Henk and Corrie are a couple of Dutch people I met the other day, while staying at Msimbazi Hostel here in Dar. Henk worked in Tanzania for three years in the 1960s as a woodwork teacher, then returned home to teach in the Netherlands, but couldn’t get Africa out of his mind. So in his spare time he started making things from scrap / reclaimed wood – toys, picture frames, small things – and sold them, saving the money for projects.
The first donation went to pay for a fridge for keeping medicines in a dispensary. More requests followed – usually from projects identified by the missionaries he had met in Tz, and later from other countries as they moved on and word got around. His modus operandi is simple and practical. He sticks to tangible projects, asks for a simple costed list of materials for each phase of work – bags of cement, planks of wood, say to put in the foundations, then fronts the money for that phase. Once complete he receives photos of the completed work, and a list of materials for the next phase – say the walls, and on it goes. Forty years on, Henk and his wife have made and sold wooden goods worth 600,000 euros !!! and completed 50 projects in 10 countries, mostly in East Africa. Projects range from providing over 100 toolboxes for carpenters, to water tanks and school buildings. The day I met them, Henk and Corrie were guests of honour at the opening of their latest project – a 60 bed hospital!!!
What can you say?