In September 2015, Drs Hilary and Adrian Murray from Bala, visited their link parish, Milo. Here Hilary reports on their trip (this article was published in Teulu Asaph in February/March 2016)
We in Christ Church, Bala, accepted a link with a parish in Tanzania just over three years ago and then wondered how to make the link work. It soon became clear that we needed to visit.
In April 2013, Adrian and I visited Milo, 6,000ft high in the mountains and a three hours’ drive from Njombe. There we met as many people as possible to learn about the village and make contacts with all those who had mobile phones and emails!
We reported back, not just to our church but to other groups in the community of Bala and were delighted with the response. We returned in September 2013 with letters from Bala town council, the school and the church, some simple equipment for the hospital, a laptop and printer for the school and strip and footballs from Bala Football Club.
Adrian and I have headed up the youth work in Christ Church for the past ten years. In 2014 we asked the older youth group if anyone would consider visiting Milo to do a project. After initial general interest, two young people stood out by their determination and commitment to going. With help from the South West Tanganyika Association, our church, community, Bala Rotary Club, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor, funds and equipment were raised for a three and a half week visit in September 2015. Iwan Edwards, with Adrian, was to build a workbench and equip it with carpentry tools to start a training programme for AIDS orphans and disadvantaged boys that the church in Milo wanted to set up. Katie Williams, with Hilary, was to teach English in the Primary School.
Iwan is a Carpentry student at Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor in Dolgellau. When Paul Sellers, the author of the ‘Working Wood’ course heard what he was doing, he donated his full course of DVDs to leave with the students, worth about £150. Many people donated tools or money to buy them and we took 150Kg of tools and equipment with us. Five carpenters in Milo each volunteered to give a day a week to teach the 16 students and we have since heard that the teaching project is going well.
The Head of Milo Primary School was impressed with our Western teaching methods and has put some into practice. He aspires to come to the UK to learn more and we hope to help him. The technology we gave has resulted in the exam pass rate improving from 50% to 90% due to the ability to print exam papers for each student.
We seem to be expanding our link to involve the whole valley down from Milo. With help from other supporters in the UK, we have just provided the hospital with a new vehicle. It is also clear that as we do more, the community in Milo is motivated to start projects that we can help with. Improving the water supply is the next big project and we have started a £2000 fund raising campaign.
We have begun with two young people who are now determined to return to Milo for a longer time. Their eyes have been opened to the wider world. Using them as ambassadors, we hope to encourage more young people to do the same. Two foci of the Diocesan conference and 2020 vision are – engagement with the community and engagement with young people. Three years into our parish link, this is one of the ways it is happening. I hope we can inspire other parishes to consider a link in Tanzania.
Dr Hilary Murray lives in Bala and is married to Adrian Murray. Both are doctors and members of the South West Tanganyika Association. Iwan and Katie are undertaking a round of speaking engagements around Bala to raise awareness of their visit and encourage more fund-raising for Milo.