About the Cumbria Rungwe Community Link

Who we are, what we do and why we do it.


Cllr David Southward MBE

Photo of our patron Cllr David Southward MBE

I suppose I first became aware of the Copeland-Rungwe Link – as it was then known – in the early 90s when the first of our children started at Wyndham School. My wife was born and brought up in Tanzania and so we were naturally intrigued to discover the link existed and keen to become involved. I remember with fondness the fund-raising events that helped build the team spirit among would be participants. The biennial visit from Rungwe was always memorable and I particularly recall the acclimatisation weekend at Bakerstead in Miterdale and the eve of departure ceilidh; led in those early days by the late John Reay, now ably succeeded by Mary Kipling as secretary. On several occasions we were privileged to host a visitor from Tanzania – usually planned and sometimes at the last minute when other hosting arrangements broke down.

In 1998 my wife and elder daughter took part in the visit to Rungwe and I know they each thoroughly enjoyed the trip and found the experience extremely rewarding. In recent years the link has evolved and matured and I know the efforts and investment provided for education and community projects in Rungwe have been immense. To my mind, just as important is the benefit to west Cumbrian young people involved in the link. The experience of witnessing life in sub-Saharan Africa for oneself is profound. At the very least a visit to Rungwe reinforces just how fortunate you are to live in the UK and provides an opportunity to experience a different life style less dominated by material possessions. For some the visit may even produce a Damascene moment and become a life changing experience.

As the Cumbria-Rungwe Link approaches its thirtieth birthday I wish the current leaders and members all good fortune and to anyone considering becoming involved I would simply say, “Join in; you’ll never regret it”.