A NEW twinning link between St John’s Church in Clifton and villagers in Rwamkoma in Tanzania has been cemented - with the gift of a goat.
The unusual present was given to the Rev Dr Stephen Spencer, vicar at St Martin’s Church in Brighouse and St John’s, on a recent visit he made to the Mara diocese to set up the new link and visit development projects supported by Brighouse schools.
He accompanied the Bishop of Wakefield, the Right Rev Stephen Platten, who dedicated a new church building in Rwamkoma village to St John in honour of the connection with Clifton.
“I was able to present a bag of gifts from the people of Clifton to the people of Rwamkoma and in return they gave me a goat! It’s the first time I have ever been given a goat as a gift and I was pleased to see it was a healthy female which produced good quality milk.
“As I would not have been able to bring the animal back on the plane - unfortunately - I decided to auction the goat at the end of the service. That raised the equivalent of £50 which was given to support development projects in Mara,” said Dr Spencer.
He spent two weeks in Tanzania and was delighted to see how money raised in Brighouse is helping children and families in need in Africa. Pupils at St Andrew’s Infants School and St Andrew’s Junior School raised money last year to buy several goats to help needy families.
“Goat milk has been proved to be particularly beneficial to people with HIV and Aids. The project loans goats to needy families - especially those where there are members with HIV and Aids - so they can have the milk and, when a kid is born, start their own herd. Children from our two schools raised money to buy several goats to add to the project’s herd. It’s a very practical way for our community to help another.”
This year St Andrew’s Junior School pupils have raised £180 for the ‘Water for Life’ project in Mara which puts vital water pumps into remote villages.
“In many areas people have to walk huge distances to get water and this project is making a huge difference to many villages. I am proud of the children from Brighouse who are collecting money for this important project.”
St Martin’s Church and Bugwema village have been linked for almost 20 years and money raised in Brighouse has also helped provide a new vicarage for the Tanzanian church. Sally Empson from St Martin’s is set to visit Bugwema in February.
Dr Spencer said: “It was very inspiring to be able to go to Tanzania and see how money raised in Brighouse is making a real difference. It was been a great opportunity to be involved in building up the relationship between the churches here and in Tanzania, we have so much to learn from each other.”