A PIONEERING African development project run by a York woman has taken a major step towards becoming self sufficient.

Amy Tew, who is 28 and grew up in Acomb, now lives in rural Tanzania running the LivLife education project, which gives training in English, computers, French, tailoring, and other skills.

But the project faced a new challenge recently when the economic downturn meant funding from UK started to dry up, so Amy and the students and staff decided to take matters into their own hands by tackling a half marathon.

In total six students and former students who have all benefited from the free training LivLife offers completed the gruelling race on Africa’s highest mountain on March 2, and Amy was part of the support crew cheering them on.

Amy said: “Seeing our students all cross the finish line with smiles on their faces, after so many months of hard work and preparation, made me incredibly proud.”

The challenge raised £3,000 for the project, with £200 coming from donations from staff, students and local businesses in Tanzania.

Amy, who went to Poppleton Road Primary School, then Manor School and York College, said it was the first time students and staff had taken the lead on bringing in money to run the centre, and the cash raised would make a huge difference.

She added: “The amount of hard work and commitment from the runners has been really inspiring, and the fantastic level of support from the local community has been overwhelming.

“The amount raised will fund the centre for six weeks, pay for three full-time teachers for a year, or cover the cost of providing kindergarten at our two outreach centres, including a meal of porridge each day for 100 children, for a year.”

Among the runners was Shadrack Misanana, who arrived at the centre in 2010 as a student and went on to train as a teacher. He is now the assistant manager and has helped other students by launching a work experience programme.

The oldest runner was father-of-two Yohana Noah, aged 30, who left his home more than 100km away to train in sustainable tourism. He left his traditonal Maasai homestead – or boma – as the ancient pastorlist lifestyle became tougher to maintain, and now hopes to become a guide and teach people about east Africa’s indigenous wildlife and vegetation in places like the Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Mikumi national parks.

Amy’s first visit to Africa came in a council-funded youth exchange trip to Ghana while she was a student at York College. Since then the former Manor School pupil has done a degree in African Studies with Development and worked in Uganda before arriving in Tanzania in 2013.

Although Amy has lived in a small village outside of Arusha called Meserani, in Tanzania, since 2013, she still tries to head back to York every Christmas to visit her parents, who still live in the city.

More details on LivLife are available online at www.livlife.org