Hello everyone!  Time for another newsletter and what a story to tell this quarter!  We’ve really had an amazing time since our December missive both here in the UK and in South Africa and Tanzania!

Big Red Recruitment in front of banner

On the fundraising side, we were delighted with the turnout for our Tarantara Choir evening and overwhelmed by the generosity of the shoppers at Waitrose when we did our bag pack, assisted by the team from our fabulous sponsors BigRedRecruitment and our lovely regular volunteers!  These two events, packed into 20th December had all at GAGA UK reeling with adrenaline as we moved from bag pack to concert and finally put our feet up at midnight having cleared away the hall and washed the last glasses from the bar! 

 That euphoria continued when the buckets from Waitrose and the final receipts from the concert were added up, an amazing £1,500 boost to our funds!  Thank you to all the volunteers, supporters and communities of Stratford and the surrounding villages who contributed.

 All though December and into January it was a great pleasure to see the Yarnbombed trees on my many dog walks through Stratford and it was particularly good to talk to the many people who were taking photographs, admiring the trees and reading the dedication board. 

Holy Trinity early morning December 2019

I learned just how important this project has become to the people who regularly celebrate their loved ones at Christmas and to the community at large who welcome the colourful and cheerful, adorned trees as they brighten the dull winter days.  In fact, the Revd Patrick Taylor at Holy Trinity has asked us to keep their trees wrapped into February next year!

The return to GAGA HQ after Christmas saw us focussed on fashion and glamour!  We had two events scheduled for February in conjunction with Gemini Woman, an independent fashion retailer here in Stratford upon Avon. 

 The first was a “Fabulous Dress Event” where we engaged with the local high schools to promote sales of some stunning evening dresses suitable for Prom nights.  In addition to Gemini models, and one of our own volunteers, we had a number of Year 11 students from Stratford School modelling dresses on the evening before everyone had the chance to try on and buy a dream dress for just £50!

Models ready for the Fab Dress Event

Thanks to sponsorship by Anythingforhire and tables booked by local associated businesses GAGA UK benefitted from the full proceeds of the ticket sales and a contribution from Gemini of all the dresses sold from the event.  The following week we held a bumper stockroom sale at Gemini’s store room and our team of volunteers became personal shoppers for a couple of days as we worked on the shop floor and helped shoppers to find some amazing bargains!  We will run several of these “stockroom sales” throughout 2020, so if you are within a reasonable commute of Stratford upon Avon watch our website events page for notifications!

These two events gave another welcome boost to funds and just in time, as here in mid-March we are now in unchartered waters as the whole world wrangles with the impact and effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

As fundraising events are necessarily curtailed for GAGA UK we are especially grateful to the continued, loyal support of our regular donor base.  As you will all know, we try to make commitments to the projects we support in Tanzania and South Africa for sustained support across the year.  This allows them to plan, secure in the knowledge that funding will be available.  In light of the Coronavirus situation many of these projects will be even more in demand and required to do ever more with less.

 Here’s a quick update from some of our fabulous project partners:

 1000 Hills Community Helpers

Demand for help remains high at 1000 Hills Community Helpers with visits to individuals at home now accounting for 55% of all clinic activity.  This demonstrates the high need for outreach services, many of these individuals would have no healthcare or support beyond immediate family or the kindness of neighbours if the 1000 Hills Community Outreach team were not in place. 

GAGA Volunteer & 1000HCH worker in Valley

 Here at GAGA we understand how challenging it is to provide healthcare in the remote dwellings deep in the Valley of 1000 Hills. Where the tarmac road stops, dirt tracks take over, where the dirt tracks stop there is no alternative but to don a backpack filled with healthcare supplies and walk through the valley following meandering paths between homes.  The team are diligent at finding homes where a person has been reported as being unwell, recently they told us of a nine-year-old boy who made his way to the clinic to get help for his father who had fallen ill and was unable to get out of bed.  When the team arrived, they found him unresponsive and immediately transferred him to the back of the 4x4 and transported him to the clinic for intravenous therapy and nursing care.  Thanks to the efforts of the clinic team and follow up care from the outreach team, that gentleman recovered from his dangerous lapse, is now on regular medication for TB and is now, finally well enough to resume a job part-time and care for his son.  He told the team “without you, my son would be an orphan now”

Coronavirus will provide yet another challenge on top of an already extremely difficult way of life for many in this community.

 Svunokuhle (formally First Step Right)

 The December school holidays provided the opportunity for the school building on Cato Ridge to be completely refurbished.  Works over ran a little and the anticipated opening day in January was further delayed when, just as the final touches were being completed thieves broke in and stole the new windows and doors!  Undeterred the building’s owners quickly made good the losses and later in January the new creche and pre-school opened its doors to the first cohort of 43 early learners!  The new name is Svunokuhle, which translates as “from the little seeds grow mighty trees”.

Kitchen with staff at Svunokuhle

The team are following the early childhood development curriculum developed by the nearby iThemba project and have implemented a nutrition scheme providing breakfast and lunch from the newly equipped kitchen.  Staff are receiving mentoring and training from the iThemba project team as well as First Aid and administration training at the adjacent Frey’s Food Brands business.

Welcome board and desk

 An open day was held on the 29th February to offer local parents the opportunity to see the new school facilities and encourage more enrolments for the creche and pre-school classes as well as for the after-school care provision. The recent announcement of the enforced closure of schools from 18th March until after the Easter weekend, in response to the Coronavirus will present additional challenges to this fledgling project.  In common with enterprises across the world the team are doing all they can to comply with guidance and regulation and be ready to offer their service once this period has passed.

 Kilimanjaro Young Girls in Need

We were delighted to receive the results of the Primary 7 class who took the secondary school entrance examinations in the Autumn of 2019.  Of the 29 eligible students, 27 achieved a Grade B and the other 2 achieved a Grade C, meaning they all succeeded and that this school ranked 9th of all the schools in the Moshi region.

KYGN P7 pupils

One of our trustees, Mandy was at the school on the day the results were announced and the joy of the staff and pupils spoke volumes for the dedication and strength of belonging that the school engenders. Given the success of the school and the strength of its reputation it will come as no surprise that demand for places continues to rise.  In addition to being a Gold Sponsor for KYGN in 2020, the Board of GAGA were also delighted to agree to a further £1,500 funding to support the completion of three new classrooms, providing windows, plastering and decoration.  This funding can be supported thanks to you; all of our supporters who send us regular donations to our general fund, all of you who attend our events or support our Remembering Tree project and our generous business sponsors.  Thank you!


Our new website is a revelation!  Making updates is easier, we can ticket events through it and set up appeals and fundraising pages.  We’re focusing on our communications across the website and social media as well as through the quarterly newsletter on email or in the post.  Please don’t forget you can change your communication preferences at any time, either by emailing us on [email protected], going on to the website or clicking the link at the foot of any email you receive from us.

To add to our presence on FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter we recently opened a GAGA LinkedIn page!  If you don’t already, please follow us on one or all of your preferred social media platforms. 

 Fancy getting involved?

There are lots of ways you can support the work of GAGA UK. 

Sign up to a charity linked online shopping portal, we are registered with Give as You Live, Easyfundraising and Amazon Smile – just search for “Goodwill and Growth for Africa” or pop onto our website page where you’ll find links to all of the online shopping portals.

Regular donations are very important to us, as it means we can plan ahead, so if you could consider a regular donation, please donate here

£5 a month can provide testing kits for the clinic at 1000 Hills Community Helpers to diagnose TB and HIV without the need for an additional hospital visit

 Support like this will become even more important as the whole world deals with the lasting impacts of the Coronavirus Pandemic.  As I write we do not know how this will impact the UK economy or the health of the nation and we are yet to see the full impact across the world.  We hope you and your loved ones are well and being looked after whatever their particular circumstances.  I hope that by the time I come to write the next newsletter we have the worst of this situation behind us.

If you have any questions about the projects we support or anything GAGA related then please email [email protected]

Thank you for reading!