Rufiji Leprosy Trust is a charitable trust supporting the Kindwitwi Leprosy Care Centre in the Rufiji area of Tanzania.
The care centre assists in:
~ finding and treating people living with leprosy in the Rufiji area
~ supporting people all people affected by leprosy throughout the Rufiji area
~ promoting self-sufficiency of people living with leprosy and their families.
As leprosy is curable, many think the disease is no longer a problem, however it is listed as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) by the World Health Organisation, which means it is especially common in some of the world’s poorest areas.
The Trust prides itself on being totally managed by volunteer Trustees; the only paid employees are those who carry out the Trust’s work in Tanzania.
On the 6th of November 2016, our trustee and newsletter editor Jenny Cosgrave will be running the New York Marathon - her first marathon - and we are delighted she has decided to use this opportunity to raise funds for us at the same time.
In 2009 Jenny volunteered to help the team in Kindwitwi to develop their IT and English language skills and she says it had a profound effect on her.
“To this day I think of the people I met and worked with in the village,” she says. “It seems outrageous that a young person’s access to education in Tanzania is further limited because their mother or father had leprosy, but it happens.”
When she finished volunteering, Jenny, who currently lives in Mexico City where she works as a Programme Manager for the British Council, decided to come on board as a trustee. “RLT stands side by side with the community in Kindwitwi as they continue to find ways to improve their lives and ultimately to give their children opportunities they never had,” she points out.
“In 2015 I had a baby; it was a difficult pregnancy and I was essentially ordered to bed for 4 months. The months following the birth were also tough and I was only able to start exercising again once our son was around 6 months old. It was at that point that I decided it was time to fulfil a life ambition, run a marathon,” she says. “When the opportunity came up to take part in one of the world’s most famous marathon events, I jumped at the chance.”
Jenny says exercise has always been an important part of her life.
“Don’t get me wrong, I am no athlete but I always enjoyed the mental space that running around the parks of London gave me. I also enjoy the discipline that it takes and in particular seeing how far I could push myself…can I make it to that next tree? Am I really able to get back across Chelsea Bridge or make it up that final, terrible hill that is Latchmere road? Running, therefore is important for me and continues to be so here in Mexico City (although these days I stick to the gym given that this is one of the most polluted cities on the planet),” she says.
The training so far has been somewhat challenging.
“I have been injured, I have a young son and a full time job! There have been lots of 5 a.m. training sessions and pushing the buggy up and down hills while my son looks on, rather confused by why mummy is so red in the face!” she says.
“Having a child and coming through all the challenges this entails has probably made the physical side of the training slower but having our son in my life has made me more passionate, more motivated and more determined to achieve everything I possibly can in my life and that brings me to the work of the Rufiji Leprosy Trust.”
And although she says her injury may mean she will run one of the slowest times ever, she is spurred on by the locals. “I often hear cries of encouragement such as, ‘hechale ganas guerra’- roughly translated as ‘you can do it blondy!’ when I’m out running,” says Jenny. “It’s great to hear when I’m pounding the pavements.”
“On the 6th of November I will be fulfilling a personal ambition but I will also be reaffirming my commitment to Rufiji and particularly to the community in Kindwitwi. I hope you will join me in that endeavour.”
You can join her in her endeavour by donating at: https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/Click to read full story
Helping children attain the education necessary to break the cycle of poverty is high on our agenda which is why we not only fund schooling, but also help make life a bit easier for students to complete their studies.
Studying in the evenings can be difficult in Kindwitwi because it gets dark at 6pm in Tanzania and most houses in Kindwitwi don’t have electricity.
To help address this we funded a library with solar panels. Students living at home can study in the evening there without the distraction of family life going on around them. A library is actually quite unusual in villages such as Kindwitwi, particularly as we have a complete set of secondary school text books to suite the national syllabus.
Our Centre manager Abdallah Nguyu says there is quite a culture now of kids going to the library to work.
Kindwitwi also has the only pre-school kindergarten in the whole district. We funded the training for two pre-school teachers and thanks to donations from the International School of Tanganyika it has expanded. Volunteers from Parmiter’s School in the UK also built a toilet block with a hand washing facility last year.
This kindergarten bucks the trend of education for kindergarten children in Tanzania; according to the recent fifth Uwezo annual learning assessment report which studied the state of education in Tanzania in 2014, the participation of children in public pre-primary schools remains low with signs of declining enrolment rates in recent years. Click here to read the full story.
All Kindwitwi children receive primary education at schools in the neighbouring villages of Nyanda or Katundu.
Children from families affected by leprosy who pass the secondary school exam receive support from the Rufiji Leprosy Trust to enable them to have the best chance possible to complete their secondary education. This alleviates pressure of an already poor family trying to find the money to educate their child. most of these children go to Utete Secondary School. Some children live at home, but it is better if they board as it’s an 8 mile walk each way and the children do have to be mindful of local wildlife – which has on occasions included lions and crocodiles!
It costs £100 a year for a child to board.
When Fr Robin, the founder of Kindwitwi was living here, he was keen for children to be educated. Click here to hear him talk about the importance of education and schooling in the village.
Some of the books available in the libraryClick to read full story
In 1983, while working at the International School in Dar, Bill first led a group of students to do community service work in Kindwitwi. He subsequently became Chairman of the Kindwitwi Board of Management and then a Trustee of RLT.
As a trustee he did much to ensure the work of RLT ran smoothly and that funds were spent where they were most needed. He was supportive of the volunteers in the village and had a big space in his heart for Father Robin Lamburn.
When the frail, elderly Father Robin broke his hip in the remote village of Kindwitwi, it was Bill who managed to arrange for a medical plane to land on the rarely used airstrip and fly him to Kenya where there were facilities to operate.
Bill is pictured here at board meetings in Kindwitwi Leprosy Care Centre in 1987 and in the late 1990’s.
He will be very much missed.
Abdallah Nyguyu, current Centre Manager, writes:
"This is sad news to me and all other villagers in Kindwitwi who know him. He was very close to Kindwitwi when he was at IST in Dar. May God rest him in peace Amen.
Bill's career as a school educator has taken him all over the world, both as a headmaster and as a consultant; his expertise was in supporting the professional development of teachers, particularly in Africa.
To read more about his life and to send condolences please visit the Remembering William Powell Facebook page.Click to read full story