Dianne Kidd's Bio
I was introduced to the Third World back in the 80s by my then Parish Priest. I was naive to think that the resolve was easy – just raise a load of money and send it to the needy. It was only from joining a Third World Group that I began to understand the complexities of the world’s economics – all be it at a very basic level of understanding. It was from then on that I have supported initiatives that enable self-help. The first in Zambia – providing much needed medical supplies to a Hospital in Monze, run by the Sisters of the Holy Rosery. I was privileged to visit for 6 weeks and saw first-hand the wonderful work that was being done by the exceptionally talented surgeon sisters. Also, the outreach programmes to help to eradicate Measles and the support provided to the disabled. Disability was in those days difficult to comprehend and many were outcast. A successful programme had resulted on a village being totally independent and flourishing with 100% of villages being disabled in some way, many blind as a result of untreated Measles. A highlight of my visit was to witness Primary Healthcare in action. A young child was lying in the shade, lifeless. Sister Rita, who I was accompanying and also leading on the Measles vaccination programme, suggested that the child was suffering from de-hydration due to diarrhoea. Rita immediately spoke to the Chief and summoned all the village to the central open area. Most were being supported by others and many arrived on all fours. She improvised with a empty can of beans and a teaspoon to demonstrate the powerful mixture of water, sugar and salt to create a re-hydration solution. Within 20 minutes the child was back with us smiling. A life lesson for me which in fact I have used for my own son when he was very young. I lost my heart to Africa!
Several years later, one Sunday afternoon with a friend from Ecuador, the conversation led to her homeland and how she tries to support them. Speaking with her lit a fire in my belly and before I knew where I was I had agreed to help. To be honest, even speaking confidently I didn’t really know where Ecuador was let alone anything about it. After even a little research I was fascinated with the country and again with its complicated economics. South America also intrigued me. I decided there and then to start up my own charity. I convinced a friend of mine to provide me with some start-up funds (£1000) and a close friend and colleague and his wife to help, I definitely needed a “detail” person and Douglas was unquestionably my “foil”. The both of us set off to Ecuador – I insist on seeing the country’s infrastructure, experiencing the culture and making safe contacts to work with us. Surfing the net, we connected with 3 possible contacts. We visited all 3. The experience is another story but suffice to say arriving for number 1 in Guayaquil and seeing a Celtic Shirt was a real comfort , only to be short lived as it is difficult to prepare for the traffic and living in a police-less Shanty town with over 70,000 people. But it is in that Shanty town I experienced life! Hanging together were the bamboo homes and school that clung to a mountain side when most years the school was simply washed away. Imagine – hot bamboo classrooms with no windows, just holes to let a little light in. It was a no-brainer to raise funds to build an 8-classroom brick block with toilets and a shower facility.
I am a firm believer that benefit should also be felt by the contributor. So with this in mind I worked with a local UK school who had agreed to adopt a programme in the same Shanty town. Having corporate knowledge and skills myself, I worked with the school’s council to help them develop 3 potential initiatives. This required them to interview me, gather material from me, develop a presentation package and deliver the descriptions of the initiatives to the whole school who would vote on their preferred option. They chose to build a Medical Centre. They fundraised £15,000 by various little projects. I don’t think I was too popular with the Teachers when the Head decided to have an Ecuador 3 weeks when all subjects needed to have an Ecuadorian connection. Innovation won out though as it was incredible what the teachers did, for example in Maths they analysed the Ecuadorian climate data and were able to see the climate change…. So, with the help of a local school we built a lovely medical centre. I should also say that a significant contribution came from my local church congregations, and friends and of course that valuable regular income from Standing Orders. My contact in Guayaquil returned home to Scotland to take up a new Parish so following our two significant projects it was time to move on.
When I was in Zambia, all those years ago, I visited Victoria Falls and crossed over the bridge to Zimbabwe. It wasn’t too many years after Northern and Southern Rhodesia had become independent and it was obvious that Southern Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe had done better than Northern – Zambia. I was delighted to visit the Victoria Falls Hotel on top of the mountain and see wealth. In the shops the shelves were full of food and the economy seemed vibrant – a contrast to Zambia. It was this differential that caught my attention. I couldn’t help concluding that it must be harder to have something and loose it than not have it at all. The economy had crashed overnight, and a teacher’s salary was not enough to buy a loaf of bread. The currency became worthless and the US$ was introduced. I had a dear friend in Zimbabwe so naturally our focus turned to Zimbabwe.
During a turning point in Bill’s career he, on behalf of 2Hands lived with my friend. He spent two lots of 3 months renovating a school and establishing new projects for us to support. Out of the blue I received an email from a couple in Dorset who wanted to help a Zimbabwean community a a legacy for their late son. They wanted to support the sinking of two bore wells, fondly known as “Dominic’s Gift”. Susan and John have since joined the Board of Trustees and now play an active part in the charity.Whilst working in Zimbabwe and in addition to the work that Bill did on behalf of “2Hands” and the bore wells, we are supporting a school in the Burma Valley and an Orphanage in Rusape. The school has received all new classroom furniture, hand made by Zimbabwean tradesman and we continue to provide stationery. In January 2018 all the trustees visited the school and the orphanage, we agreed to provide materials for the building of a new block for the school and with the parents and community labour work is underway. The Orphanage continues to see difficult times so we continue to provide life provisions for the children.
We are a small charity and rely on help from those who know us. But a little goes a long way, so we continue to support the poor to grow out of poverty where we can.
Dianne Kidd's Blog
In December 2011 Dianne travelled to Zimbabwe as part of our school project there. You can read more about the project itself here, but for now here are Dianne's Blogs from the trip ...
Starting out ...
My plan was to leave Telford on the 11.10 coach which was scheduled to arrive in Heathrow at 16:10 - plenty of time for my 19:00 flight. Sitting in the Telford bus station still waiting for my coach at 11:30 I began to get concerned knowing that I needed to get to Birmingham ZP1for my connection to Heathrow. However, my panic was shorted lived as the coach eventually arrived only 35 minutes late. The traffic was kind and time was made up so I was able to get my connection and all was fine until we got onto the plane, ready to go, when we were told that there was a technical problem and the engineers were “checking it”. The plan was to shut down everything and then re-boot - reminded me of work! 2 hours later we were asked to leave the aircraft and instructions would be given in the terminal. Suffice to say none were available – 180 people were trying to find out where to go and what was happening – consequently there were about 20 different versions of the truth – confusion reigned!! Eventually we were put into a hotel – which was not prepared for this number of people arriving at their reception point where two members of staff were operating! – and this is England!! I Got to bed about 2am and was back on my way back to Heathrow at 6am.
The question now was what would happen in Nairobi (this is where I was due to change planes for Harare)? I missed the final plane out and therefore was stuck until the following morning – the next flight being 8:50am. I have to say that without any fuss I was taken to a grand hotel in Nairobi – the journey there was a bit of experience however once again finally I was able to shut my eyes at about 3am and was woken again at 5:30am. Arrived in Harare – now 24hours later than originally planned and was ready to face Zimbabwean immigration – or was I? I had no confidence that my bags had arrived – bearing in mind my confused journey, I joined a queue and had to suffer a 3 hour wait to pay for my visa then re-queue to have my passport stamped – another 45 minutes. Eventually I went looking for my luggage – too many bags for the belt, so they were just thrown all over the place. To my absolute surprise I found them. Now my final challenge was to get through customs. Thankfully I met a chap – Keith who helped me to gather my scattered luggage and who was travelling very light so we became husband and wife very quickly! We were waved through and he met his real wife and to my relief both Izy and Bill were patiently waiting for me!!! A 4 hour car journey took us to the Mission – the last 10 miles is a dirt track full of pot holes, maximum speed on a good patch is about 10mph.It had taken me 60 hours to reach my destination!!! Had a whisky – large one and went to bed. No electricity and no water. The bright morning soon came. Then it was a quick look around and then on to work. It is the summer school break therefore the school is empty and an ideal time to make some much needed improvements. It always amazes me how children in the developing world are so keen to go to school and how proud they are of it. It’s clear to see that this school was once a well maintained building but has been sadly neglected over the years due to no funding and violent storms. The plan is over the next 3 - 4 weeks to repair and repaint the classrooms ready for the children’s return - all 560 of them! – we will do our best – so Christmas Day will be our only day of rest!
I haven’t told you about my accommodation yet! The fact that we have no electricity or running water is a real challenge. It is pitch black at night and is quite scary – but the scariest thing of all for me is that the house has rats!! So big they are referred to as Elephants! Additionally without electricity – apart from not being able to see the rats it means that we cannot keep food fresh as it is so hot. Although the rats maybe happy I am not! So, two days in and I am texting Billy Fitz (my Parish Priest) begging for some funding for a generator. He was quick to agree and start some fundraising. On my final day at work I received an email informing me that I had won the lottery – a sum of £200, a windfall, so that has been spent on a new fridge!! The one it has replaced was probably about 40 years old and as the electricity is off more than it is on the cockroaches have moved in! – so it had to go! So today (Tuesday 20th) is spent setting up the generator – good job too because as I speak the power has once again gone off – not expecting to return now for days! Yesterday was interesting as we had to go to Mutare – about the same distance as London is to Telford to make our purchases – fridge, generator and other provisions - it’s all very hard work.
There is much need here just to provide the poor with basic necessities of life and I have been so impressed with just how much Bill has already achieved since arriving on the 22nd October. Even I didn’t realise just how much of a challenge it has been for him, but he is healthy and continues to work hard. His improvisation skills have proved most valuable here and it is clear from the local folk and of course Fr Izy that his efforts are immensely appreciated.
We will be visiting the orphanage in the next day or two to take some Christmas Gifts. Also to get to know the children as I am hoping to provide sponsorship for their education from back home – please God! Then it will be back to painting, then we will be moving into the Christmas period – Christmas dinner will be interesting!
Well that is me so far...
... I am sure as the days unfold many more experiences and challenges will be faced, but there is one great comfort and that is that we are making a difference and the joy of the folk here make it all worthwhile!
Bye for now
Dianne in Zimbabwe Blog 2 – 29th December 2011
Where do I begin! Well I suppose the best place is to let you know that I am writing this while a violent electric storm is overhead with rain like you have to see to believe! Once again we have no electricity but hey ho we now have a generator! So it could be worse.
I explained in my last blog that it was the intention to make some much needed improvements to the Primary School – in particular one of the blocks that has been sadly neglected over the years. I also mentioned that the Primary School accommodated over 500 children, also on the mission is a Secondary School – also in need of work – but that will have to wait for another day! Together these schools accommodate well over a 1000 children – oh yes also there is a nursery so all together the mission serves a lot of children for all their academic years.
On my second day here we started on the 4 classrooms. It was estimated that to repaint would take about 5 days – wrong!! The preparation took 5 days as a significant amount of the wall space had been destroyed by termites, therefore we needed to remove damaged walls and re-render. No non-drip stuff here that you can get away with painting one coat – no a minimum of two coats. Today we have FINISHED! – just clearing up to do.
I have to say that if it wasn’t for 2 lads from the Secondary School and another young lad we would have struggled to complete the task. However thanks to Amos, Ashley and Gilbert we did it! Very interesting lads whose work ethic is unbelievable – we started each day at 8am and finished about 6pm with a short break for 11s and lunch. No moans – or getting bored, etc. They just worked hard! Amos and Ashley are just 16 years old, Amos is a few years behind at school as he is an orphan and was kept away from school by his grandmother – I think he was also homeless for part of the time. But he loves his school and is trying to catch-up. He dreams of being a Doctor. Presently he has sponsorship for his school fees from the UK (connected to “2Hands” ) and we will do what we can to help him realise his dream. He was awarded a prize recently from the school for being the top student. I have every confidence that with help he will achieve his dream. Apart from sorting out the classrooms “2Hands” has funded a truck for the school, there is such a need as the mission is situated in the mountains – geographically incredibly beautiful, but with the rains transportation becomes impossible – a reliable multi function truck will be so useful. We will be purchasing that from South Africa as soon as the funding is cleared this end – should be very soon!
The Orphanage! – Rusape. I was very pleased to be able to give a donation to the Orphanage of $1000usd to pay off a water debt and also to purchase seed. I had the pleasure of meeting Philip, the sisters who are caring for the 9 children and of course the children themselves.
It was almost Christmas and I had taken with me from the UK a Father Christmas outfit. I had also wrapped up some small presents (3 came from colleagues) for the children and the plan was that Fr Bill would be Father Christmas and would replicate a typical visit to Santa.
However I had to firstly explain who Santa was! I think that in all the video films I have ever taken in my life this was the most overwhelming for me. It has been a long time since I have seen such appreciation and excitement from such small gifts – they were the only gifts they were going to receive!
Below is a speech that one of the 10 year olds gave:
“On behalf of all the kids I would like to express our gratitude. In us you have brought hope. We the children of Queen of Hope Orphanage now we are proudly confident that we are loved, remembered and cared for. Thank you so much, may God bless you more than ever. Thank you”.
The Orphanage is run by Philip who is doing what he can to raise money to keep it going, for example, he is rearing 300 chickens and with part of our donation he will be purchasing seeds. The accommodation – relatively speaking is not too bad, in fact has room to take in more orphans but presently cannot afford to. I have asked Philip to provide costs to a) pay for a child’s education per year and b) how much it costs per child per year to house. I would suspect that the combined figures will be less than what an average child in the UK had spent on them this Christmas.
Philip told me that the donation has saved the Orphanage as they were about to be evicted, it was with great emotion that he thanked those in the UK who have contributed. I would love to be able to take-on this Orphanage as an on-going project to see it develop to its capacity and I pray with the generosity from the UK we can.
Well the rats are still causing me grief! But the good news is that we now have a cat – so I hope things will get a bit better. I am a bit concerned however as the cat is still a kitten and the rats are called “elephants” for a reason – so I hope she can survive! The generator means that we can keep food fresh and can see at night time – thanks Billy!
There is still much to do – but at least the pressure is off as the main project has been completed – yippee!!
I hope you all have had a great Christmas and that you will have a good New Year – keep us in your prayers.
Dianne’s final log January 2012 ...
The final lap has already begun; it is really incredible how time has flown. But I suppose that is because we have been trying to get as much as possible completed in a limited time. However, it is now time to relax a bit and start the difficult goodbyes.
More work has been completed on the school plus the electrics have been stabilised – thanks to Fr Bill’s electrical skills. Since Christmas we have had mains electricity for only about one day so the generator is already in full use. There was one time when we had no electricity and weren’t able to get any petrol for the generator for two days so it was back to candle and lantern light. The cat we called Smirnoff is still alive but only just getting the sense of the rats!
I mentioned in my last blog Amos and Ashly. Both have remained a great help turning up every morning (Amos walking nearly an hour) to be extra pairs of hands – more importantly they are learning all sorts of things and have already agreed to help Peter the deputy head with the next painting project in the school – classrooms 13 and 14. We were originally going to do those too but from speaking with Peter we thought that if “2Hands” bought the paint and brushes it would be a good project for the teachers and some students to do themselves. Peter hopes that by seeing what we have achieved others will be inspired. This of course is the ethos of “2Hands” – we are all about helping others to help themselves.
Amos invited us to his home – which was a great experience. He lives about an hour’s walk from the mission and also his school. As I have already mentioned in a previous blog he was orphaned from a very early age; his father died of Malaria and mother TB. Amos currently lives with his mother’s mother and family. We were able to drive up until the last 10 mins walk – a narrow path leading up the mountain - apparently home to a good number of snakes and baboons!! The homestead consisted of four main buildings, one thatched roundel building and three very small square rooms about 8’ x 8’. We were invited into the roundel first. This is where the cooking is done and the family eat – it just consists of a fire in the centre and seating all around. Very dark even in the bright sunshine! One of the small square buildings was for all their food and general storage. The grandparents sleep in another room and all the children including Amos sleep in the remaining room. 4 Children in all. Inside was a single bed but no mattress and mats on the floor. The eldest – Norris aged 18 has the bed the others the floor - just a mat - no covers. All clothing for all the family is kept in the grandparent’s room. You had to be there to believe just how little space and privacy is available. Even though they had no food to offer us (for which I was relieved) we were made very welcome and they thanked us for the kindness we had shown Amos. Although Amos’s status and position in the family is not typical, the family is – hard working and extremely poor and live in conditions that I would last in no longer than a week!
The next couple of days are going to be really hard for me as I have met so many really fantastic people and it is going to be hard to say goodbye. Although there have been many challenges I have had a wonderful experience – one that fills me with enthusiasm to keep working hard to make a difference to those people’s lives who need our help. One thing I would say about Zimbabwe is that it has had some really bad and false press. Before I came out several people asked if I was scared to be coming out to such a dangerous country. As far as African countries go nothing can be further from that fear; I have felt safe, not harassed and the Shona people themselves represent peace. So I will not hesitate to return. But my return to England is next on my agenda – I am expecting to be back in Telford Friday 13th Jan at about 7.30pm. I only hope my return journey is better than my outward!! – See you soon.