A COUPLE who wanted to escape the cold British winters have been dedicating their retirement to building community schools in Tanzania.
Despite only intending to carry out the one project in East Africa, Tony and Sue Pace, from Bugbrooke, have just returned from their fifth.
The pair carried out their first school refurbishment independently in 2007, after falling in love with the country on a volunteering trip the previous year.
They have since teamed up with the Bugbrooke East Africa Trust to carry out four subsequent projects and this year spent 10 weeks co-ordinating the refurbishment and construction of a secondary school and dispensary.
During their trip they also oversaw the refurbishment of a primary school on behalf of Bugbrooke Primary School, who raised funds for the project.
Their strong relationships with the local community over the last five years, led to requests for the couple to come back and help other schools in the area. Even Sue’s battle with and recovery from breast cancer only stopped the couple for one year.
Tony, a retired computer consultant, aged 68, said: “I can’t really say why we started doing it, except for it felt like a good thing to do. We really liked Tanzania, and what else are you going to do in winter? It’s such a miserable time. We wanted to do something useful in a warm county and we have the time to do it.
“When we first arrive for a project, we feel like we are going home but by the end of it we can’t leave quick enough.
“It’s a wonderful country but it is challenging and frustrating.Then the frustration wears off and we want to go again.
Every penny raised by the Trust through grants, friends and regular donors is spent directly on the building projects, with Tony and Sue’s paying for their own living and travel costs.
Local builders are employed to work, ensuring all the money is pumped back into the local economy.
Tony added: “All of the money is spent on the project, none is spent on overheads, and we write to every donor when we return explaining exactly how the money was used. I think people like that personal approach.”
The couple have already started to think about a possible sixth project.
Information about the Bugbrooke East Africa Trust can be found at www.bugbrookelink.co.uk