Chris Martin is a true philanthropist. A cycling instructor from Bingley, some ten years ago he went out to Tanzania to do cycle training with youngsters. He stayed some time, enrolling his son at a village school.
He was shocked by the grinding poverty he saw but full of admiration for the resilience of the people. When he returned to the UK he sent out ‘a few hundred bikes’. In 2022 he contacted the charity Tools With A Mission [TWAM] and became a volunteer. On 30 January he addressed the Club via zoom, with an interesting request for help, to which I refer later.
On the website https://www.twam.uk/ Tools With A Mission describes itself as follows:-
We are a Christian charity that collects unwanted usable tools, refurbishes them, sorts them into trade tool kits and sends them to the developing world for livelihood creation.
We send around 16 containers filled with a total of around 225 tonnes of tools every year. These tools range from sewing machines and knitting machines to carpentry tools and mechanics tools.
We are dedicated to providing livelihood-creating tools to skills centres in Africa. These tools give the recipients the means to generate their own income, create their own businesses, and build a mindset of independence, not reliance. The impact goes much further than this, however. Our work supports African livelihoods, UK communities, and the fight against climate change.
At our club meeting via zoom on 30 January, Chris Armstrong took us through some case histories illustrating TWAM’s work. They have a considerable reach, sending tools to South Africa, Kenya, Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
Chris told us of a women’s group set up in Nakakabula village in Uganda to learn tailoring. They applied to TWAM for sewing machines. Within months of tools arriving, the women had set up a tailoring business with a market stall in a nearby town, selling school uniforms, and other clothes. They earned enough money to send their children to school.
TWAM are helping 400 similar groups.
Chris told us of their operation in the UK. The charity is well funded but needs a constant supply of materials. Tools of all types and sizes are collected from around the country by a team of 250 volunteers, and delivered to a large workshop in Rugby where they are refurbished and sorted into different trade kits such as electricians, joiners, and car mechanics. IT equipment is also welcomed.
Last year they were able to recycle 250 tons of tools, sending them out to Africa packed in 18 shipping containers. They plan to increase that considerably in the next year.
Tools that are beyond use are sold as scrap and the proceeds used to help with transport costs.
Chris volunteered his services as a collector. In his work as a cycling instructor he has a large van, and uses this to collect tools locally and then deliver them to the refurbishment centre in Rugby. He does this entirely at his own expense. The tools come from many sources: house clearance, donations from retired tradesmen, schools. He says that people have often had useful tools lying unused in their garages for years. Nothing is too small, although large items such as lathes have to fit in his van.
Chris asked us if we could look out for unused tools and he would come over from Bingley and collect them within a week or two. We now find ourselves with space in our garage, and would be happy to be Chris’s collection point, if Rotarians can have a rummage round and see if they have tools to donate.
Get in touch with Roundhay Rotary Club:
0113 266 6203