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
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
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,
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
(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.
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
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
Other rhinos, however, have not been so lucky, to Africa's
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
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
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
near Chipata, where a mixed Zambian-Philippino team of skilled medics
does wonderful work for the poor of eastern
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
Surgeon Dr Ang and his team at Mwami whilst right, darkest-blue
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.
His tour ended,
Beit Secretary Major-General Ramsay flew home to
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.
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
Left (below), the retiring Secretary, General Angus Ramsay (on the left,
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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