Blog | Africa calling! A community project heads overseas
In 2010, Berkshire Scouts decided to introduce more international adventure into their programme, and Project Africa was born. Five years on, everyone from Beavers to Explorers have been able to get involved!
‘The best way for an international community project to get off the ground is to capture the imagination of the young people and leaders who are taking part,’ explains Project Manager Mick Stocks.
This premise has been the key, in many ways, to the success of Project Africa, the newest feather in the cap of Berkshire Scouts’ extensive international offering.
The project’s first international visit was to Uganda in 2011, when the County took 90 Explorers and leaders to the Bukeka Children’s Centre in central Uganda and to the Kavule School for the Deaf to its east. There, the Scouts began the construction of a number of much-needed buildings including classrooms, a kitchen and a washroom, at the schools.
The Scouts’ Project Africa will be doing the same when it heads back to Uganda this summer – 50 Explorers and eight Network members will build three new classrooms at the Butagaya Primary School. The second part of Uganda 2015 will be at the nearby Iwololo Primary School, where many classrooms need refurbishing.
Raising funds is, of course, a massive part of the project. Each of the young people going on the trip will be expected to raise £2,450 in order to meet their costs, but £250 of the money will go towards funding the building work in Uganda.
In addition to the money raised for the buildings in Uganda, Project Africa has been supporting teachers at the Bukeka Children’s Centre – the first school they worked with in 2011 – at a cost of £3,000 a year.
The leadership team of Project Africa have put processes in place to ensure that it’s as straightforward as possible for young people to get started. They also run information evenings for parents, leaders and young people to ensure that expectations are laid out right at the beginning of the project and that there are no financial surprises further down the line.
When it came to raising funds for Uganda 2015, the participants have truly got stuck in! From quiz and race nights to live band performances, marmalade making to cake sales.
One mum spoke about her son who had organised a ‘night at the races’ to raise money with one of his friends. At the end of the evening, the pair announced they had raised £800. An audience member stood up, explained that he had enjoyed the evening immensely and offered to double the amount.
According to the boy’s mum, there’s no way her son would have had the confidence and initiative to run such a thing before joining this project. ‘He’s already growing,’ she said, ‘and it will only continue when he gets to Africa.’
Getting involved at home
It’s not just the participants who benefit from Project Africa. For Beavers, Cubs and Scouts, there’s the opportunity to take part in the Global Awareness Programme, culminating in the Project Africa Challenge Badge.
‘It has always been important to the leadership team that every section should have the chance to feel involved in the project and the international adventure,’ explains Mick, ‘and the way we see it, we’re preparing the participants of tomorrow!’
While Scouts at 1st Cookham chose to dress up in traditional costume, eat traditional foods and learn some words in African languages, 13th Maidenhead’s Young Leaders ran a programme on Uganda for Beavers including local games, paper-making and a bucket balance relay.
There’s a real sense that it doesn’t matter exactly what Project Africa might look like in the future, as long as Scouts from the county continue to be supported to help others in need. At the heart Project Africa is the idea of young people helping young people. As long as that continues, then Project Africa has been a success.
Fancy getting involved? Find out more information on the Project Africa website.