News | 4 May 2022
For the past 19 years, Cardiff Metropolitan University’s African Partnership Initiative has been changing people’s lives for the better across a number of countries including Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Rwanda and Kenya. From providing pens and computers for school children to working to reduce levels of poverty related diseases such as malaria, many communities have benefitted from the generosity of academics, staff and students based thousands of miles away in South Wales.
Then, in March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, putting the Initiative on hold for the foreseeable future.
Now it’s back up and running again, much to the delight of over 300 pupils attending Nyamathumbi Primary School in the town of Thika, approximately 65 kilometres north-east of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.
Last month, several sacks of gifts and supplies containing pens, pencils and even t-shirts and bags left over from previous Freshers Weeks at Cardiff Met made it through to the school, delivered in person by Professor George Karani whose family also donated food.
Besides living in Cardiff for 27 years and lecturing at Cardiff Met, Professor Karani also happens to be an ex-pupil of Nyamathumbi Primary School. In other words he knows first hand how hard life can be for people living in communities such as Thika.
"In Thika, you’re talking about some children who often don’t eat before they go to school in the mornings," says Professor Karani. "They are lucky if they get to eat rice two or three times a year. Something as simple to us as a pen is, to them, a luxury. In fact it represents life to them, a rare commodity through which they can learn and communicate.
"That’s why the African Partnership Initiative is so important. It’s a perfect example of a university changing lives by reaching out into the community – except that community is located thousands of miles away. Cardiff Met, and the people who work there, has created an environment where this can happen. I am so proud to be a part of it, and I know I’m not alone."
The gifts and supplies that made it to Kenya were part of two separate consignments collected by Cardiff Met academics, staff and students prior to the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The second consignment, destined for Nigeria, made it through to its destination courtesy of a delegation from the country which happened to be visiting Cardiff Met late in 2019.
"For the past two years we’ve been unable to go anywhere or to do anything which, for a project like this, has been incredibly frustrating," adds Professor Karani.
"Now, hopefully, the worst of the pandemic is behind us and Cardiff Met’s work in Africa can resume properly.
"This is an ongoing project which, since it began in 2003 and with the help of research grants and local communities, has got stronger and stronger, affecting more and more people in a positive way. It’s something that communities in Africa benefit from on an unimaginable level, and it’s something that the people of Cardiff and indeed Wales should be immensely proud of."