An Absence of Strings
By Nick Pinfield, Secretary, KET

Mwanza, Lake Victoria
Fish market at Mwanza, Lake Victoria

I once visited a smart new hospital in Mwanza, Tanzania. The town of Mwanza is located on Lake Victoria, a place where magnificent fish eagles lord the skies. I admit that this visit was some decades ago – the mid 1970s in fact – but some things change little over the years.

I am not sure if the hospital still functions but it was originally built using aid funds provided by the German government. If a light bulb went, a new one could only be obtained from Germany as suitable light bulb replacements were unavailable locally. This situation struck me as ridiculous and unacceptable. It still does so today.

The Kohima Educational Trust (KET) provides funds for projects in Nagaland, North East India. All the Trust’s projects are identified by a group of distinguished local citizens of Nagaland – The Kohima Educational Society (KES) – who also supervise projects through to completion. The only criterion is that each and every project must contribute to the development of public education in Nagaland.

We, the Trust, attach no strings to our funding. We operate on a small scale relative to the much larger and better-known agencies, but we know what we are about. We have minimal administrative costs, we realise that by staying focused on our mission we can be highly effective. Well-targeted educational projects really do change lives.

For example we have funded a programme to provide every secondary school in Nagaland with a good English language learning dictionary*, printed in India and locally supplied.

And the hostel that we hope to build in the remote village of Pangsha near the Burmese border will be constructed by local labour using materials from the area or other parts of India. When completed it will enable students from outlying villages to stay near the school, making education possible for them.

If a light bulb fails in the Pangsha hostel, a replacement will be available locally.

Nick Pinfield, April 2009

*Read more about this project