Monday, August 30, 2010

In order to bring our Green School in Zambia closer to reality we have relocated our family to Blantyre, Malawi. Although we are still 100's km from the site of our development we are now based in the region and can make regular trips to the site. I, Adrian, have taken a job as a teacher in an international school in order to ensure that we still have an income whilst Betty will make frequent trips to Zambia to advance matters in relation to the project. This will enable us to establish greater continuity in our dealings with the community in Kazungula, Chief Sekute, the district council and other stakeholders.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Five years of Blogging (on and off!)

I first started writing this Blog back in 2005. It began as a reflection on the time I worked in Botswana back in the early part of this Millennium. Since then ‘Thembinkosi Foundation’ has evolved considerably until we became a UK registered charity 18 months ago. I recently read back through my posts in the Blog and noticed how it has evolved since its inception.

It began as a retrospective diary account of the years I spent living and working in Botswana. The focus was very much on the impact of HIV and Aids. All in all the blog entries were based upon stories and encounters that had affected me. As time went on the Blog drifted to some extent. I have always wanted to keep writing but at times I have found myself writing for the sake of writing. I guess it is for the reader to decide to what extent this was the case.
In recent times the Blog has become refocused. The focus is now very much on our vision to build and sustain a green school in Zambia. The Blog charts the progression of our charity ‘The Thembinkosi Foundation’ and our work in Zambia. The Blog has a new lease of life. It now has more energy. It is more than just a reflection on the past but it’s a vision for the future. This makes it far more exciting to write!

In August we are relocating to Malawi and running our project from there and a base in Livingstone. These are exciting times for us and for the Blog!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Rotary Club of Liverpool Garston

I have been a member of the Rotary Club of Liverpool Garston for the past 18 months. During this time the Club has taken a great deal of interest in our Green School project and has been a great supporter of the Thembinkosi Foundation. Club members were very generous in sponsoring my ‘Tour de Zambezi’ last summer and have continued to support us through a weekly raffle. Furthermore, the Club is committed to helping us still further in the future and we hope to secure funding for various aspects of the school project through Rotary International and its various funding streams.

The support From Rotary has been much more than the financial aspect though. Through my membership of the Club I have made many new friends. Many of these are at least 30 years my senior and as you can imagine I have learnt so much from them. The Club meets every Monday evening and I have always made a point of sitting with different Rotarians each week. The amount that I can learn from those in the older generation is not lost on me. Many Club members have advised me on differing aspects of our project. This advice and support has been invaluable. It has been incredibly reassuring and inspiring for us involved with the ZIGS project to know that people of great wisdom believe in us and our vision for green education in Zambia.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Societal attitudes towards the Elderly

This got me thinking about the way we treat the elderly in the UK compared to the way the elders are treated in Sub Saharan Africa. UK society is quick to condemn the old to nursing homes and certainly does not value the wisdom of those with age and experience. This is such a contrast to the attitude of families and communities in Africa where the elders are respected and revered for their wisdom. Which society should be described as ‘developed?’

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thembinkosi Band Night

On Friday 16th April we are hosting another of our famous Band Nights at the Woolton Village Club in Liverpool. It promises to be a night of live music, games and great banter! All funds will go directly to our charity. The Trustees of Woolton Village Club have again kindly donated their facilities to us and all of our musicians are playing in support of our charity.

Confirmed artists thus far:
Lexi Senior
Adam Martin
Martin Fyles and Sam Dawson
Michelle Nuckley

Our You Tube Channel features music from Lexi, Michelle and Mannaquin from our last Band Night at the Club.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Latest News - April 2010

The Thembinkosi Foundation is looking for volunteers to help us move forward our project to Build a School in Zambia. We are looking for a minimum of three people to take over as Trustees of our charity. This will then allow our current Trustees (Adrian and Betty) to make a move to Southern Africa in order to manage the next phase in the building of our school! Will is also stepping down as a Trustee as he is moving to the West Indies where he will oversee our Carribean fundraising venture.

As a Trustee you would be responsible for monitoring the work of our charity - particularly with regard to how we spend the funds that are raised. The role of Trustee is pivotal for any charity but it is not necessarily a time consuming post. Please drop me a line if you are interested or would want more details of what's involved.

As always we are looking for as many people as possible to assist us in our fundraising ventures! Now the Spring is here in the Northern Hemisphere it's an ideal time to embark on Sponsored Events. Please consider running/cycling/walking or the alike on behalf of our charity. We lack the institutionalised organisation of larger charities and thus are dependent upon YOU to help us achieve our goal!

On Friday 16th April we are having another of our famous Band Nights. We are heading back to Woolton Village Club in Liverpool. It promises to be another fantastic evening and Will has put together a fantastic line up on the bill. Check out our Thembinkosi Fundraiser 'event' for more details or contact Will, Betty or Adrian for more information.

Betty and I will be making the move to the region where our school is to be built in the near future. We have decided that the only way to make our dream a reality is to be on the ground. We will continue to support ourselves financially by taking work in the region and thus ensure that all monies raised by our fundraising ventures go directly to the project. We have no paid fundraisers or administrators and thus we can guaratee that all funds rasied go to help to provide education for some of the world's most vulnerable children.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Our model for a Green School that helps empower the poor

We feel that our model for education as something new to offer in that in incorporates the best practice from similar projects whilst having a thoroughly unique angle.

We have researched extensively into the provision of Green Schools across the globe and have discovered that despite the fact the in our opinion 'green is the new gold' and has enormous potential for sustainable economic development there are very few purpose built 'green' schools anywhere in either the 'developed' or 'developing world.' We are convinced that our model is one that can be replicated throughout Africa and can lead to the empower of communities that are currently marginalised. We would argue that there are opportunities for Africa to lead the way globally in terms of green living and that this can be a key to development.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

CAFOD - the truth about where your money goes

I recently came across this article about CAFOD (the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development). It was posted as a reply to an article in the Telegraph.

'CAFOD spends £49m a year, of which £6m on political campaigns in the UK. I would like to see charities required by law to devote their resources to charitable works, not politics. Of the £49m a year it spends, £13m is on salaries and pensions for its UK staff. Those
salaries average more than £35K a year. While not a fortune from a middle-class perspective, this is an average, and one that is well above the average salary in the UK as a whole, raising questions over whether the charity is being run in the interests of its employees.
Donors may not realise that much of the money they donate is going on salaries and pensions, and only once those are covered will anything at all be left over for charitable works. CAFOD spends £1.5m a year on professional consultancy fees. The director of CAFOD pays himself £76,892 a year, plus a further £7,689 in pension contributions for himself. Once again, there are plenty of people on six-figure salaries in the UK who might view that salary as unremarkable, but this is meant to be the “voluntary sector”. In fact, the CAFOD director’s salary is an increase from £71258 in 2008. You might ask why such a large salary increase is justified in the voluntary sector in a year with little inflation. I expect the current disaster in Haiti will
produce further salary increases for the CAFOD director this year. CAFOD admits it spends £6m a year on politics and £6m a year on fundraising, and is happy to quote in its annual accounts a figure showing the balance of £37m is devoted to its “international campaigns”, but simply maths shows that the salaries of many of its UK staff are being rolled into that, and that the real frontline spending figure is much lower. Actually once £7m in “operating costs” and £2m in “support costs” are deducted, only £28m of CAFOD’s annual income of £49m is given in grants under its international programme. Charitable donors may be surprised that this is so low as a proportion of the whole. While £13m of this £28m is devoted to disaster relief grants
and £6.7m to sustainable livelihoods, people may be surprised that some of the grants are for yet more political work in foreign countries. £1.7m of the grants was for “economic advocacy” and £1.4m was for “human rights” and £1.2m was for “conflict resolution”. While
CAFOD does do charitable works, the real frontline work of the organisation in genuine charitable and non-political fields amounts to about half of the organisation’s expenditure…

I regard most of the charitable sector in the UK as a vast scam. It may be legal what they do, but in my eyes these charities are run in the interests of their UK employees, and in fact could be seen, morally, if not legally, as embezzling charitable donations to spend on themselves. There needs to be legal maximum that charity workers can spend on themselves, and that needs to be below the national average wage. Eg: a max of £20K a year with no pension contributions or “expenses”, whether for the directors or anyone else. There needs to be much more pro bono work for charities and much less creaming off donations into personal bank accounts. By reducing salaries to £20K a year and deleting political campaigning in the UK and political work in the third world, CAFOD would save £17m, producing a 70% increase in the funds available for real frontline work on disaster relief and sustainable livelihoods. Now why do I think that’s NOT going to happen…'

None of this surprises me given the institutionalised nature of the large UK charities.