In partnership with the High Five Club
Robbie’s ambition was to start his career in Africa having just been awarded a scholarship to study a prestigious Master’s degree at Sussex University in ‘Development, Policy and Environment’. His interest in environmental matters was evident from an early age and there is no doubt that he would have thrown himself into the course in typical Robbie fashion in the same enthusiastic way he tackled everything. Sadly this wasn’t to be, but R World has taken over the reins to continue his wish to make a difference in African communities which will make Robbie proud of everything he has inspired.
Fundraising for African projects will raise the eyebrows of some and it has been a steep learning curve for the R World team. Reports of corruption being ‘endemic, brazen and seemingly unstoppable’ in Africa and ‘the powerful elite which is robbing Africa of its riches’ is without doubt daunting! There has been a lot of criticism about how official development aid has focused on huge projects which have ‘sapped’ local initiative, harmed the environment and led to social injustices. Concerts such as Live Aid and major fundraising initiatives such as Comic Relief of course perpetuate the idea of Africa as a helpless continent incapable of helping itself when the opposite is actually true. In the end, this type of dead aid doesn’t bring about economic growth and does nothing to increase the skill-set of local communities.
To ensure that no precious funds raised by our supporters are wasted, we recognized that we needed some expertise; someone knowledgeable about how aid works in Africa to avoid the many pitfalls. A partnership with the High Five Club was our answer, their ethos resonating perfectly with our own. With this charity’s founders Cheryl and Manny Mvula, we aim to empower local communities to bring about their own development. To avoid a minefield of red tape and bureaucracy the High Five Club work directly with the tribal leadership at the grass-roots level rather than the government which eliminates the risk of corruption and large administrative costs, to keep the cost down and the money going where it needs to – straight to the ground in Africa.
The High Five Club are involved in all sorts of brilliant projects and for now we have chosen to contribute to their work in education by funding a school extension at one of the community schools they partner with in the Luangwa Valley – namely Chitenga or Chinjobvu Community Schools. This is situated in one of the most rural areas of Zambia where people live in abject poverty alongside the wildlife-rich South Luangwa National Park. The community themselves will hand-make the bricks and collect the sand and stones needed for the build from the natural resources around them. The build will be managed by their Community Resources Board and High Five Club’s Coordinator in Zambia.
In 2020, it was reported that in Africa over one fifth of children between the ages of 6-11 are out of school, followed by a third of youths between the ages of 12-14. Many children are destined to leave school at 10-11 years old and they usually become subsistence farmers like their parents. It will be so rewarding to make a difference in rural Zambia in some small way by working with the High Five Club to build this school extension thereby giving more children hope for the future and the opportunity for the community to life themselves out of poverty rather than depending on well-meaning, but ultimately disempowering, hand-outs.
An example of the new classrooms already built can be seen below left and one of the ‘make-shift’ schools which we would be replacing is below right. We’d like to build a 2-classroom block extension which would enable an additional 200 children to go to school. These children would otherwise have to walk ca. 10 km to the nearest government school, facing dangerous wildlife like hippos, lions, leopards and elephants on the way. Either that or they will continue to be taught in a make-shift school made out of mud, with a grass roof and open sides. These let in the rain and you will see that they have no desks, text books or learning resources. Building these new classrooms will cost £10,000. Together with some of the funds already raised and grant applications in progress, we would like to put the wheels into motion for this to happen by 2022.
Bursary for Students : thanks to Robbie’s connection with Nottingham University, a Master’s degree student will benefit from a bursary to have a potentially life-changing experience to carry out their dissertation research in the Luangwa Valley in Zambia where the Chitenga Community School is situated. Students studying international development and wishing to carry out their dissertation research in rural Zambia, will be asked to put forward a proposal which will be assessed by the course leader, the High Five Club and R World. The first R World funded student will travel to Zambia in 2022 unless there are further Covid travel restrictions, and we hope that the research carried out will bring further benefits to this Zambian community. Through working with the local community and benefitting from the connections of the High Five Club, this student will be given a precious insight into the culture and know-how of the local people, the issues they face and their own potential solutions.
There are other projects bubbling along in the background, but as a new charity, we will keep these under our hat until we are sure we can make them happen. So more about these in the coming months/years …..