2017 February Newsletter – Irmelili Pre-school, CHEP and VICOBA Loans

WTWT NEWSLETTER                  February 2017



Dear Loyal Supporters


I have just returned from another moving visit to Tanzania to see our projects.


I was pleased to see the progress but pained by the level of hunger the communities are suffering at the moment. It is common for people’s diet to be reduced to one mug of watery maize meal per day during the dry seasons when the cows and goats are getting thin. This year there has been a severe drought, the November to January rains having failed. Many livestock have died and the people are particularly hungry.




This time we finally managed to visit the new partly built preschool in Irmelili. It is in a remote location high up in the Rift Valley wall hills. It took us six and a half hours to walk up from the valley floor. The temperature was 35 degrees centigrade and the sun shone : ) There is no road and at first the path is steep and stony, zig-zagging across the mountain. Later it levels out to a more gentle, but steady climb.


We passed pregnant women and women with their babies on their backs going down for antenatal care and vaccinations at the clinic in the village on the valley floor. As usual when passing people, we stopped to talk. They told us how difficult it is for them with no road. When women have problems in childbirth they sometimes die on this path, whilst being carried down for assistance.


Meeting pregnant women on their way down the mountain for antenatal care

When we finally arrived in Irmelili we could see the classroom on a hill ahead and women gathered around waiting to greet us.


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As we got nearer we could hear them singing. I ran the last bit, impatient to see them and was engulfed in hugs and kisses, ululations and dancing. They said they didn’t dream they could ever have a class for their children.


Meeting the women at last, after our journey

We met the children inside the classroom, sitting on little rocks by way of seats until their chairs are made (we saw the wood ready to make them).


Children sitting on their rock seats

The teacher welcomed us and showed us the register for the children. Sometimes there were absences marked for children who were too hungry to come to school. The teacher requested that we fund porridge for the children each day. We have applied for extra funding to be able to do this.


Building the classroom has been slow and difficult. The villager’s donkeys were used to transport the sand and cement up the track from the valley floor. Two donkeys died on the way. Completion is awaiting the donkeys’ return to strength after the drought.

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A donkey carrying supplies to the village


We also visited the preschool in Loresho that we are funding. Work started in January and already the foundations are complete and the walls half built. This is the first school serving the two villages of Loresho Juu and Loresho Chini. It means that the children from these villages will now be able to attend school without the danger of walking past buffalo to neighbouring villages. To date very few children from these villages have attended school.


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The mothers at the ceremony of thanks for the preschool


Community Health Education Programme (CHEP)


Talking with the women and men attending we could hear that this programme is also greatly valued by the community. Since the start of the programme in October 2016 there have been dramatic changes in health behaviour:


Some of the most notable being:

  • The percentage of pregnant women receiving antenatal care before third trimester has gone from 26 – 92%
  • The percentage of children vaccinated has gone from 30 – 97%
  • The percentage of women of the reproductive age using family-planning methods has more than doubled from 24% to 52%


We work in collaboration with Dr. Shemaghembe, who has worked hard to increase the number of outreach vaccination clinics. He also plans outreach antenatal clinics.



We attended another CHEP class about social norms on this visit, which started with songs sung by the daughters of the women attending. They sung about their problems and solutions:


  • Women are not given power
  • Girls are often not allowed to go to school
  • If you help one lady you help the whole community, it is not only men who help the community

The girls stayed in for this class discussing both gender equality and child marriage. The teachers explained to us that it was good for them to hear. They explain to the girls that if their father plans to marry them below 18, they can come to them and they will intercede for them. Child marriage was made illegal in Tanzania last year.

We also heard the people discussing gender equality. One elder man thought things should be more equal, but not 50-50. At that point all of the women started banging their fists on the table in disagreement!


One woman said that often mothers want their children to go to school, but the fathers do not, and refuse permission. It was recommended they got village leaders for support in these cases, as it is a legal requirement to go to school. Once a child’s name has been registered at school, the family is visited if the child does not attend.


Everyone in the class seemed to agree that child marriage should end, that girls as well as boys should go to school and that FGC must stop. They said that convincing the wider community was going to take a lot more education and conversation. They assured us that class participants share information on the issues with their communities and that this is was the way forward.



Loans for women


A positive development in this area has been women starting their own VICOBA groups: Village Community Banks. The women select 15 to 30 members and contribute a weekly amount to build up capital, which can then be loaned. They choose the amount and terms of the loan.


Some of these groups have requested training, support and loan money from WTWT. We feel this will be a better way of working, as the women themselves have ownership and control of their own system.


When our current loans are returned we will reloan the money to womens’ VICOBA groups.




We are hugely grateful for all your financial support and your encouragement of our work. Without you we could not do any of this.

As always, our flights, expenses and administration are paid by ourselves, so all of your donations go directly to the community projects.

If any more of you would like to make a donation or set up a standing order, we would be extremely grateful, as would the people in Ngorongoro.

Our bank account is: ‘Weston Turville Wells for Tanzania’ at Lloyds TSB, account number: 00087400, sort code 30-90-38. Cheques can be made payable to ‘WTWT’ and posted to our address.


With much love and thanks

Rachel and WTWT trustees here in the UK and staff in Tanzania:

Rachel, David and Daniel Blackmore, Michael Hasler, Ruth Cornish, Suchita Raja, Viv Pangalos, Helen Williams, Ponja Tayai, Laangakwa Twati, Embapa Oloishiro, Esupat Oloulu, Peesoi Runguna


Rachel Blackmore

Weston Turville Wells for Tanzania (WTWT)

Registered UK charity No: 1125141

Registered office: Old Crown, West End, Weston Turville, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP22 5TT

Email: racheljblackmore@gmail.com


Phone: +441296 614751 (land line) or +447792 475094 (mobile)