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From Timbuktu to Hay-on-Wye
20th September 2013update by: Hay 2 Timbuktu


Hay-on-Wye is to welcome a delegation of teachers and midwives from Timbuktu. The visit has been arranged by local charity Hay2Timbuktu and their health group, Medics4Timbuktu, and has been funded by the Welsh Assembly and the EU. Timbuktu and Hay have been linked since the formal twinning of the towns in 2007.

Relations between the two towns have been disrupted over the last 18 months, following the arrival of Islamist rebels in Timbuktu. Communications broke down temporarily and project work was put on hold. However, following French intervention, the situation is beginning to normalise and the visit will help to re-establish important links.

The visitors will be greeted officially by Hay Town Council and will spend time in schools and hospitals during their visit. They will also be taken on escorted visits to local sites of interest and Cardiff. There will be an opportunity for the local community to meet the visitors at a special event at Hay Castle on 28th September,12pm – 4pm. The event will include African inspired food, children’s workshops and plenty of music and entertainment. Local shops will be celebrating the visit with Timbuktu themed window displays throughout the week.

Rob Golesworthy, Mayor of Hay welcomed the visit: “It’s a pleasure to welcome our friends from Timbuktu. Our thoughts have been with the people of Mali over the recent difficult months, and we have been pleased to offer practical support through our local charities. We have a very special relationship, inspired by a shared love of the written word, and we look forward to showing them all that Hay has to offer, and to hear more about the unique culture of Timbuktu”.

During their visit, the two midwives will spend time with Powys midwives in the community and then with midwives in Hereford hospital, learning new skills which they can then share with colleagues back in Timbuktu. Similarly, the teachers will be spending time in Hay, Clifford, Llanigon and Talgarth primary schools and in Gwernyfed High School and Christ College, to share teaching and learning experiences across the two countries. These activities link with the work that local charity, Hay2Timbuktu, supports. These include a ‘girls in school’ fund, which improves literacy levels and encourages girls to start a family later, thereby reducing rates of maternal death. The maternal health project provides training, medicines and a motorbike ambulance to transport women to clinics.

The learning will not all be one way, however. Chair of Hay2Timbuktu, Sandra Skinner, said: “We are keen to find out more about life in Timbuktu, particularly how the communities come together to share stories, music and arts. We’re hoping to initiate some new links with our twin town around pottery and textiles so this is a wonderful opportunity to hear about these skills first hand”.

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