African Village School, Ekudzeni, Swaziland, South Africa


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Tractor Project

Following the airing of the television program “Going Native” on Channel 4 in August/September 2001 we sat down as a family to discuss how we could give something back to the community we had lived in for 3 months.

It was decided Robert would return to Swaziland to meet with the homesteads elders to ascertain their priority of needs. Any project we decided to undertake had to adhere to the following criteria –

  1. The community must have ownership of the project
  2. It must be sustainable
  3. It must not alter the structure of the community

Rob therefore went back to the homestead in 2002 and after meeting with the elders they expressed a desire to own their own tractor. This would have a dual purpose – it would help increase productivity during busy seasons of harvesting and ploughing (currently done by hand) but also would be able to be rented out to neighbouring villages at a small charge to bring in a valuable income whilst assisting their neighbours at the same time.

Rob returned home and we set about the daunting task of raising the necessary £5000 required to buy a second hand vehicle. Robert ran two marathons (New York and Paris) for which he was sponsored, we held a Black Tie Ball and had a couple of generous donations by mid 2002 Rob was able to return to Swaziland and purchase the tractor. He had another meeting with the community and they expressed a desire to have a local primary school.

The nearest school at that time was at Zombodze – several kilometres away. Children as young as 6 had to leave at sunrise in order to get to school on time, do a full days studying, repeat the journey, complete numerous household chores and do their homework all before dark. It was an exhausting and punishing schedule – infact our son Daniel attended this school during our stay but Chloe, at 8 years old, never did go because she found the journey too difficult.

The idea of raising money to build a local community primary school was something that touched all of us and the rest of the story continues………….

Sadly by May 2011 it has become apparent that our trusty tractor is clearly on it's "last legs" and we will soon need to think about raising money to replace it.


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