Rory Simmons, aged 19, of Syston, is pictured above teaching in Tanzania, has returned from a seven-week project where he worked on a water, sanitation and hygiene project at Nanenane school in Nyamwezi.
Funded by his employer Buildbase, Rory worked alongside six of his colleagues as part of a project with sustainable development charity, Raleigh International. As well as constructing 18 new toilets, a hand washing station and a menstrual hygiene management room, Rory helped run workshops on hygiene with the children.
Rory said, “When you lead those lessons, afterwards you feel like you’re having more of an impact. It seems like a little thing, but when you come to realise the impact of hand washing – when you do it, you realise it genuinely saves lives.”
The rural Tanzanian village was a world away from Rory’s life in Leicester, where he works as Assistant Branch Manager at Buildbase Syston.
“In my day-to-day life I turn on a tap
and get water, I press a switch and there’s electricity to watch TV. The things I take for granted aren’t there in some villages in Africa,” said Rory.
“Adaptability was really important. You strip your life back down to the absolute basic things and you realise you have to appreciate people. For me I’ve matured being here I think. You realise more what’s important in life.”
The Buildbase volunteers found that having previous relevant knowledge and skills helped them acclimatise to the new working environment. Knowledge of construction, such as use of cement, gravel and sand, as well as communication and leadership skills were developed as part of the project.
Rory said: “I go onsite quite a bit, so I have to get on with people for a living. This was useful in that environment because you’re with people all the time, so you have to get along. I’m only 19 and want to be a manager, and I want to move up quickly. This project has given me the opportunity to progress.”
Buildbase funded seven employees aged between 17-24 to volunteer on the project with Raleigh.
Adrian Watts, Managing Director at Hirebase, a division of Buildbase, led the initiative after hearing Raleigh staff speak about how to become a responsible business at the Hire Association Europe convention:
“The opportunity to make a difference by collaborating with Raleigh International marks a key step forward in making our corporate responsibility activities tangible. The future potential of our young employees is so important to our business and projects like this can really help them achieve their goals and make a difference.”
Kate Tinsley, CEO at Buildbase visited the volunteers in Tanzania: “It was brilliant to see how the project and volunteers were developing. The short-term benefits of the new facilities were obvious, but we also got a sense of the longevity of our contribution with classes and workshops helping educate the community.”