Award Report - Florence Robertson
I would like to thank LEH for their kind donation to the construction project I was involved in this summer in Tanzania. For two months, I helped build a community centre in the rural village of Kyaitoke and lived among its wonderful inhabitants.
The main function of the community centre was to be as a venue for the monthly clinic sent by the nearest hospital to attend to expectant mothers and babies. Prior to the construction of the centre, mothers walked for miles with their children to attend clinics that were held under a mango tree, regardless of the heat or heavy rains. Nurses from the hospital lacked equipment and reported that, due to the village's distance from the main hospital, and the lack of local facilities, some women were not attending check-ups. The local mothers we met were truly appreciative of the new clinic building, and movingly gave us food grown on their own ‘shambas' (farms) to thank us. Thanks to a fantastic team of local builders and our amateurish help, the building was finished ahead of schedule, and in September, the first monthly clinic was a huge success. Mothers and over 150 children attended and benefited from new equipment including weighing scales, desks, chairs and a bed, and we hope that attendance will continue to grow. Aside from the clinic, the community centre will house seminars, council meetings, women's' and youth groups, and will act as a focal point for festivals and other village events. Anyone in the community can use it and a committee of villagers has been elected to ensure the centre's upkeep.
In our spare time, we volunteered to teach at two neighbouring schools – a fantastic experience in itself. The small primary school needed bricks to add to its very basic facilities, and the secondary school was suffering terribly from poor teaching, strikes, and lack of equipment. Happily, we raised enough extra money to be able to donate these bricks and to sponsor around 20 local children in attending the secondary school for the next 5 years.
Personally, I had the time of my life and learnt an enormous amount – everything from how to mix cement and cook on a charcoal fire to how to teach poetry to a class of 50 with very limited English! The project was a huge success and The Lady Eleanor Holles School's contribution made a real difference. Thank you very much!
Florence Robertson, LEH 2000 - 2011