Kenilworth Town Councillor James Kennedy and his wife, Kit Lawry, recently visited Kenilworth’s Tanzanian partner, the remote village of Uyogo in the Tabora Region of Tanzania from October 12 to 15.
Kit is a committee member of the Kenilworth-Uyogo Friendship Link (KUFL). She and James have a particular interest in Tanzania having met each other there 40 years ago while both were volunteer teachers.
This visit was to strengthen friendships with the village committee, meet with district government leaders, review projects that Uyogo, Kenilworth and the district government have collaborated on during the 40 years of this Friendship Link and listen to villagers’ current priorities.
Tabora, in rural central Tanzania, is one of the country’s poorer regions, dry with scrubby vegetation. Uyogo is 5 miles off the main road from the nearest town, Urambo. People are poor, mainly subsistence and peanut farmers, many not able to afford a bicycle, never mind a motorbike or car.
Working in collaboration with local government and Uyogo villagers, each partner contributing one-third of the cost of a project (sometimes in kind; villagers usually make bricks and do the building and carpentry), KUFL has improved health, education and water supplies significantly by building a mother and child clinic, a village dispensary, with nurses’ houses, a borehole and several rainwater harvesting tanks (water is a problem in the dry season), a culvert to strengthen the road leading to the nearest market so it can be used in the rainy season (when too much water presents problems), primary school classrooms and teachers houses.
They have also facilitated links with Bees Abroad, a charity based in Stoneleigh, to support the development of bee-keeping in Uyogo as an income earner for villagers.
Money is raised in Kenilworth by our generous citizens’ individual giving, at events and through local organisations.
Kenilworth Rotary Club donated significantly towards building a maternity ward. This will allow Dr Joyce Ongati, the former Uyogo village nurse, whom KUFL sponsored through her 5-year training to become a doctor, to return to the village and work there.
Kenilworth School very generously supports KUFL each year with donations from their Africa Week.
A consignment of textbooks for the new secondary school in Uyogo, recently constructed by the government, is currently on its way to Uyogo.
There has been two-way visiting between Uyogo and Kenilworth over the 40 years of the Friendship Link.
Tanzanian government officials and liaison people for KUFL have visited Kenilworth.
KUFL Chair Peter Fisher and his wife Ann have visited Uyogo several times, together with former Kenilworth residents Beryl and Harry Starkey.
Kenilworth School teacher Mohammed Nahal, and several Kenilworth School students and former students have also visited Uyogo.
In 2015 two Uyogo secondary school students, together with the local primary school headteacher, visited Kenilworth after being invited by Kenilworth School.
They stayed with Kenilworth School and KUFL families, enjoyed trips to London, Stratford, Warwick and around Kenilworth, and still remember the names of their kind hosts and student friends in town.
Both Agnes and Jumanne are now at university in Tanzania, and both are still inspired by their trip to Kenilworth.
A highlight of Kit and James’ recent visit was meeting Jumanne’s parents under a tree outside their very small mud-brick house with thatched roof.
Jumanne’s father is a peanut farmer and they had eight children but one died last year.
Cllr Kennedy said: "Their quiet dignity, their thanks to the people of Kenilworth who had looked after Jumanne in Kenilworth four years ago, and the warmth of their hospitality despite a lack of material goods, was deeply moving."
Another highlight of the visit was a meeting with all Uyogo villagers, preceded by traditional drumming and dancing.
Speeches were made, gifts were exchanged and Cllr Kennedy presented a framed print by local artist Karen Pittaway to the village chairman to mark the continuing friendship between the communities.
Future projects planned with Uyogo villagers are: ensuring a water supply for the village dispensary, help finish off a primary classroom already under construction by the local community, and safeguard girl secondary students on their way to and from school each day; some walk long distances to get their secondary education.
Anyone interested in learning more about Kenilworth-Uyogo Friendship Link, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com