Old Shinyanga’s ECD centre takes shape: In memory of James Sanford

20th May 2016

James volunteered with Raleigh in Ghana in 2002. “The experience made him extremely happy and helped to mould the resourceful, thoughtful, caring and practical young man we loved,” said Charles. “He travelled extensively in his life, and Africa retained a special place in his heart. James was passionate about his time with Raleigh and would strongly endorse any contribution to help them continue the excellent work they do.”

James sanford

The funds that Charles and his team raised are enabling a project in the community of Old Shinyanga in Tanzania. In partnership with Save the Children, volunteers are constructing an Early Childhood Development centre to improve access to education for the community’s youngest children. Raleigh’s Alumni Development Manager, Emily Prince, reflects on her recent visit to the community.

“When I arrived in Old Shinyanga, the volunteers were carrying out mobile awareness raising sessions about water, sanitation, hygiene and nutrition. We walked around the village, stopping at houses, cafes and shops, talking to community members about the importance of purifying water, washing your hands and a healthy diet.


The following morning, I visited the site of the brand new Early Childhood Development centre, which sits next to Old Shinyanga Primary School. I was shown around the existing primary school classrooms, where the nursery had over-spilled into an adjacent classroom, with no room for these young children to play and enjoy learning. These children, aged three to six, are the ones who will benefit most from the new ECD centre, where they will prepare for their first year of primary school.



I met the head builder of the project, the nursery teachers, and a mother whose two children will attend the centre. I also met the ‘Village Mama’ – a passionate and dedicated woman who governs the two hamlets of Old Shinyanga and Ihapa. Her granddaughters will also attend nursery here. She told me how the children in the community struggle when they start primary school at the age of seven, often having not experienced a school environment before. Many of them speak their own regional dialect, not Swahili, which is used in schools. The ECD centre will better prepare children for starting primary education; learning basic Swahili, numeracy and literacy.


With the head teacher of the primary school also overseeing the project, there is a vested interest in ensuring its success. He told me that the centre will give the children the best chance of success at the primary level. As well as formal learning, the centre will also provide them with the chance to play; to sing, socialise and have fun with other young children.

“Can you please tell us about James?” The community members wanted to know how and why a group of people in the UK had raised worked so hard and money to help people they didn’t know; in a country they had never been to. They were deeply moved by James’ story, by his brother’s decision to remember him in this way, and by the lengths he went to to fund the ECD centre in tribute.”


On behalf of Raleigh, we would like to thank the generosity and dedication of Charles Sanford, his family and friends who made the project possible.

Alumni Raleigh Expedition Tanzania