Sunday, July 21

Project Africa – The Next Chapter

This summer’s expedition to Malawi represents the fourth instalment of Berkshire Scouts’ inspiring Project Africa initiative. Since 2011, Explorer-aged Scouts have embarked on three separate trips to Africa, four years apart, as part of the overarching mission to enable young people to support other young people.

Project Africa was born out of a county-wide review across Berkshire, looking at international community opportunities. There had been plenty of international adventure up to that point with camps in Europe – and beyond – as well as adventurous activities like mountaineering and on-water experiences – but nothing that focused on the community aspect.  

A county workshop brought together adult volunteers and young people to explore various opportunities, and there was a widespread consensus that doing something meaningful in Africa would be appealing. One of the goals of Project Africa is to include young people from all Scout sections, not just those older Explorers going on the trip.

The Project Africa Challenge Badge, which has been completed by over 3,000 young people since its inception, engages Scouts in understanding the lives of their peers in a different culture. Since September 2023, this has become a staged badge, which helped to maintain the engagement as those young people develop through their Scouting journey.

The first trip to Africa in 2011, to Uganda, supported the Bukeka Children’s Centre (Mityana), and the Kavule School for the Deaf (Mbale). This project was carried out in partnership with Building Brighter Futures. Work across the two projects included building a large new classroom block, initially used for a chicken project, a kitchen, staff washroom, classroom refurbishment, and a water harvesting scheme.

In 2015, Scouts worked at the Butagaya and Iwololo rural primary schools in the Jinja area of Uganda. This work was carried out in partnership with Soft Power Education. Work across the two projects included building a three-classroom block, teacher houses, and refurbishment of existing classrooms.

Four years later, in 2019, Berkshire Scouts worked at three rural primary schools (Buwala, Bituli and Bubugo) in partnership the Soft Power Education. Work across these three projects included building teacher houses and refurbishment of classrooms. The Scouts also completed refurbishment work at the Jinja District Scout Training Centre in Buwenda.

The next chapter sees our Explorers travel to Malawi in partnership with local charity ‘Joshua in Malawi’, to support their work in the Blantyre area. ‘Joshua’ have 17 feeding stations in the area as well as supporting other community projects in local villages.

Many community facilities were destroyed or badly damaged in the recent Cyclone Freddy and Berkshire Scouts will help to rebuild.

Just under 100 Berkshire Scouts and adult leaders will be travelling to Malawi in the summer to work alongside local builders in creating a new community care centre; refurbishing an existing centre in a nearby village; and improving latrines at both sites. The centres will be used by ‘Joshua’ for feeding stations, pre-schools, and general community use.