THE BEIT TRUST - 1906-2017

 
 

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Beit Assessment Tours

Every year, at least two visits to the mandated beneficial territories are undertaken by Beit Trustees and/or the Beit Secretary, as these are essential for quality-control of ongoing projects, assessment of new requirements, and analysis of long-term benevolent strategy. The Beit Representative in Harare organises and accompanies these intensive visits. Whilst fascinating, they are not Safaris. A Beit tour involves weeks of early starts, long hot days, and hundreds of miles on poor tracks, to very worthy small rural schools, clinics or missions, deep in the African bush.

Secretary Tour

In his last tour before retirement (see below), Beit Secretary Maj-General Angus Ramsay and Mrs Ramsay spent more than a month in southern Africa. They began in South Africa at the University of Stellenbosch and its medical outstation at Tygerberg Hospital, where they visited seven medical and one agricultural Beit postgraduate Scholars and several of the many deserving but financially constrained international students in receipt of small hardship bursaries from the Trust. Then they moved to the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur hospital, to meet a further six medical postgraduate scholars. In both cities, the majority of the Beit Scholarships are also generously supported by the universities, which allows for international scholarships to be offered more widely. Demand is strong, so competition and standards are high.

The images below show three Beit Scholars studying: diagnostic radiology at Stellenbosch; medical virology at UCT; and agricultural economics at Pretoria – all (as expected of Beit Scholars) at Distinction level.

                                                  

 

The Secretary and Mrs Ramsay then flew on to Port Elizabeth and drove to Grahamstown. There, in addition to the six Beit Scholars whose education is shared with Rhodes University, and a score of students aided with hardship bursaries, the Beit Trust helps to facilitate the celebrated PSAM governance training programme, open to selected parliamentarians, journalists and civil servants from the region. One recent attendee, a prominent ZANU PF politician from Harare, commented that all parliamentarians should attend the course.

A Zimbabwean legal bursary recipient at Rhodes University (left), and (right) the Wits’ Dean introduces General Ramsay to the Zeitgeist.

                 

On to the University of the Witwatersrand, to meet more Beit Scholars. Wits is not alone in trying, against steep political odds, to maintain both the educational process and high academic standards in the face of often violent minority protest.

They then flew to Harare to meet Beit Trust Representative Mr Johnson and his wife, and for the next 3 weeks all four undertook a tour which began in Zimbabwe. Below is a Beit Hall at St Werburgh’s Secondary School, and the huge Sakubva Township Beit Hall, under renovation, both near Mutare in Eastern Zimbabwe.

                  

As ever, rural missions and schools were enthusiastically visited. At Bonda Mission Hospital in the Eastern Highlands (below,left),  the nursing tutor hopes for a clearly-needed replacement for the old incinerator!

                    

Further west, the admirably meritocratic Kriste Mambo Carmelite Secondary School (below)     continues to justify its reputation as one of the best girls’ schools in the country.

                                                 

                         

The tourers concluded their Zimbabwe visit at Bubi Valley, where valiant efforts to save Zimbabwe’s black rhino from extinction have been met with only partial success. Ongoing demand from the Far East continues to drive the destruction of Africa’s charismatic megafauna. But dedicated and enlightened work also continues, to help preserve this irreplaceable legacy.

                                                                

In 2014 “Mbuya” (above) was almost entirely blinded, probably by a poacher’s shotgun, but rhinos compensate for poor eyesight with superb hearing and sense of smell, and she is once more able to fend for herself – and her expected calf – in the lowveld bush.

               

 

          Other rhinos, however, have not been so lucky, to Africa's increasing loss.

 

 

The tourers left Zimbabwe and drove for a day to Blantyre, in southern Malawi. First call was the Catholic University at Nguludu (below), where in 2006 the Trust helped extend and equip the spacious library. More recently the adjacent centre for the education of the disabled was given new accommodation for staff engaged in this vital and under-resourced work.

 

No visit to Blantyre would be complete without calling on one of the Beit flagship projects in Malawi, the Beit-CURE International Children’s Hospital. “Adults pay a fee so the children can walk free” is just what happily awaits one of the many young club-foot patients in its world-class care. The process can be quick and easy for infants, but long and uncomfortable if this fairly common problem is not treated as early as possible.

                                                                                  

Then onwards north, to investigate the truth or otherwise of the journalistic assault on the reputation of Development Aid from People to People (DAPP), a long-established Danish NGO engaged in teaching in Malawi and several poor countries elsewhere. Suffice to say that on a snap, unannounced visit to the Teacher Training College at Amalika (below), nothing but good work and sound teaching practice was evident, though journalists had recently been eager to interview dismissed staff.

                                                                         

Two home-made DAPP diagrams – local schools (left), and human internal organs (right).

 

Heading on to Lilongwe, the tourers stopped at Malamulo College of Medicine to meet Principal Dr Fison Kasenga (left, below) – and thence to Nkhoma Mission Hospital, where General Ramsay met Beit medical bursary recipients Doctors Hannah and Angus Ramsay (no relation, but in Malawi, the time-honoured, warm Scottish link is found everywhere.)

                       

                     

The tourers then drove a long way west to Lusaka and Kafue. Having entered Zambia, they called on the excellent Mwami Adventist Hospital near Chipata, where a mixed Zambian-Philippino team of skilled medics does wonderful work for the poor of eastern Zambia and western Malawi alike. Several hundred miles away, on the southern Zambian-Mozambique frontier, the Polish Sisters of the Little Servants of Mary Immaculate fulfil the same function at Katondwe Mission, beside the lower Luangwa River.

Left, white-coated Surgeon Dr Ang and his team at Mwami whilst  right, darkest-blue clad Surgeon Dr Gora at Katondwe – where the sisters pray for the arrival of a skilled anaesthetist, and almost as much, for a volunteer electrician.

                                                                          

At Mtendere Mission near Chirundu, a largely-Italian team of doctors and sisters runs one of the best mission hospitals in Zambia.  Unfortunately, very few Zambian nationals return to the bush after graduation as doctors, where it is highly- experienced Clinical Officers that remain the backbone of Zambia’s medical system.

Sister Erminia makes a point of teaching groups of city-bred Zambian medical students about maintaining life – and health - in the vast isolated hinterland of their country.


 

Their last call before ending the tour in Zimbabwe was to the King’s Mission School that now serves a very poor area of subsistence farmers, west of Lusaka. There they met the inspirational head-teacher, Pastor Sue Chapman, once from Essex, who was called by God to construct from nothing a school that now serves a very poor area of subsistence farmers. Her school presently teaches over 750 mixed pupils from Primary to Secondary, and she herself asks only that the Lord will give her a further 15 years to complete what she has set out to do.  As Zambia is her home, she never wants to retire from teaching, and all she asks is to able to do more to serve God and her community. The Beit servants feel diminished in the shadow of such unsung giants of faith, hope and charity; and we meet several of them on every tour.

                                        

 

New Secretary

His tour ended, Beit Secretary Major-General Ramsay flew home to the UK and imminent retirement, and to hand over the reins to his successor, Sir Andrew Pocock. Together they visited a number of universities both in the north of England and Scotland to meet the various post-graduate students from the beneficial countries, sponsored by the Trust.

The seven Beit Secretaries during the Trust’s first century were ex-military. The mould is now broken, as Sir Andrew had a distinguished diplomatic career that included three African posts as Head of Mission (Dar es Salaam, Harare and Abuja). He took up the quill as the eighth Secretary on 1st December 2016.

Left (below), the retiring Secretary, General Angus Ramsay (on the left, below), with Beit PhD Scholar Miss Dudzai Mureyi and new Secretary, Sir Andrew Pocock, in the College Hall of the University of Edinburgh, whilst (right), after 14 years, the final task of the old Secretary was the ceremonial handing over of the Beit House keys (watched over by the Trust founder Alfred Beit), before performing that military feat of quietly fading away.  

              

 

                                                             The work of the Beit Trust goes on.

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