Hartshead, Hightown, Roberttown and Scholes raised over £1,000 for children in Mara to help pay for new books after the congregations were moved by the story of a school girl who spent weeks earning money to pay for her studies.
The Revd Stephen Rochell, Assistant Curate in Hartshead, Hightown, Roberttown and Scholes, took the image (left) in 2012 and it inspired this year’s fundraising for the Seeds of Hope project during the harvest seasons for those in the Diocese of Mara. Fr Stephen explains, “I was visiting Mara and Issenye High School along with a group of parishioners and our vicar Revd Canon Maggie McLean”. The group was led Bill and Maureen Jones from Christ the King Church, Battyeford, who had both lived and worked in Tanzania - Bill was the first Headteacher of Issenye and Maureen set up the Isseco Health Centre at the school, providing health care for both the school and wider community. “We had been to Buhemba Rural Agricultural College and they wanted to show us one of their projects that involved villagers pressing oil from seeds.”
In the Diocese of Mara villagers use a press to crush the seeds which produce oil that makes soap. This is then sold to some of the Safari Lodges in the Serengeti.
The girl in the photograph had been collecting seeds for a few weeks and was selling them to be pressed – she would get the equivalent of a few pounds which she would spend on school books. “The girl just walked up whilst we were there,” Fr Stephen continues. “When Arthur (Mauya - one of the members of the group on the trip] asked her about the seeds she had collected, and then explained to us what she was going to do, we were all gobsmacked!”
The Revd Richard Burge, Vicar of Hartshead, Hightown, Roberttown and Scholes, introduced the Seeds of Hope project after seeing the image and hearing the story from Bill and Maureen Jones who were speaking at a Tanzania evening in Heartshead. The aim of the project was to raise money for the link parishes in Tanzania so the children could buy school books.Revd Richard Burge made the project central to this year’s Harvest Festival and school Harvest Festival, simply asking people to donate a little money at the end of each service if they felt able.
Fr Stephen says, “People responded generously and as a result we are able to send a thousand pounds to our brothers and sisters in Tanzania.” He mentions, “Since my first visit I have returned to Tanzania to undertake a two week placement working with the diocesan development team in Musoma and the surrounding area. “I was the first student on the Yorkshire Ministry Course to undertake a placement in Mara but I am pleased that since others have been able to experience placements in Tanzania and that the Yorkshire Ministry Course is developing links with Bunda Bible College in Mara.”
Our diocesan link with Mara began in 1988. There have been many visits in both directions. Many parishes pray for their link church every Sunday. Schools exchange letters and photos and learn about each other. Clergy training is supported, and agricultural projects are funded. This blog, written by different people, will keep us up to date with life in Tanzania, our relationship with one another, and events happening locally to support our links.