It hardly seems possible that a year has passed since Talbot Heath school’s fundraising efforts for Godfrey's cooperative in Rwanda took place – the iPledge 130. A remarkable feat of fundraising, in excess of £6000, marked the 130th birthday of Talbot Heath, and meant that Godfrey has been able to purchase many items for the cooperative: bicycles, a motorbike and trailer; a full irrigation system for the banana plantation; a fodder machine, seeds and much, much more. I am lucky enough to receive updates from Godfrey every few weeks, including many photographs of the improvements happening at the cooperative. So much has occurred in the last twelve months and Godfrey is most insistent that I pass on his thanks and let people know how the cooperative and Dufatanye Ministry are supporting the local families.
Children and adults come together at the Ministry Centre for Craft, Art and English lessons every Saturday. The children receive a nutritious milk drink from the dairy herd and are supported in learning skills to help them secure work in the future.
Recently Godfrey has been able to attend a three day workshop on fish farming and the cooperative now has its own ponds, which are stocked with fish and helping to supplement the local diet. Just last month Godfrey discovered an unwelcome invader in their ponds - an invasive Cray fish species - we have had some interesting email conversations where I have been trying to explain how to cook and prepare these for the table!
Fifty watering cans, rakes and seeds were also purchased locally so that more people could become involved in the farm's activities. Godfrey has recently requested more seeds from England, as previous ones have cropped heavily and he is keen to get in contact with the seed companies here and see whether we can build on the links being made. Despite having extreme drought conditions for the past six months, they have managed to produce bumper crops, in part due to the irrigation system funded last year by our school community.
The 24th February was a big day in the local calendar; certificates were awarded to the youth who have attended training at Akazi Kanoze (work, well done) and the ministry handed over two houses they had just finished building for the homeless. The guest of honour was the Governor of Southern Province, whom Godfrey was keen to impress with his recent achievements and future plans. So what does the future hold? Not surprisingly Godfrey has many grand plans - currently he is looking for volunteers who would be interested in coming and working with the cooperative for an extended period of time. Therefore I will be investigating local charities and university student 'gap year schemes' on his behalf.
I'm sure you would agree with me that Godfrey Kalema is a most inspirational man, an asset to his community and a close friend of Talbot Heath school. If anyone would like more information on any of Godfrey's projects or is interested in supporting him further, please contact me through the school office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Godfrey has asked me to pass on his words: "May God richly bless you all."