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The prefect present — a dung vat

13 December 2007

by Margaret Holness, Education Correspondent

FOUR sixth-formers at St Aidan’s C of E High School, Harrogate, in Yorkshire, have been doing a brisk trade in vats to turn elephant dung into paper. At a fiver each, the vats are on sale through the charity that the foursome has set up to support Neema Crafts, a project in the diocese of Ruaha, Tanzania, which provides employment and medical assistance for disabled people.

Under the slogan “What do you buy for someone who has everything? — the chance to help someone who has nothing”, the organisation Zawadi (Swahili for “gifts”) offers fellow pupils the chance to buy gifts from a “wish list” of medical and craft equipment.

The most expensive medical gift is an orthopaedic operation at £150; the cheapest is typhoid treatment at £3. For the crafts workshop, items range from a spinning wheel at £180 to safety goggles at £3. But the most popular gift is the elephant dung vat, says Marion Farrar, business manager of St Aidan’s, who has contributed commercial tips to the venture.

Judy Hooper, a geography teacher at St Aidan’s, and her husband, the Revd Paul Hooper, who is Vicar of St Mark’s, Harrogate, home church of the CMS missionaries Andy and Susie Hart who run Neema Crafts, visited the project last year.

She says: “Disability is a stigma in Tanzania; so employment offered by the centre has changed the lives of the workers, allowing them to play a full part in the life of the community.” Two Year 10 pupils who, for work experience, undertook building work at the project found their stay “life-changing”.

A website has been set up by a St Aidan’s pupil, Robert Umpleby.


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