St Andrew's, Stapleford - Nachingwea Link
The Link between St Andrew’s Church, Stapleford, Cambridgeshire and St Andrew’s Church, Nachingwea, was set up in 1981 by British missionary, Fr Bill Spencer, the vicar of Nachingwea, and his friend Revd Colin Davison, the vicar of Stapleford. Over the early years, a series of reciprocal visits to and from Nachingwea built friendship, trust and a common understanding of the many challenges faced by the Nachingwea community. The Link is now well established and active across many areas. The Operating Framework for the Link is here.
While the Link is between Christian communities, the aim has been to help the whole population, some 40% of whom are Muslim, while others follow traditional beliefs. Fortunately, inter-faith relations in the region are good.
Nachingwea is in Southern Tanzania, East Africa, in the Region of Lindi and the Diocese of Masasi, near the border with Mozambique. This is a remote and sparsely populated area, some 590 km from Dar es Salaam. The Nachingwea District population is around 200,000 in 26 rural centres ranging in size from tiny hamlets to over 16,000 people.
Nachingwea was the centre of the ill-fated Groundnut Scheme in the 1940s, but when that project failed, it was neglected for decades. In recent years however, Nachingwea has started to develop rapidly: the hospital has been renovated, there is a teacher training college with capacity for 800 students, several secondary and primary schools, classes for children with special needs and a day care centre.