On my recent visit to our partner Diocese of Kondoa in Tanzania, I saw the beginnings of a project which Bishop Given, with others, is developing to found a vocational secondary college in a place called Chemba. Kondoa is a newish diocese in a part of Tanzania not reached by the missionaries in previous centuries – it really is virgin territory for the church. The Diocese has no secondary school – they have very few schools at all.
Bishop Given is very committed to the fact that education, and particularly around vocational subjects, is key to the development of community life as well as church life in his diocese. He is also very clear that this needs to be for girls as well as boys – for girls in this rural part of Tanzania, if they get any education at all, it often ends at primary age. Bishop Given and his wife, Reverend Lilian, have a passion to see young women’s opportunities changed through education. The intention is to build the school, which could open in a year or so’s time. It will probably open with 80 students, maybe 40 boys 40 girls in the first instance. It could grow quite significantly. The intention is to bring someone from outside the diocese, who has the right experience in education to be the first Principal of the school.
Chemba is well placed, being on the north-south route from Dodoma, capital of Tanzania, up towards Arusha, near Mount Kilimanjaro – the road that will form part of the Cape to Cairo Highway. It is a village with an Anglican parish church there, linked with one of our own parishes, and the diocese already owns a good amount of land there: so a good place to put this college. There is plenty of local labour – the local villagers have already made 7500 building blocks for the college.
Some of the issues we were talking about when I was out there are around the business planning and leadership of the project. There is a diocesan steering group, chaired by an Anglican layperson who is an education civil servant. Until the final plans are done and have been passed by the local government, the full costs remain unclear. Christian Aid have become involved because they are providing support over the business planning side and Christian Aid’s regional person, who is based in Nairobi, came to visit while I was there. Eliud is a Kenyan and has all the right skills and attitudes to sit alongside the Kondoa people as they go through the various processes.
Our part, the Diocese of Rochester’s part, is probably going to be somewhat in the background. We may well wish to offer some of the funding that is needed – while labour may be free, they need to purchase cement to make more blocks, roofing materials, electrical and plumbing materials and those kind of things. There is water underground in Chemba. African Windmill, a charity from America, have become involved here: a trial drill bore has been sunk and water for the college is there – but the well also will need funding.
As we were talking about business plans, fundraising and all the rest, because of lack of rain and failure of the harvest, people in Kondoa are facing real hardship and hunger. This project, this college, is something which, in Bishop Given’s eyes, will help people to sustain their lives better in the future. Some of the skills which will be taught will be around agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and nutrition, and that will help counter future shortages. Other skills such as building, carpentry and other more domestic skills will also help build sustainable communities. And, of course, a core of literacy and numeracy will be offered as well. The hope is that this project will help people in their villages to develop sustainable lifestyles. It is exciting to be alongside Bishop Given and his diocese as they take this forward.