many times in my life, I knew it was ultimately where I would end up. Of course you cannot simply walk into an African village and expect to be trusted and I had no idea how this would come about. Along with the visions I'd been told to expect the arrival of an African man who would change my life, I had to be patient and wait. Then in 2002 I met a young Tanzanian Christian youth worker and from that day on nothing in my life was the same. For a year or so we met and he would speak about the struggles of his family back home in Tanzania and his desperate feelings because they could not afford to educate him or look after such a large family. He had spent a life of ill health in poverty with very little food or clothes until finally his parents decided to send him to Dar es Salaam to make a life there. He was spotted by someone who paid for him to come to the UK on a Christian Youth Work course and so our association began.

His name is Abraham and in 2003 I flew home with him knowing it was what I had been asked by God to do. People I spoke to could not understand why I should want to visit such a place full of poverty, starvation, corruption and strange diseases, but the day I stepped into the village of Ughandi 'B' I knew. The people were those from the visions, they were family and this place was home. Hundreds of people came to meet me, village elders welcomed me and I signed their visitors' book. Abraham's family fed me, they were so full of giving and asking for nothing in return and yet I knew I was eating their only meal. The day I left I knew I would have to return and nine months later I took my husband Richard to meet them. Richard's background is in the water industry and his knowledge would prove invaluable. Neither the government nor Water Aid had any plans to work in the area as it was so remote and although we endeavoured to get help none was forthcoming. In the summer of 2005 we decided to take on the task ourselves.

Ughandi 'B' has five sub villages covering a vast area so we determined from this that a survey would be the best way forward. Communities of subsistence farmers grow crops such as maize and sunflowers twice a year during the long and short rain seasons, but the area is essentially semi desert. They also have small herds of cattle, goats and local chicken. During my first visit I noted that often cattle would roam across farmers land and contaminate any hand dugs wells in and around the river bed. Many women and children were collecting water from such places for drinking. Whilst I knew we couldn't deliver clean water to the whole population, it was far better to do what was possible for the community than to turn our back on them. There began three years of fund raising which was something neither of us had undertaken before. However I believe if it's in God's plan all things are possible.

Fund raising volunteersAt first we raised money through events in the local community of Wincanton using various venues for skittle evenings, quizzes, garage sales and bingo nights, but we realised things were moving too slowly for the people of Ughandi 'B' and at times I wondered how many of them had to die before we were able to bring them the clean water they so desperately needed. Friends and family helped tremendously by joining us on our annual sponsored walks, some even giving talks on our behalf until finally we decided to ask for help from charities who were already working in Africa.

Sema undertaking a water survey of Ughandi 'B' and its five sub villagesTwo years ago we commissioned Sema, a local NGO to undertake a survey of Ughandi 'B' and its five sub villages to find two possible water sources. Abstraction of water via borehole is a risky business so we felt it necessary to be present during this time. Sites were found at Elimu and Maliasili sub villages. Unfortunately, due to granite rock formations shown by the survey shallow wells would have been useless. Richard and I had walked the village in 2004 and seen where previously shallow wells had failed, so we now had to drill deeper which of course would be more costly. Luckily we still had a good support team in the UK and by the end of 2007 we had enough funds put aside for drilling.

Locals using one of the new pumpsDue to heavy rain drilling could not take place until January 2008; however both sites gave a good yield. Later that year we were able to purchase two hand pumps and in August 2008, exactly three years after we launched the project, installation took place. Our representative at this time was Abraham.

Locals using one of the new pumpsA year on and Richard and I have recently returned from Ughandi 'B' having seen both pumps working. During our visit we set up a contract of trust giving the water 'user group' sole responsibility for maintenance of the pumps. Two pump attendants will collect money from families who use the pumps and this will go into an account to cover maintenance costs and attendants' wages.

A great many benefit from the new pumpsThere was an endless stream of women and children collecting water which was very humbling for the two of us to watch. At times going to the village had felt like an intrusion into their lives but we now have their trust because the water project has helped the community as a whole, not merely the family I first met. When Abraham was a child he had constant diarrhoea and was unable to wash much of the time. It's our aim to give the children of Ughandi 'B' a better chance in life beginning with a healthier lifestyle. Water is a basic commodity which we think little of in the UK; it just comes from a tap. Think carefully of how much it would mean to lose it and then see how much it means to these people to receive it.

Muhuvi School Pit Latrine Project

Having successfully completed the water project in 2008 we didn't anticipate further work in Ughandi 'B' but in January 2009 a donor came forward wishing to fund a water or sanitation related project in the village. The donor was particularly interested in tying this idea in with the local Primary School if we could oversee the project. So we instructed Hapa, another NGO in Singida Town 45km away, to work alongside the village community. Various meetings were held with the village and school committees and a decision was reached that a block of toilets would be built consisting of ten boys latrines, nine girls latrines and a shower room for girls.

Lack of proper sanitation is a huge problem in Ughandi 'B' and this is one aspect of daily life our project hopes to address in the future. Toilets consist of a crude hole in the ground sparsely enclosed with twigs. Not much privacy and far from hygienic. In constructing the school pit latrines it's hoped all the community will benefit from knowledge gained in building them and also from child to child training at school.

New pit latrines being constructedBuilding began in April 2009 with contributions coming from Ughandi 'B' and its surrounding communities. Local artisans and materials were used in the construction with each sub village having a specified time to work on the project. Hapa engineers and representatives were on hand to give instructions. Throughout the following months we were kept informed of progress by email. Finally child to child training was given to the pupils to ensure they have a better understanding of good hygiene.

Handing-over ceremony for the new pit latrines
A water trolley provided to aid the collection of water from more remote places

In August 2009 Richard and I were invited to Muhuvi School for a special handing-over ceremony organized by the community, also attended by local government and education dignitaries. The latrines were near completion at this time and we were able to inspect them. A section for urinals had been added to the original plan along with two toilets for disabled pupils. Normally girls miss out on many weeks education a year through not having facilities to wash during their menstrual cycle, so it was essential to give them a secure area. Although there is no water source at Muhuvi School, Elimu pump is about a ten minute walk away and the project will provide a special water carrier for collection from that point. It's our hope that in the future we will be able to supply the school with a water holding tank.

Ughandi 'B' Water Project launching Small Projects

Our main borehole project and the recent pit latrines at Muhuvi School have been warmly received by the community of Ughandi 'B' and we were able to see improvements in the standard of living for some. However the village has no infrastructure, therefore the community has to be self sufficient to survive. This can mean fathers travelling far away to find work in between times of planting and harvest. We made the decision to invest in smaller projects, creating co operatives and helping families start a business. Newly established tailoring group exhibiting various waresThese projects cost around £600 to start and thereafter should begin to see a profit which can be ploughed back into the business as well as earning the group members a wage.

During our recent visit to Ughandi 'B' Richard and I noticed many skills that could be tapped into, thus making the communities more self sufficient. We will fund as many small projects as possible if funds become available. Some people already sell their produce in Singida Town and our aim is to build on this.

During our latest visit to Ughandi 'B' in August 2009 we created a tailoring group, which consists of five women and two men. We had been given £250 from various donors in the UK, which seems a small sum of money but makes a real difference if you use it wisely. Material to make seventy school uniforms was purchased in Singida Town and with the help of Abraham's mother we picked out a team who either had sewing machines or sewing skills. We paid them what they considered to be a fair wage for their work and two days later at the local ceremony five pupils were presented proudly to us wearing their new uniforms. The group continues to work and we have sent them funds to buy three more sewing machines.

The tailoring group producing school uniformsStudents wearing brand new school uniforms
Five pupils thanking us for their new school uniforms at the village ceremony held by the community of Ughandi 'B'.

The newly formed tailoring group is pictured commencing on our latest project to provide uniforms for pupils of Muhuvi Primary School. Should further funds become available we hope this group will be able to sew uniforms for all 710 pupils whose ages range from seven to thirteen. Although Primary education is free uniforms have to be provided by the child's family, many cannot afford to pay for this therefore their children don't attend school.

Elimu boreholeMy first visit took me to the home of the Ng'eni family. They are subsistence farmers whose sole income is their crops and the nearest source of water was a dried up river bed two miles downhill from their home.  This was dirty and often contaminated by neighbours' cattle. Although they boiled water for use in cooking, I was left with a bad case of diarrhoea which lasted several days.

Elimu borehole now provides them with clean safe drinking water and the project will supply them with a water cart to help with collection as the couple is elderly and still have one son living at home.

During 2009 money was donated specifically for smaller projects and some of this has gone to help the Ng'eni family set up their own chicken scheme. A sum of £300 has helped to secure their once open farm house with a living fence and wooden gate which will enable the couple to keep livestock safely within the compound and at the same time allow the birds a certain amount of freedom.

Ng’eni family chicken schemeA small chicken house is being constructed from locally fired bricks

A small chicken house is being constructed from locally fired bricks, which are cheaper to source than wood bought in from elsewhere. The project has provided not only an income for the family but also helped the wider community who make the bricks and deliver goods such as cement.

Ughandi 'B' Water Project Muhuvi Primary School

Students on their way to Muhuvi Primary SchoolMuhuvi Primary School caters for pupils from the age of seven to thirteen and currently has 710 pupils and eight classrooms. In 2008 the project installed a hand pump only a short distance from the school. This has helped the pupils enormously as they have to carry water for use in the school daily. We hope to follow this up by providing the school with a hand cart and containers to cut down on time fetching water. In September 2009 a new pit latrine block was constructed from a donation via 'Just a Drop'.

The school benefits from a water pump installed a short distance awayAlthough primary education is free, stationery and books have to be paid for. Numerous donations to our project have enabled us to supply the school with many of their needs. In 2007 we purchased text books for both teachers and pupils and during our most recent visit the project donated a vast amount of stationery.

On my first visit to Ughandi 'B' I was a novelty, considered to be an angel as few of the inhabitants had seen a white person. Many people never leave the village. In the short time our project has been running we have seen living standards rise significantly by merely supplying the community with two safe water sources and improving hygiene at Muhuvi School. Our work in Tanzania has not been easy, especially when we have had to do much of it from the UK. It has cost us much in time and money as we made a decision from the outset that all donations would be used solely for the project. Even travelling to the village takes days and is always problematic, but we have learned to expect the unexpected. As long as you have a heart for Africa, every small achievement is rewarding. Today, because of the way in which we have taken locals into consideration, we are accepted and considered to be members of their tribe.

There is still work to be done however and one day we hope to support them with a dispensary and much more. We believe that with continued funding there is no limit to what we can achieve, so please give what you can to help the people of Ughandi 'B'.

Bryony and Richard Loader




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