The Luhimba Project...
and St Katharines
(from the Chew Valley Gazette)

Pupils at St Katharine`s C of E Primary School in Felton have recently been gaining an insight into the way people in a remote African village live. The school has joined the Luhimba Project and has formed a link with the village school of Luhimba in East Africa.

Moving forward
Most of us will not have heard of Luhimba, but to Paul Temple, a teacher at St Katharine`s, this Tanzanian village has almost become a second home. Paul has been involved in a project to support Luhimba for the past fourteen years, and during that time he has seen the village move forward in so many ways. The project, which was started by Michael and Angela Carey of Wrington in 1984, has focused on education, health, clean water and agriculture, and has achieved wonderful results in all these areas. For example, a new dispensary with a qualified medical officer was opened last year. The villagers have called it The Angela Carey Dispensary, and all the children born there seem to be christened Michael or Angela! When the project was started the villagers shared a water hole with the cattle. Now there are nineteen water pumps in Luhimba.

The outstanding success of the Luhimba Project is largely due to the fact that every aspect of the scheme has been at the request of the villagers. At no time have the organisers imposed western ideas. Everything that has been done has been within the culture, tradition and understanding of the villagers. It has been a true partnership, and consequently personal friendship and mutual understanding have built up over the years.

Culture shock
Paul recalls his first visit to Luhimba - “ It was a true culture shock. I found myself in this delightful mud-hutted village, with no electricity, running water, vehicles or shops. I was given such a wonderful welcome, and received hospitality which I had never experienced before. I now return every year and live with the friends I have made in the village.”

Being a teacher, Paul has concentrated his work on the village primary school. In the early stages the school was a very run-down building with mud floors, very few desks, minimal resources , all of which were reflected in the low morale of the teaching staff. The first job was to create a much better working environment, and this has largely been accomplished. Floors have been concreted, walls plastered, and there are desks for all children to sit on. The project has also succeeded in building a second primary school in the outlying area of Likarangilo. But there is still a desperate need for teaching resources in both schools.

During his visit to Luhimba earlier this year Paul was accompanied by Helen Sweet. Helen is at university in Bristol and joined the project last year. She is planning to spend some time working in Tanzania when she qualifies as a teacher next year. Both Paul and Helen are committed to helping the two primary schools in Luhimba and, with the support of North Somerset Education Authority, have set up a sponsorship scheme amongst schools in the area.

The participating schools have pledged £50 per year for three years to help provide teaching resources for the Luhimba Schools, and in return receive the benefits of a real, ready-made international multicultural link, including direct communication with the Luhimba children, sets of artefacts, displays, updates on progress - in fact a real insight into the way of life in a remote African village. Paul explains, “It is a wonderful opportunity for our children to be involved in such a project, and to know that their efforts will have an immediate impact on the lives of children in a developing country. Every penny raised goes to the schools. It has always been the policy of the project leaders not to take anything out of the funds for administration, travel etc. All these expenses are met from our own pockets.”