Funded by the Welsh Assembly Government’s Wales for Africa Framework and managed by Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) the Gold Star project is expected to reflect considerable benefits to Welsh communities as well as to Africa.
Hosted by First Minister Rhodri Morgan, the event will highlight the contribution being made by the five towns successfully selected to pilot the linking scheme with their African partners, who will be joined at the Senedd by representatives from across Wales looking to join the new Gold Star network to develop links with Africa.
First Minister, Rhodri Morgan said the people of Wales were renowned for their internationalist outlook and their desire to help those elsewhere in the world less fortunate than us living in Wales.
Devolution has strengthened that interest in the great big world outside Wales. I am pleased to say that this groundbreaking project is testament to that interest in the rest of the world.
All over Wales, thousands of people are active in their own way to support international development. Through the Wales for Africa Framework, the Welsh Assembly Government is giving those people in Wales with an interest in poor continents a real chance to get involved and to have the right professional back-up.
More than a billion people in the world live in on less than $1 a day, and in a world of growing wealth, such levels of human suffering and wasted potential are unacceptable. In linking Welsh and African communities in this way and helping to develop education and poverty reduction schemes we are bringing the global community closer and closer together. It also helps us realise that getting rid of poverty will make for a better world for everybody.
This wonderful programme will help to make sure there’s a welcome in the hillside in both the Welsh valleys and Africa’s Great Rift Valley.
Together they will contribute to the creation of a ‘Gold Star’ framework of standards and good practise in linking, aligned to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals on poverty reduction. The Wales pilot is being developed with the support of the UN, to produce a model for recognising and spreading quality community partnerships that address issues such as fair and just trade, climate change and the environment, children’s rights and social inclusion.
Gold Star Project Manager Craig Owen said:
This is about making real the seemingly distant challenge of global development by enabling communities in Wales and sub-Saharan Africa to connect, to share ideas and beliefs, tackle stereotypes and solve mutual challenges.
Dr. Geoff Lloyd, Chair of PONT, the Pontypridd – Mbale (Uganda) Link, said:
The Link has been a life-changing experience for over 120 people from different walks of life – doctors, teachers, engineers, churches, business people - who have been involved in exchanges with Uganda, providing opportunities for professional development, skills exchanges and education here in Rhondda Cynon Taff.
It has also allowed us to see a direct impact on poverty through training health workers, providing malaria nets and setting up a Coalition Against Poverty in both communities - making a real difference to the the lives of people and friends who we see as equals. We have as much to learn from them, as they do from us.
The launch will also feature music from Cardiff based group ‘Love Africa’ and speeches from WCVA Chief Executive Graham Benfield, OBE, Gold Star Project Manager Craig Owen and Director ABESU, the Wales – Zambia Link, Mutale Nyoni.
The Gold Star project has been endorsed by South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The work you’re doing in communities in Wales and Africa on the Millennium Development Goals is marvellous,’ he said. ‘Keep your passion going, and you will change the world!
Notes to editors:
• The Gold Star Project is a pilot between the Wales Civil Society MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) Task Force (membership below) and BUILD UK (Building Understanding through International Links in Development), funded by the Assembly Government’s Wales for Africa framework, managed by and delivered through WCVA (Wales Council for Voluntary Action). Active participants include the British Council, ContinYou, Dolen Cymru Wales – Lesotho Link, Network of Development Researchers, Oxfam Cymru, Save The Children Wales, TUC Wales, Wales Somaliland Link, Wales Association of County Voluntary Councils, the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and Welsh Refugee Council.
• Pilot communities for the Gold Star Project are: Brecon – Molo (Kenya), Brynycwm (Abergavenny area) – Yirgacheffe (Ethiopia), Crymych (Pembrokeshire) – Hlotse (Lesotho), Hay on Wye – Timbuktu (Mali), Pontypridd – Mbale (Uganda)
• Associate Projects include: Blaenau Gwent – Endonisidai (Kenya), Cardiff and Vale Health Link – N’djamena (Chad), Conwy – Mafia Island (Tanzania), Powys - MDGs Network, Somaliland – Wales Link, St David’s – Mafeteng (Lesotho), Swansea - Paynesville (Liberia), Swansea – Swaziland, Torfaen / Newport – Masvingo (Zimbabwe), Ynys Mon – Matsieng (Lesotho)
• The Gold Star Project will be launching online from Tuesday, 16 October at www.goldstarcommunities.org.uk. For further information contact Project Manager Craig Owen at WCVA on 029 2043 1700.
16 October 2007