Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 28, 1999
Local group aids Tanzanian school
Kolping Society seeks more hand tools for African self-help project
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Needy Tanzanian students will soon receive invaluable help from an Edmonton charitable group.
The Kolping Society, a Catholic charitable organization, is sending a donated cargo van full of wood-working tools, carpentry machines, bicycles and second-hand clothing to Tanzania at the beginning of July.
The carpentry hand tools will be given to graduating students from a technical school in Bukoba in northern Tanzania, an East African country.
The school, started by the Kolping Society three years ago, has about 45 students who spend three semesters learning carpentry skills.
Each graduating student will receive a set of hand tools so they can start their own business.
"Our aim is to enable students to work on their own (after they graduate)," said Konrad Tucker, national president of the Kolping Society of Canada.
"Our philosophy is to help one person so he can help others once he is established. All our help is geared towards self-help."
Students will pay a small rental fee for a complete set of tools once they start working. Within three years they will own the tools. The rental fee will be used to purchase new tool sets for the next group of graduates.
The van, a 1985 Ford Econoline, and the larger carpentry machines, two table saws and a shaper, will stay at the school.
The van will be shipped to Tanzania's capital Dar es Salaam and then driven 2,500 km to Bukoba.
The Kolping Society was founded in Germany about 150 years ago and has 500,000 members in 52 countries. There are 300 members in Canada, including 30 in Edmonton. The society has helped innumerable causes, including victims of hurricane Mitch in Nicaragua and refugees in Kosovo.
Tucker, a former wood-working instructor at NAIT, taught at the Bukoba technical school as a volunteer for three months in 1995. He then realized how poor Tanzanians are and how much help they need.
Workers make an average of 50 cents a day and can't afford the essentials. A regular stamp, for example, costs 50 cents.
Hand tools are "very expensive" and most students simply can't afford them, Tucker said.
So far the Kolping Society has collected about 500 chisels, 30 screwdrivers and a few hand-saws.
"We have enough for 30 students," Tucker said, adding the society is still looking for planes, hammers and other woodworking tools.
The Kolping Society is also looking for mechanical tools, sewing machines and used computers as the school is now expanding to offer automotive training, sewing and secretarial training.
Those interested in donating items for the school can drop them at St. Boniface Church, 9510-101 Ave., or contact Konrad Tucker at 469-5323 for pick up.