What We Do
We offer young people the opportunity to broaden their experiences, and gain a love of travelling and an appreciation for human connection. We do this through fundraising, student sponsorship, and travel.
When we're at home and fundraising in Cumbria, we connect with our local community, individuals, and businesses. The Link is generously supported by the community, for which we are grateful. We raise funds for community and educational projects in Rungwe, through events like facepainting, bake sales, and sponsored swims.
During the inward and outward, we do as much as we can in the local area - schools, churches, and local businesses are always a top hit for us. If your organisation is interested in getting involved during our 2023 inward, please reach out to us using any of the details listed on our Contact Us page.
Who We Are
We are the Cumbria-Rungwe Community Link, a cultural exchange charity founded in 1987 seeking to provide education, opportunities and multicultural experiences to young people and the wider community of West Cumbria, and to relieve poverty through aid, development and education in the Rungwe district of Tanzania. We're your local international charity, and we want to share our love for our community exchange with as many people as possible.
What Makes Us Different
Unlike other, seemingly-similar organisations, we're a very different kind of charity - for one, we're a charity! Unlike World Challenge and others similar, our outward visit is self-funded, rather than a topic of fundraising. We do this because we want all the fundraising that we do to go towards as many community and educational projects as possible in Rungwe. Indeed, all of our building and construction work is carried out entirely by skilled local fundis (Swahili for 'builders'!), where others may rely on their volunteers (with no prior experience!) to complete the work. This allows us to deliver projects at a low cost, while still contributing to communities. After all, who would you trust to build your child's school?
We're led and fuelled by volunteers. As a non-profit, none of our trustees ever receive money for their time with the Link. That means that we're a part of the Link because we love it, and only because we love it.
The majority of Link funding comes from individual giving, so we volunteer in the local community year round to continue to make an impact in our communities. Much of our fundraising is done as a group with the local organisations we've built close bonds with over the years; facepainting at Muncaster Castle, cake sales at SASRA concerts and carol singing in Whitehaven town centre. We also encourage our students to organise and project their own fundraising events which have previously included gigs, beach cleans and sponsored challenges. Only 7% of adults (16+) regularly fundraiser for a charity, so join us at our next event to discover the benefits of volunteering, support our charity or just to boost your CV!
Learn New Skills
One of the core values of the CRCL is growth, and we try to exhibit this through a commitment to helping our group learn throughout the two year cycle and beyond. Fundraising with the Link will push some young people out of their comfort zone, requiring them to work as a team with meeting members of the public. Some of our monthly meetings will focus on teaching students basic Swahili, managing projects or preparing the lessons on a subject important to them that they will deliver to classes in Tanzania. Additionally, health and safety is a key consideration for those involved in our programme, particularly when travelling to Tanzania, so all of our outward group receive formal health and safety and food hygiene training.
Cultural capital comprises an individual’s social assets (education, intellect, style of speech, dress etc.) that "promote mobility within a stratified society", and its importance was officially recognised by OFSTED when they added it to their framework in 2019. The CRCL promotes international friendships through cultural exchange, and undoubtedly adds to an individual's cultural capital by giving them opportunities that may not be ordinarily available to them; meeting new people, understanding different cultures and potentially travelling to a different country. Our program gives individuals the confidence that they can thrive in a new environment, and highlights the importance of similarities rather than differences, two lifelong skills that will shape the person they become.
Alongside fundraising for Community Improvement Projects in Tanzania, the Inward and Outward groups are given an opportunity to work in groups to manage these projects. Our sister charity, RCCL, fields project proposals from the Rungwe Community, and once the CRCL committee selects which projects the charity is able to support, the responsibility for the successful delivery of these projects is handed to the students. Duties may include communicating with RCCL committee members for updates on projects, releasing funds for new project stages or redistributing funds when project phases over/under spend.
Unlike other charities, CRCL chooses to support the economy in Rungwe by paying skilled builders to deliver the projects. However, during our Outward visit the group may have the opportunity to visit the projects they have managed over the past two years.
Explore West Cumbria
The Inward Visit, the first summer of our two year cycle, typically involves showcasing the best of West Cumbria to our small group of visitors from Tanzania. Our group will help to plan the Inward program at our monthly meetings, which typically includes visits to schools, emergency services and local industries.
Young people involved in the Summer inward visit, and their families, will be given the opportunity to host one of our Tanzanian visitors for a week, and during this period strong friendships are formed between our Tanzumbrian family, with the parallel informal programme “organised” by the students proving just as important as the formal one.
BBQs, the Whitehaven Carnival and a farewell Arfo-Ceilidh all provide a fantastic opportunity to bring students, families and the public together with our Tanzanian visitors.
The 'Outward Visit' is the month-long self-funded trip to Tanzania that culminates our two year cycle. The group will fly to Dar es Salaam where they will spend a few days before a 24 hour train ride on the Tazara takes them to Mbeya in the South-West region of Tanzania. We'll then travel to our base in Rungwe, hostel accommodation at our partnered secondary school Lutengano. Here, the group will be able to reconnect with the Tanzanian students they hosted during the Inward visit, and our programme will include visits to secondary schools and local institutions, bartering in the Tukuyu market and exploring some of the natural attractions such as Kaparugwe Falls and the Ngozi Crater Lake.
Part way through our visit we'll take a break at the nearby Lake Mikumi on the Malawi border, and towards the end of our trip we typically safari at Mikumi National Park, before heading back to Dar es Salaam.