"When I was eighteen I somehow got selected for Voluntary Service Overseas. I found myself out beyond the outback in Uganda - fifteen miles from the nearest, post box, no phone, little electricity, and one small shop. I had been given the job of teaching class 2d at Kamuli College, Namasagali – on the banks of the Nile 2cess to 200 km from Kampala.
There were perhaps 70 young boys and girls in my class. It was all I could do to keep a page ahead of them in the limited number of textbooks to which they had access.
What I learned in that formative experience of living in Africa for just over a year, was that despite appalling inadequacies of resource, the children had as much learning capacity, enthusiasm, and potential as any of their counterparts in the North. Given the chance, given the opportunity, these young people could and would succeed. They didn’t need me so much as the resources that I could summon from my family and friends at home – the writing materials, the books, the paper, the set squares and the rest that would enable them to prove their capacity and ability.
That’s precisely why I support AMREF. There’s no patronizing sense in which outsiders from the North have to be sent to run programmes or deploy resources. AMREF is about empowering Africans to teach, nurse, administer, and inspire Africans. All the overseas staff are indigenous.
But it is also AMREF’s priorities that I’m inspired by. Women and children, mothers and babies. The vast dependence of the UK’s own health service on nursing personnel from all over Africa speak to very real skills that lie within African society. AMREF is harnessing these skills and some of these same personnel to provide organic leadership in that most fundamental of human rights – access to health care.
AMREF has recognized that without health, education suffers, without health economics suffer, without health people suffer. That’s again why I support AMREF in putting health right at the very heart of what they do.
All those years ago I felt I connected with an organic educational need. Today, through AMREF, I feel a real connection with answering that need – particularly in health but in education and much else beside."