Cardiff Charity helping families stay together in Uganda

Monday 14th May 2018

(One of the families that have been supported by the project)

Trio Uganda who are based in the capital city, have recently returned from Uganda where they have been developing an outreach programme to work with the poorest families in the community, those living on under 65p a day.

The work by Trio Uganda and their partners in Uganda, Nauyo Community Action (NCA), aims to provide them with the essentials they need to survive and prevent the children from becoming abandoned by families who can no longer afford to care for them. This can range from practical things like ensuring they have food, beds and blankets as well as much needed immunisations for the children.

One of the challenges the project has been facing is that many funders of projects now prioritise income generation and self-help as solutions to poverty, dismissing 'safety net' initiatives fearing that they create a dependency.

Coordinator of Trio Uganda, Jon Sait, explains: “Because the level of poverty for these families is so low, they have no way of getting out of this cycle of poverty. Many of the impacts on the families we are working with are beyond their control such as their age, chronic illness and disability.  

“Our intervention breaks the cycle of poverty and helps get them to a place where they can recover to have a basic level of living and improved health, then we can work with them to develop opportunities to become self-reliant and increase their income and improve their own lives.”

Trio Uganda and NCA have been monitoring the impact of their interventions to make sure they are effective and that the families they support are able to stay together and reduce the number of children who are abandoned or enter other forms of care. 

The project was funded through the Welsh Government Wales for Africa programme with support from Hub Cymru Africa. 

Liz Rees, Grants Support Officer at Hub Cymru Africa said: “Jon’s expertise, having worked with Home-Start, a leading UK family support charity, has provided an excellent foundation for him to be able to transfer his skills and knowledge to family work in Uganda.

“We have been impressed with what they have managed to deliver on a small budget and their commitment to developing sustainable community care in the Nauyo slum in the Mbale Region of Uganda.”

Welsh charity bringing light and Raspberry Pis to Zambian classrooms

Tuesday 1 May 2018

(Howard from Giakonda, working with people from the local community to install the solar panels)

Giakonda Solar Schools from Cwmbran has been using the Welsh built Raspberry Pi computers and LED lights powered by solar panels to transform classrooms in rural Zambia into community learning hubs.

In a country where sunshine is plentiful, Giakonda Solar Schools decided that the solar panels would be the perfect sustainable source to provide energy for the schools.
The panels were installed by people from the local community in the Siavonga region, following some brief training, to power the IT and provide themselves with the opportunity to develop their IT skills.

This is done using the RACHEL platform, an offline server full of educational content from teaching curriculums, Wikipedia, classic literature, reference material and textbooks installed on the Raspberry Pis.

Giakonda Solar Schools have also been working with the Ministry of Education in Zambia to see how the technology can help children achieve key points set out in the national curriculum.

Wendy Kirkman of Giakonda Solar Schools said: “The remoteness of one of the schools we helped, which can only be accessed by boat presented quite a few challenges, but the eagerness and resolute nature of the people in the local community, helped us get all the equipment in place.

“As well as IT equipment, we decided to take an engineer and sanitation officer to check the village facilities and water supply. This helped ensure that the risks of cholera were minimised and that the old damaged water pump was repaired.”

The latest installation of solar panels, means that Giakonda Solar Schools have managed to train and install equipment in 11 of the 26 off grid schools in the region.

The project was funded by the Welsh Government with support from Hub Cymru Africa.

Hannah Sheppard at Hub Cymru Africa said: “The most pleasing element about this project is that local people are now able to install and manage the equipment themselves. Partnership work with buy in from the local authorities means that the long-term success of this work will help develop much needed IT skills and provide teaching materials to rural communities.”

Giakonda Solar Schools have since returned to Wales and are planning their next set of installations and awareness raising activities as well as looking at how they can work alongside other Welsh charities to support IT developments and other development opportunities in rural Zambia.

Can you help to repair machines and improve lives?

Monday 30 April 2018

(The sewing machines are put to good use in Tanzania (above, left), Whilst volunteers work hard to repair them at the workshop (above, right))

Welsh charity, Tools for Self Reliance Cymru (TSFR Cymru) have been fixing old tools and sewing machines for 25 years. The repaired tools are sent to Tanzania where they work with local artisans to support them with tools and help them set up their own businesses.

Their new workshop in Abergavenny is becoming an established sewing machine repair workshop, where old defunct machines are turned into well-oiled and working machines by a group of hardy volunteers.

James Nyakwibata, one of the recipients of the machines in Tanzania said: “The support I got from TFSR Cymru and their partner organisation has totally changed my life and even my family feels it. All my children are now going to school, and I am now able to buy new clothes for all my family members during Christmas. But besides all these I have never seen people who kept their promises as these TFSR Cymru people.”

However, TSFR Cymru are on the lookout for volunteers to help them make a difference and keep up with the influx of old machines that can often take days to fix. The challenge they have set themselves is around 200 machines a year.

Tony Care of Tools for Self Reliance Cymru explains: “Our focus is to provide sewing machines for the women’s groups. The women in the Tanga region are at the heart of the community and supporting them to set up tailoring businesses with our refurbished machines will bring a much-needed added income to these communities.

“If you would like to get involved or develop new skills, please get in touch with us by emailing:”

The workshop was set up with support of Hub Cymru Africa through funding from the Welsh Government.

Hannah Sheppard, Development Manager at Hub Cymru Africa said: “Tools for Self Reliance have a proven track record for helping upskill volunteers in Wales and provide them will excellent skills as well as supporting artisans in Tanzania, giving them the much-needed opportunities to improve their own lives. One of these machines alone is enough to create a small business.

“Minimising our waste is a very current topic and TSFR Cymru have been leading the way in upcycling old tools for many years, some of the machines they fix are over 100 years old!”

Support fair and transparent trade agreements

Friday 27th of April 2018

Aileen Burmeister, National Coordinator for Fair Trade Wales makes the case for new trade deals which are fair to everyone.

Nobody wants to think that things they have bought have contributed to human suffering. People in Wales, and across the UK, have long rallied to promote trade being fair for all: from free person, not slave grown, cotton products in the 1800s, to boycotts of Apartheid South Africa in the 1980s and the growth of Fairtrade products from the 1990s. Wales became the world’s first Fair Trade Nation in 2008 and today, government, business and civil society at all levels continue to show support for Fair Trade.

Trade is an important part of countries’ relationships with each other and, when done fairly, can be a foundation for creating long-term and sustainable livelihoods for poor producers and farmers. Unfortunately many trade deals end in creating unfair rules and tariffs which keep people in developing countries trapped in poverty and only able to export raw products.

For more than 60 years, the Fair Trade movement has worked to demonstrate that an alternative and fair way of trading that benefits all is possible.

As the UK withdraws from the EU, trade is one of the most contentious areas. Trade and Customs Bills have been laid in Parliament but it is still unclear what the process of negotiating new trade deals might be, and what the impact of not having or of transferring trade deals across from the EU will have on Wales, the rest of the UK and other countries around the world. Whatever the outcome, there will be a large impact on Wales and on our international relationships.

Farmers and workers in developing countries could suffer if new trade deals with the UK impose barriers to them exporting products to us. The EU currently has decent trading terms with many developing countries but the UK could do even better.

After much civil society campaigning last year the UK Government made a commitment to carry over the EU commitments for duty-free market access to the world’s 48 officially designated Least Developed Countries (LDCs): the countries that produce 79% of the tea we drink. This was a great commitment, and has since been put into the Customs Bill, but it hasn’t clarified things for developing countries not classified as LDCs like South Africa, India and Colombia. We’d like these preferential schemes to be available to other vulnerable economies.

As it currently stands, Wales will have no say in future trade deals made by the UK Government even though new deals could impact some of its current legislative areas and Wales may have to pay private companies recompense for legislative decisions made by the National Assembly. This is due to possible Investor State Dispute Settlements (ISDS), controversial mechanisms present in several current international trade deals, such as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). This enables foreign investors to take States to ‘closed’ international tribunals if they believe a policy undermines their profitability.

For example in 1997, Canada was taken to tribunal by an US chemical company for banning MMT, a toxic additive that was already banned in the US. The case was settled within the private tribunal system and Canada paid the company, lifted the ban on MMT, and had to state that MMT was safe. Other examples of ISDS being used against countries’ policy decisions include: raising the minimum wage of public sector workers in Egypt; placing a moratorium on fracking in Canada; preventing environmental degradation in El Salvador, and and taxing and regulating high sugar junk food in Mexico.

For too long, trade deals have been agreed without proper scrutiny or accountability to the public. It is too easy for social and environmental considerations to be ignored and the voices of poor communities dismissed. We must make sure our future trade is guided by poverty reduction, sustainable development and democracy.

We must raise our voices in support of fair trading arrangements in the future. Both in the interests of Wales and those of our friends in South and Central America, Africa and Asia who grow our coffee, make our clothes and stitch our rugby balls.

In Wales, we should push this case with gusto. So many groups throughout Wales have direct relationships with communities, schools, hospitals, NGOs and universities in Africa and across developing countries. Farmers in Wales and across the world deserve fair treatment and fair prices. Not only were we the world’s first Fair Trade Nation, our Well-being of Future Generations legislation requires all levels of government to be globally responsible.

Fair Trade Wales is working with partners across the UK to advocate for new trade deals which benefit everyone. Through our network, our key suggestions are to:

  • Secure and improve market access for developing countries in ways that support their development priorities – in line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  • Ensure trade deals are negotiated with a proper democratic process, including scrutiny from Parliament, devolved administrations, civil society and the public
  • Carry out impact assessments of each negotiated trade deal with larger economies, investigating how they will affect smaller economies, not just economically but also environmentally and socially.

Of course the Welsh Government must stand up for the interests of Wales as debates on new trade deals progress, but we hope that it, and Welsh MPs, will also remember the millions of people around the world relying on us to engage in trade which is fair and supports their economic development.

Fair Trade Wales is part of the Hub Cymru Africa partnership which is funded by the Welsh Government.

Ugandan High Commissioner visits South Wales

Thursday 26 April 2018

(The Ugandan High Commissioner, His Excellency Mr Julius Peter Moto)

The Ugandan High Commissioner, His Excellency Mr Julius Peter Moto accompanied by Godfrey Kwoba, Minister – Counsellor in charge of economic & commercial matters are currently on a 4 day visit to south Wales.

These are a part of efforts to engage with the Ugandan diaspora community, to build links with charities working in the country and to look at partnership and opportunities for commercial and economic collaboration.

The visit to Wales is being supported by the Cardiff based charity the Sub Sahara Advisory Panel, who support members of the African Diaspora in Wales and are part of the Hub Cymru Africa partnership.

On the first day of their visit by H.E. Moto was to the headquarters of the Brecon Beacons National Park authority to discuss how the park operates commercially and to share the experiences and challenges faced by national parks in Uganda and any links.

Fadhili Maghiya of the Sub Sahara Advisory Panel said: “An important part of our focus is to provide opportunities for collaboration and partnership between African nations and Wales. The diaspora communities which we work closely with play important roles in their communities in Wales, but also often have strong connections with their nations of origin. We try to harness this by developing skills and opportunities in both directions.”

His Excellency, Julius Moto said: “Wales has a unique relationship with Uganda and I am keen to see how we can grow this relationship to serve both countries.

“I found the visit to the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority (BBNPA) extremely informative and I will be relaying what I learnt to my counterparts in Uganda. I’m also excited to hear about the work Welsh charities are doing in Uganda and meet member of our diaspora community over the coming days.”

The visit is the second visit by a Ugandan High Commissioner in the last couple of years, showing the importance placed on developing relations with Wales.

Julian Atkins, Chief Executive of the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority said: “We were delighted to welcome His Excellency, Mr. Moto to our National Park and we greatly enjoyed the opportunity to share the challenges that face National Parks in our two countries as well as discussing some of the potential solutions.”

In the coming days the High Commissioner will be in Cardiff to meet with several grassroots Wales based charities that work in Uganda to learn about their work and to see how the Ugandan Government can work closely with them to deliver key benefits to the country.