Author Archive

Herve’s Story

Herve with Mum shortly after his Operation

Dick Wheelock writes:

HATW has been working in a small town called Affame in Benin, for the last fifteen years.

About 11 years ago, Margaret Coupe, a nurse/volunteer, on visiting Affame, came across a young boy called Herve who had a club foot. She subsequently arranged to have it operated on the Mercy Ship, when it docked in Cotonou. Margaret then undertook to keep Herve supplied with corrective boots.

On my first visit to Affame, about a year later, Margaret had asked me to check up on Herve to make sure he was wearing his boots. Off I set on the back of a motorbike for the six or seven Km. drive, along some rough and steep tracks, to the tiny isolated village where Herve and his family live. On arrival, the village elder sent someone to seek out Herve. Moments later a small boy stepped out of a hut without a stitch of clothing on but wearing his boots!

As I later got to know his mother, it became apparent that she was quite determined to always do her best for him. It also seemed that the whole village was adding this support. Thus Herve never had the chance of going barefoot again until he was completely healed..

The next time I visited Herve in his village several years later, it was to meet this fine upstanding youth who was the pride of his school football team and had no sign of his former handicap. He incidentally spoke about the best French I have ever heard from a junior school student in Benin.

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It’s hard to learn when you’re hungry…

Chris Barrell writes:

I have just returned from my annual visit to Monze, Zambia. An important objective is to assess how PIZZ School is developing. It is possible to get information through reports and pictures, but to get a proper understanding of the situation you really have to visit!

The joy for me is to see happy, healthy children laughing and enjoying life. This might not seem to be a great achievement to us here, but the staff at PIZZ School tell me that for many of their students, when they started school it seemed impossible for them to smile. The children have generally had a very traumatic life and part of this is living not knowing where their next meal will come from and when it will arrive. Having a regular meal at school takes away some of this stress and gives them a chance to deal with some of their other challenges.

I watched a football match where PIZZ School were playing a neighbouring school. The celebration when they scored a goal showed me that we are doing a wonderful job! The children were full of joy, excitement and energy. Without the school meals this wouldn’t be possible.

Thank you for your support and please keep these children smiling!

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Not quite the visit I’d planned…

Ben Luck has just returned from Zambia. He writes:

I thought I was going to Monze to help install solar lighting equipment in Pizz School, and I had been preparing by studying the manual and collecting the tools and equipment we needed. But that’s not what happened, for the whole month I was there the equipment was stuck at Lusaka airport, impounded by customs. While this was frustrating and disappointing, it also meant that I could spend my time in Monze (it was my first visit) in a different way. I had more time just to be there, to meet and spend time with people, to shop in the market. I was lucky to go out with Chris Barrell who has been there for many years and has many friends.

Also, I was able to spend time visiting children and families in their homes. Pizz has a wonderful system of care givers, ladies who live in different parts of the community and who have ‘their ear to the ground’, in other words they know where the children are in greatest need, and when a family is experiencing particular difficulties. So I was able to go out visiting with these caregivers. Briefly, and to give a flavour, these are some of the visits I made:

  • A girl who suffers from epilepsy and who had had a fit that morning. She lives with her grandmother.

  • A brother and sister who go to secondary school. But they are required to bring a packed lunch. Because they are unable to do this, they come home at midday. (Even when children have left Pizz, the care continues).

  • A girl who was unable to be at school because she was looking after her sick mother. Her mother was lying on the hard floor, with no blanket. She makes a small living by selling fish in the market, but since being ill has been unable to do this. So there was no food in the house.

  • A ten year old boy who lives with his grandmother; they were sitting on the ground shelling maize. She is ill, and lives in a small hut with eleven grandchildren.

  • A young mother who had a traffic accident when she was one month pregnant. Her beautiful daughter was born without legs.

  • A very old lady who doesn’t know how old she is but thinks over a hundred! She has been been confined to bed for many years, cared for by her daughter who is herself partially disabled through polio.

So although I was unable to install the solar lights as planned, perhaps through these visits I was able to gain a deeper understanding of everyday life in Monze, of the challenges which people face and the courage and dignity with which they do this.

Also, I was able to appreciate the value of Pizz School, not only giving a great education but also understanding and caring for the children in their home situation as well.

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On the death of Lord Joffe


We are very sad to report the death at the age of 85 of Lord Joel Joffe, a truly remarkable, kind and generous man who had helped us as a patron of HATW for 20 years. It was an honour to know him and he will be greatly missed. As a South African lawyer he defended Nelson Mandela at the Rivonia trial in 1963, and for his trouble was expelled from the country. After arriving in the UK he worked with Oxfam for many years, ultimately as Chair.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB’s Chief Executive, said:

“Joel had an enormous influence on Oxfam and its staff for over 20 years. His unswerving sense of justice and commitment to ending poverty was an inspiration to all those who worked with him. He was able to use his sharp legal mind and years of experience in business to challenge authority and increase the effectiveness of our work around the world. His fearless campaigning for care of the elderly, corporate responsibility and global development shaped the world for the better yet he always maintained his trademark self-deprecating sense of humour. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

You can read more about Joel Joffe’s long and varied life in his obituary:

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News from Benin


Some of the Children at Chez Papa Geoff

HATW volunteers Dick Wheelock and Nigel England have recently returned from a visit to Benin, where the Orphanage Chez Papa Geoff has now been in operation for 6 months.

Dick writes:

My responsibility is for the agricultural project which is to provide for running costs of the orphanage. The fields or “les champs,” as they are now being called have changed out of all recognition since I saw them last autumn. Now, most of the 8 hectares (20 acres) have been cleared of weeds, rank grass and non productive palm trees. There are still roots to be removed; brutally hard work in which Dieu Donne and Albert have now been joined by Justin.

Justin is the tailor who has always made school uniforms for those children who are supported by Hands Around the World, but has found his other work declining. He seems to love the change of pace and has become a valuable member of the team. Equally useful is his encyclopaedic knowledge of the locality and where, for instance, the nearest welder can be found.

April is the most important month of the year for planting maize in this region and several hectares of ground had already been prepared before our arrival. A broken injector pump on the tractor had caused a temporary hold up but we were able to bring a replacement with us. The two-row seed drill which I had built using proprietory seeder units, mounted into a far more robust frame and powered by a two-wheeled market garden tractor, was given its first real test. After a few very minor modifications and on a seed bed that was far from ideal, it worked as well as I could have hoped. At the same time as planting the seeds it also places fertiliser along the rows. On the impoverished soils of the area this will give much improved yields.

In 6 hours we were able to plant half a hectare (over 1 acre), with only one operator. A large gang, even if it were possible to recruit one at this busy season, could not plant as much by hand. The drill will also be used to plant peanuts and haricot beans later in the season. Once the maize has started to grow, manioc (cassava) will be planted between the rows giving a second crop maturing after the maize has been harvested in July / August.

There are still trees for firewood, fruit, or palm oil to be planted. As June is considered the only month wet enough for tree planting it won’t be possible to plant all that Dieu Donne would like this year. It will take several years before ‘les champs’ reach full production, but the start which has already been made is most encouraging. I look forward to seeing even more progress on future visits.

Nigel adds:

On arriving at Chez Papa Geoff (the orphanage) we were delighted to see the 11 children and young people were settled and happy. They had got used to each other and were making friends with the local children. Alice, the full time carer who joined the team last October, was making a great job of feeding the children well and getting the balance of care and discipline at the right level within the cultural setting.

Two of the boys have a disability. Epiphane has a problem with his legs and needs an operation. We are trying to get an agreement with his family to have the operation but without much success yet. Marc, who is the oldest boy in the orphanage had an ulcer on his arm when he was younger and it has left his right arm permanently bent. We have arranged for him to have the operation he needs and his mother will accompany him to the hospital.

We were able to take out clothes donated by people at my local gym and they were a great success. All the children tried on clothes for their size and chose the ones that suited them the best. They then gave us a fashion show. We also took out some footballs and taught the children a form of basketball. They had a great time. The children made up, produced and performed a play about coming into care. It was heart rending and I am talking to people I used to work with in the UK about the therapeutic benefits of this.

The solar panels we sent out were working but not to the output they should. Dick has been speaking to the manufacturer to try to sort it out.

The main building is working well and we hope that after the planting season the new well should be completed, and the water pump supplying the orphanage should be up and running. At that point and with the fields producing enough food we hope to increase the numbers of children in Chez Papa Geoff to the maximum of 24. It is expected that within two years Chez Papa Geoff should be self supporting with food and a cash crop from the fields.

We now support 110 young people in secondary education and 6 in university and 4 in apprenticeships. After visiting all the school directors we have 88 reports and at the end of the academic year we should have all 110. I am creating a system to monitor attendance and attainment records and be able to identify young people who are able to access a university place, or an apprenticeship.

Thank you for your interest as we seek to make a major and lasting difference in the lives of these children in Benin.

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Job Opportunity

HANDS AROUND THE WORLD Operations Manager – Monmouth
2.5 days per week, NJC SO1 £25,951 pro rata
18 month contract
A rare opportunity to join this small development charity working with children in Africa and India. Applicants must have excellent administration, communication and fundraising skills.
For more information and an application pack, email

Closing date 9th June, Interviews 28th June

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Please help us support needy children in Zambia

We need the following items (in good condition please) to send to Pizz School and Kaliyangile Vocational Training Centre in Zambia for 5-18 year olds…
* Clothing and footwear, including sports kit, trainers, football boots;
* Sturdy good quality toys for the reception class;
* Unbreakable bowls, cups and spoons;
* Yarn, thread, knitting needles and crochet hooks for an after-school training club;
* Pens,pencils,crayons etc;
* Books suitable for 5-18 year olds.


To arrange drop-off or collection please ring Lynda on 01600 775433 or 07895 276323
Thank you!

No items to give?
We need other things too – donations towards the cost of transport and help with packing boxes one day in July.
We are also looking for a Transit-size van with a volunteer driver and driver’s mate to deliver boxes to Folkestone and help to load into a container, late July / early August.

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Would you like to help run a holiday club in Zambia at Easter 2017?

PIZZ holiday club 2015 leapfrog

PIZZ School and Support Centre Zambia

PIZZ school and support centre is a small, organically growing educational centre set up Veronica Sianga, who whilst employed as a community outreach nurse and social worker at Monze Mission Hospital in Zambia, rapidly found herself coping with hundreds of children being bereaved by HIV/AIDS. To address this she set up PIZZ School with a huge emphasis on pastoral care and well-being, caring for them as individuals and meeting their numerous needs – love, food, clothing, housing, schooling and more. If they were not part of this nurturing environment, some would inevitably be on the streets.

Hands Around the World supports her work by building classrooms and provides funding for teachers’ and carers’ wages and daily school lunches for 380 children. The charity also operates a Child Sponsorship scheme – 44 children at PIZZ are sponsored currently – and it is steadily increasing to include more children. In the meantime however, the charity seeks funding from a number of sources to enable the school to continue its critical work until such time as the child sponsorships cover the costs.

The school enables children, mostly those who would not otherwise seek to even access education due to their situation as an orphan, street child, or a lack of money to pay for a school uniform at a state school, to enter an educational environment and be provided with a meal, the necessary equipment and pastoral support to partake.

The needs being addressed are access to and inclusion in primary education and the provision of pastoral care that is not being provided for elsewhere. These needs are being met by a local team of carers and teachers. In addition to the children’s need, there are opportunities for newly qualified teachers to build up teaching experience.

The school is evaluated by:

  • Number of pupils in attendance

  • Pupils’ educational attainment as measured by government standard grades

  • Pupils’ health and absence records

  • Number of pupils dropping out

  • Classroom observations

  • Semi-structured interviews with staff, pupils, community representatives

  • UK project coordinator’s structured feedback

  • Volunteers mainly from the UK; their structured feedback

Through the charity, a Holiday Club partners UK volunteers with the school, encouraging the school to use dance, drama, art, sport and music to educate and explore significant issues impacting on the children’s lives. Lunch is also a very important part of the reason for the club! Also, there is a gardening training project, which also helps with extra food and income for the school. The Holiday Club first took place in 2014, continued last year and a repeat is due at Easter 2017.

It’s Hard To Learn When Your Hungry!

Our Lunch Box Scheme provides each child with a school meal each day.

The lunches are simple, consisting principally of fortified maize meal or rice, but the benefits in terms of health, alertness, school attendance and performance since we started the feeding programme 2 years ago have been dramatic! More than 20 children did exceptionally well in Grade 7 and Grade 9 exams, and one former student Mawini M is now studying vet science at Lusaka University.

Mrs. Sianga and her dedicated team have quoted ‘what a fantastic difference it has made!’ Not only do more children come to school regularly, but they are much more energetic and alert, generally healthier, and their improved school performance has seen exam results go through the roof!

Hands Around the World pays £500 per month to feed the children, that’s just over £1 per month each! With the school ever expanding there is a real need to secure further funding to support our current streams of funding for this project.

By providing not only education, but also food, uniforms and sensitive support, the project enables the children to attend school, and provides an opportunity for the children to break the cycle of poverty, for themselves and their families.

PIZZ child 2013 smaller

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