Positive about women in Swaziland

Lord McConnell

I am in Swaziland this week to support and assess a new development project called Tools for Life. All the hard work has been done by Wales-based charity Positive Women, and the McConnell International Foundation has supported the pilot underway this month. I will try to Blog here on what I see, and on life in this part of the world.

In May 2012, I took part in a campaign called Live Below the Line for a second time. My main objective was to raise awareness about the international scandal that is extreme poverty. Twelve years into the 21st Century, over 1 billion people still lived on less than £1 a day – with no decent access to health services, education or – in many cases – basic safety from violence, rape or fear. Our campaign highlighted this and demanded more urgent action to deal with it.

The Global Poverty Project led the Live Below the line Campaign and they keep the issue of global action on extreme poverty on the agenda and deserve support. However, unlike in 2011, I decided to raise money for a specific project rather than the campaign. I wanted to try something different and test a practical idea that might change lives for desperately poor people, but also change lives here in the UK too.

So, Tools for Life was born. The money I raised by living on £1 a day for 5 days was allocated to a pilot project to test if there was merit in linking young people with limited opportunities here in the UK with those wanting a chance to learn skills and earn money in sub-Saharan Africa.

This month a group of young women from the UK, who are all in the later stages of training to become carpenters, are in Swaziland to spend some weeks working with Swazi women affected by HIV/Aids who reject dependency and want to learn skills that will help them earn a living making benches, tables, fences and of course coffins.

I am a Patron of Positive Women, the wonderful Welsh/Swazi partnership charity behind this pilot. Supported by the McConnell International Foundation, they have identified the UK women, the Swazi partners and made all the arrangements.  We believe that this model can make a difference: that it can change lives in the UK by widening horizons, developing skills and building confidence; and transform lives in Swaziland and elsewhere by challenging orthodoxies and training people to be self-reliant and successful.

Many people have helped make this happen: all who gave me donations to Live Below the Line in 2012; those who have advised Positive Women; and those who have donated tools or helped with flights. All of you have given this ‘thing’ a chance. All over the world there is an understandable focus on formal education – early years, schools and exams, universities. But there is also a real need to inspire hope and opportunity for those who choose a different path.

This month Positive Women and McConnell International Foundation are starting something that we believe can go a long way. More soon.

5 comments for “Positive about women in Swaziland

  1. Bumble Bee
    20/08/2013 at 8:38 am

    Welsh to Swazi/UK to South Africa?

    Is this some kind of big bluff?

    Women carpenters from Wales,not from England mind, and apparently from a patronising ScotsMAN???

    How condescending can we get?

    Change Africa? Deluded!!!

  2. MilesJSD
    22/08/2013 at 7:52 am

    Please don’t take my word “you” too personally;
    it is aimed at the upwards towering False Values Pyramid, the Cause of both Abject-Poverty and Daredevil-Delusionary Wealth Accumulation
    including the UN UNDP Aggregate-HDI.

    It is grievous that your “Tools For Life” were and still are being designed by the worldwide masters of Western-Economical Tools-For-Destruction, Extinction, and Over-Killing.
    Those “Tools for Life” so masterfully prepared are doomed to become “Tools For Death”,
    tools for Extincting EarthLife and further destroying Non-Renewables.

    thereby insidiously extincting our Human Race.

    We (You) need to be making ourselves Sustainworthy:

    because being handed-out, drawing even ‘demanding’, more than one human living from the Common Purse and Common Environment, is only exponentially deluding (y)ourselves that you/we are each more than one human being;

    whilst billions of equal-human-beings,
    for instance the Swazis and Swazi-Womenfolk,
    are being kept not just below “the poverty line” but at levels far below that of half-of-one-human-being.

    (and therein even we ‘lowest’-income 1st-World pensioners and ‘welfarites’ in general)
    neither have nor can even briefly demonstrate the Basic Lifesupportive Essential, of
    “Self and Mutual Lifeplace Healthy-Habits- Building Enablement”.
    Once again you have us at the bottom of a Slippery Slope

    where even after our ‘leaders’ have cried
    “Crisis Point ! Call out the Emergency and Crisis-Management Teams, Scrutinise the Experts”
    there remains no hope for a truly longest-term Human Race.

  3. Bumble Bee
    22/08/2013 at 8:11 am


    I guess the Lord McConnell would not exactly get along well with the Rotarians, certainly not the ones I know, who do good work in Africa, alone, without publicity of any sort, and using their own funds, saved from their own earnings during their working lives. Even that patronising contributes, grain by grain, to a neo-imperialism in a class of its own.

    Leave Africa to itself! Motes and beams!

    The heavenly vitues are Faith, Hope and Charity, and of these Charity is the finest.
    What we mean by ‘charity’ is another matter all together.

    • maude elwes
      22/08/2013 at 10:34 am

      I like Bumble Bee. He comes across as his own man with thoughts not ruled by propaganda spreaders and the politically correct contingent that is so relentlessly and offensively pandered to.

      • MilesJSD
        22/08/2013 at 3:50 pm

        “thoughts not ruled by propaganda-spreaders and the politically correct contingent” ?

        yet believing and worldviewlike-holding that “the Rotarians… do good work in Africa alone and without publicity of any sort, using
        ‘their own funds saved from their own earnings during their working lives’ ”

        clearly those Rotarians were netting hugely more than one-human-living each throughout their ‘working lives’;
        and that multiple-human-livings accrual has been on the backs of the real earners, namely those Rotarians’ lower-pay-graders and ‘inferiors’.
        Beware the many ins-and-outs of Conflation
        especially of the Deliberate, the ‘Handed-Down’ and the ‘Not My Remit’ sort.

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