Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Here’s a question.  Is my cousin’s wife my cousin-in-law, my cousin-out-law or just someone my cousin married?  Its questions like these that, despite having access to the internet, I wonder about for days.  For the sake of this blog I shall call her Gemma, for that is her name and she is indeed married to my cousin. 
Well Gemma thinks it’s about time I wrote about something serious rather than prattling on about scanning children through tills, SatanClaus, dubious medical procedures and Fernando Alonso.  She also happened to mention that if I didn’t then she would get her Husband’s Mum, my Aunt, to stop giving me free beer in the pub she owns whenever I pop down to Devon.  Now as I’m visiting on my hols next month, I thought it would be the wise thing to go along with her Machiavellian scheme.

Gemma works for a small grassroots charity called EdUKaid that helps African children get a better quality education.  They work with communities in rural Tanzania to improve the teaching and learning environment through building and upgrading schools, and providing vital educational services, resources and support. They also support individual children to go to school through a child sponsorship programme.  Gemma and my Aunt Joan recently visited Tanzania and the schools are in a terrible state of disrepair.

EdUKaid try to help out in the following ways:
  • They upgrade schools with basic resources and facilities. (Blackboards, desks &chairs, teacher’s desks and chairs, cupboards, replastering, flooring, walkways, internal and external painting.
  • They provide/upgrade toilet facilities.
  • They upgrade teacher’s housing (to increase motivation).
  • They introduce and deliver pre primary classes (4-6 years).
  • They provide support and sponsorship opportunities to the most vulnerable children in southern Tanzania.
  • They support local/provide local jobs and training.

The things that they really need at the moment are child sponsors – for £15 a month (50p a day) they can cover the costs for uniforms, books, pens etc, exam fees and a bicycle.  I’m not going to start getting all condescending and point out how little you can buy nowadays for 50p, I mean the Daily Mail costs 55p for god’s sake and how much of a waste of money is that?  I’m just going to paraphrase Arrested Development and say “50p means a snack for me, but it means a big deal to you.”
I’m not trying to make you feel guilty, that’s your priest’s job, but here’s a profile of a typical student to hopefully inspire you to help.
Mwanahamisi Isa Tabu is a typical sponsored student currently in secondary school.

Born in 1996, Mwanahamisi Isa used to live with her parents in a small village 20km away from the village of Lwelu. Her mother and father were unemployed and had 6 other children. As they could no longer take care of them all, Mwanahamisi Isa was brought to her aunt (Asha Natime) and uncle (Mohamedi Abdallah Naukola), in Lwelu soon after her 1st birthday.  They have been her guardians ever since.

In Lwelu, Mwanahamisi Isa lives in a small mudhut together with her aunt, uncle and 6 other relatives. Because there are only 4 beds in the house, Mwanahamisi Isa shares a bed with her youngest cousin Amina Isa. Her aunt and uncle are peasants. They grow cassava and maize, and own a coconut palm. During the weekends, Mwanahamisi Isa and her aunt often walk 20 km to collect shellfish from the seaside. Afterwards, they sell them at the local market.

Mwanahamisi Isa is currently attending Mikindani Secondary School as she successfully passed her standard 7 exams last year. When she grows up, she hopes to become a nurse and help her family.

“I feel very happy to get support from EdUKaid and I promise to EdUKaid that I will never let you down.  Because we are very poor, I will make sure that I study hard and my hope is to be a nurse in the future and help my family especially my Grandmother who I live with.  Some people they ask for the help when they are not so poor but I ask for the support because I am very poor.  Therefore I would like to express my thanks to EdUKaid.  My Grandmother did not expect that I would be in Secondary education.”
If you fancy sponsoring a child you can contact EdUKaid at admin@edukaid.com or you could visit their website at http://www.edukaid.com for more information (It’s ok, I wouldn’t take my word for it either).  They have a facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/EdUKaidCharity and of course are all twittered up at @edukaid

You hear all these stories about charities wasting their money on champagne for the staff and all that nonsense, but I can assure you that Gemma is a Pint of Bitter and a packet of crisps type of lass (my cousin married up) so there will be none of that going on.
If truth be known, it was my intention to write this piece as a favour for my cousin-in-out-whatever-law and then leave it at that, I’ve done my bit, I’ve helped spread the word haven’t I?  But I will be putting my money where my ever so large mouth is and sponsoring a child myself.  I will also be insisting that Gemma buys me a pint when I see her, it’s only fair right?