Supporting Beekeepers in South Sudan

Supporting Beekeepers in South Sudan

June 2, 2024

A request for beekeeping support from South Sudan

South Sudan became the World’s newest country in 2011 following 20 years of civil wars. It remains unstable and the UK government advises against all travel. Support for communities in-country is therefore challenging and limited.

We received a request through our website for support from the Namatina Payam Community Beekeeping (NPCB), in South Sudan. They are s 600km West of Juba, the capital in a very remote region near the border with Central African Republic.

A long-established beekeeping community seeking to self-improve

 The community has practiced beekeeping for many generations, this is what they told us when they requested support:

“Beekeeping is a traditional income generating activities handed over to us by our ancestors and we educate our children through it. It’s a source of income handed down to us by our ancestors and we need to improve on it for better production.”

We were contacted by a member from the community who is now a lawyer in the capital, he told us that it was income from honey sales that helped pay for his education. They use log hives and make-shift tools with grass bundles for smokers (see photo).

Logistical challenges and making it happen

We first explored whether we could help them find support from an organization with a presence in South Sudan but found that there were none.  We could not ask our local partner in Uganda, the closest Bees Abroad country, to travel because of the security risk. The only option was to bring them to us. We arranged for three individuals, , who speak English  to make the 4 day journey to  Kasese in Uganda to receive training from Daniel and his team at LIDEFO, our local partner.

They arrived on World Bee Day, 20th May. On the agenda was training, securing equipment in Uganda (they have never had bee suits) and planning for the future. For eight days they had classroom training, practical training and apiary visits.  Beforehand they had not even known that honeybee colonies had workers, drones and a queen. 

What’s next for Namatina Payam Community Beekeeping (NPCB)?

NPCB are now part of our very active partner WhatsApp group where there is a constant exchange of experiences and knowledge.  Although we do not plan on establishing a presence in South Sudan we are considering how our local partner and trainer in Uganda can provide support remotely. We have been working with Daniel, the local trainer and founder of LIDEFO, for 10 years in Uganda. Daniel and LIDEFO have become a wealth of experience and have the capabilities to act as a hub to provide outreach and training in new areas.

Stay tuned for updates.

Food, Beekeeping & Social Justice – Campaign Summary

'Food, Beekeeping & Social Justice' campaign, Green Match Fund 2024

April 20, 2024
Food, Beekeeping and Social Justice logo on a yellow background. Subtitle: Empowering lives through sustainable beekeeping

'Food, Beekeeping & Social Justice' - Bringing it together

This year’s Green Match Fund campaign theme was ‘Food, Beekeeping & Social Justice’. Food production is at the intersection of the local and global environment and the day-to-day livelihoods of the communities we work with, facing the effects of climate change. Sustainable farming and beekeeping can help support the local environment while enabling communities to achieve a better quality of life. A win-win is possible for people and planet.

With so much going on, we wanted to bring it all together here, provide links to things you might have missed and hopefully get you excited about what we’re up to next.

Thank you! £10,000 for beekeeping communities

An enormous thank you to the 63 people who helped us reach our fundraising target and to all those who provided support and followed along with the campaign.

We raised an incredible £5,000 in donations, which was then doubled to a whopping £10,000 by the Big Give. This means we can now help more communities achieve more reliable and sustainable livelihoods, with beekeeping and this will change lives for the better.

We couldn’t do any of this without your kindness and generosity, so from the bottom of our hearts, thank you!

'Food, Beekeeping & Social Justice' Stories

Every week of the campaign we shared a new story on the theme of Beekeeping, Food & Social Justice. The articles cover stories from around Bees Abroad on how communities are empowering themselves though sustainable beekeeping and food production. The successes of these beekeeping projects are only possible through the generosity of our donors and supporters. The communities are the change makers, supporters like you are the enablers.

Excel Farmers Beekeeping Journey

An hour and a half’s drive away from Ibadan, Nigeria’s third largest city, lives a village community home to the Excel beekeeping group. This blog is written by them.

Read More >>

Social Justice and Beekeeping in Ghana

Earlier this April, Bees Abroad Partnership Manager, Trisha Marlow, visited Ghana. She reports back on what the communities told her about food insecurity, social justice and beekeeping.

Read More >>

Slow Food, Slow Beekeeping?

In 2019 Bees Abroad formalised a working relationship with Slow Foods International around collaborative working in Nigeria. Find out more about our relationship with the organisation Slow Food in Nigeria...

Read More >>

Informative and Inspiring Online Events

We ran three special online events to celebrate the theme of ‘Food, Beekeeping & Social Justice’. Two of the events are available on our YouTube channel.

Event 1: Sustainable Beekeeping, Food and Social Justice

Special guests Sarah Wyndham Lewis and Shane Holland shared their experiences with sustainable beekeeping, food production and social justice.

Sarah and Shane’s event picked off the campaign with an introduction to the main themes of sustainable beekeeping, sustainable food production and social justice including stories from communities they’ve worked with. Sarah shared an inspiring story on beekeeping in Copenhagen and Shane spoke about Slow Food in the UK and some of the projects they run, including working with some of the most underserved communities in the U.K. 

Event 2: Slow Food, Slow Beekeeping?

This event offered a unique opportunity working on Slow Food and beekeeping in Nigeria. This event included six speakers from across Bees Abroad communities in Nigeria.

Dr Modupe shared her story on founding the Emerald Forest Farm: restoring nature through organic farming and sustainable beekeeping. Elijah Asade, spokesperson for Abotokio Slow Food Beekeeping Community, shared how they are advocating for sustainable beekeeping including integrating it in to local school curricula.

Watch the event on YouTube to hear their full stories and hear from the other four speakers.

Supporter spotlight

We asked some of our supporters who donated to the Green Match Fund to share a few words with us..

Anthony

“I was glad to help your beekeeping cause with a donation. Your organization is doing great work especially by advancing beekeeping training to others. It is a noble cause. To reflect the giving mood I was in when made my donation I feel the attached picture sums it up. Thank you again for having offered your programs on your organization – I always enjoyed tuning in.”

Nadia

“It’s great news that BA have reached their target.

Why do I support BA: I like to invest my effort in every activity which I deem sustainable, and Bees Abroad is one of them: sustainable environmentally and financially.

Moreover, the team of volunteers is very good company!”

Catherine

“I found out about Bees Abroad though the BBKA magazine. Bees Abroad were advertising a zoom lecture on two bee related subjects. 

Since then I have received emails with the amazing work that the charity does for community’s and inspirational individuals though beekeeping. 

Beekeeping has given me a lot in various ways and I can only hope that by supporting Bees Abroad this will give others the help and support they need to become successful beekeepers and importantly leading to a sustainable livelihood.”

“Mother’s Love” – Shaban’s story

“Mother’s Love” – Shaban’s story

March 10, 2024
The Hive Mama's of Tanzania stand with Shaban, a 7 year old boy with Albinism who they helped access school
The Hive Mama's of Tanzania stand with Shaban, a 7 year old boy with Albinism who they helped access school

The Hive Mamas and Shaban

The Hive Mama’s in Tanzania have countless heartwarming stories to tell. The most recent story is of a young boy called Shaban. The Hive Mama’s show why their group is also know as “Mother’s Love”

Partnership Manager for Tanzania, Rachel Monger, shared this story:

There was a certain old woman who came to the Upendo wa Mama women’s group last week as they were making batik at their workshop in Mwanza. She has a grandson, Shaban, (age 7) who was born with albinism and abandoned by his mother. The father had also rejected the baby and the mother left him with his grandmother. No one knows where the mother or father are now.

The grandmother lives on Kome Island, where the stigma is far worse than in the city of Mwanza; she wanted to send Shaban to the government school but teachers and students were segregating him. She heard about Mitindo school in Mwanza, for children with albinism but she didn’t have even shoes for Shaban, no school uniform or anything which could support him to start school.

Through her sister in Mwanza, she heard about the women of “Mother’s Love” and she came to find them at their workshop and told them her story and how she is in need for her grandson.

The mamas pledged that they would do what they could to help and asked her to return after one week. One week later they received their Mama Hive salaries.

The Hive Mamas used their salaries to purchase almost everything that was needed: School trousers, socks, bar soaps, exercise book, blanket, suitcase to keep all his things at school, underwear, bucket and basin, toothpaste and toothbrush, mosquito net, and shoes … and 25,000 TZS. (£8)

Shaban came with his grandma to the workshop and received all these items which he has taken to start at his new school.

Bees Abroad trustee awarded MBE

Bees Abroad trustee awarded MBE

January 8, 2024

Kay Williams, Bees Abroad trustee, has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours list 2024. Kay is being awarded the honour of Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to the international environment and charitable services to Bees Abroad.   

Christine Ratcliffe, Communications and Fundraising Manager at Bees Abroad, spoke to Kay about her achievement: 

 

 First of all, congratulations on being awarded an MBE, Kay!   

Q: Being recognised with an MBE is a tremendous achievement. Could you share your personal reflections on this award? 
A: This award recognises not only my efforts but also those from many different sectors and stakeholder groups working hard internationally to protect our shared global environment from the harm caused by pollution especially chemicals and waste.  These efforts complement Bees Abroad which works to enable communities to empower themselves through sustainable beekeeping.  Without a pollution free environment, bees do not thrive. 

 Q: This award recognises your lifetime of work to date. Can you share a personal reflection on the journey that led you to become involved with Bees Abroad? 
A: I first became involved in beekeeping around six years ago when I decided that I needed a hobby.  As social insects, bees are endlessly fascinating, and I trained with my local Beekeeping Association (the CBKA) to learn how to keep them.  Having always had an interest in international development, I admired the ethos and values of Bees Abroad and wanted to combine my passions.   

 Q: You’ve been working with Bees Abroad for three years. Can you highlight one or two key milestones or projects that you are particularly proud of during that time?
A: I am particularly proud of how Bees Abroad has evolved over the last few years.  Under the leadership of Richard Ridler, the Chair of the trustees, the charity has truly become a professional player having revamped its processes, rebranded its image, hired a CEO and become a 21st century charity whilst making sure that nearly all donations are still spent overseas. 

Q: Reflecting on your experiences with Bees Abroad, what valuable lessons have you learned that you would like to share?
A: If you become involved in a small charity then be prepared to turn your hand to anything and everything! 

Q: Having accomplished this recognition of your work to date, what’s next on the horizon for you and your work with Bees Abroad? 
A: I would like to continue to work with Bees Abroad in increasing its profile, support its work on the ground, particularly with women, and help the charity on its journey to be the international experts on beekeeping for communities overseas. 

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share: insights, reflections, hopes for the future as we enter a new year?
A:  Aim high, work hard and have fun. 

 

Thank you, Kay, for sharing your insights and congratulations once again on this well-deserved recognition. We look forward to your continued contributions to our work.  

Elizabeth's story


Rachel Monger, Country Manager for Tanzania, shared a first-person account from Elizabeti, mother to a young child with albinism.

Elizabeti, based in northern Tanzania, was eighteen and 5 months pregnant with her first child when her husband died. Grieving, she went back to her family and in time gave birth to her child, a child with albinism. She named him Baraka, which means “blessing” but she was immediately cut off from her late husband’s family; shunned and shamed, she was seen as a curse and the cause of her husband’s death.

Later, a man approached Elizabeti and her family, asking to marry her. The family was initially delighted at this unexpected turn of events. But before the marriage took place, Elizabeti was approached secretively by a friend of the man, who warned her that the future husband had dark intentions to kill her child in order to sell his body parts for witchcraft.

Elizabeti broke off the engagement with the man, but after being attacked but escaping intruders in her home one night, she knew the life of her child was in danger, and her own life at risk as well. Warned of imminent danger one night a week later by a friend, she fled in the darkness, running with her baby boy for his life. She ended up in Mwanza, where she found the support of Under the Same Sun. She received a sewing machine and was looking to support herself and her child by sewing clothes when she joined the Upendo wa Mama (“Mother’s Love”) group.

Now, nine years later, Elizabeti is happily married with more beautiful children. She has trained and excelled in her sewing skills and is valued member of the albinism women’s group, making beeswax products to sell. She takes the handmade batiks that the women make and turns them into aprons, cushion covers and cloth napkins. During COVID, she sewed an uncountable number of colourful batik face masks!

And now, with support from Bees Abroad, as the women start their own honey and beeswax social enterprise as a national NGO, rebranding themselves as “Mama Hive,” Elizabeti is boldly taking a step not many women in Tanzania have taken … onto a motorbike! She has spent the last few months with MJ Piki (“Mwanamke Jasiri ya PikiPiki” or “Brave women on motorcycles”) learning how to drive and maintain a motorbike. She is about to start her training on a 3-wheeler, in order to become the official driver for the Mama Hive Bajaji.

This exciting new project is going to convert a normal Tanzanian bajaj (3-wheeler used for transporting goods) into a trendy mobile shop which the women will take around the city to sell honey and beeswax products.

From the desperate terror of running for her life with her baby boy, Elizabeti is now a brave advocate for women and children with albinism. She has overcome persecution, adversity and stigma; gone from being homeless, alone and destitute to being part of social enterprise earning her own income, to show that truly this beeswax artisan can!

This Beekeeper Can – Campaign Summary

'This Beekeeper Can' campaign, Christmas Big Give 2023

January 5, 2024
Big Give 2023 wrap up blog header image with a heart shaped photo of farmers and beekeepers on crutches in a field in Sierra Leone. The text reads "This Beekeeper Can" - Christmas Big Give 2023
Four women of The Hive, Tanzania standing outside. Two of them have Albinism. They are all holding wheels of bees wax

This Beekeeper Can - Bringing it together

What an exciting campaign full of events, stories and competitions! This year our campaign theme was ‘This Beekeeper Can’ a play on the Nike ‘This Girl Can’. The aim of this campaign was to raise funds to support marginalised groups through beekeeping and showcase some of their incredible achievements.

With so much going on, we wanted to bring it all together here to celebrate achievements, provide links to things you might have missed and hopefully get you excited about what we’re up to next!  

The Big Give Christmas Campaign – thank you!

Bees Abroad’s Big Give 2023 campaign was a great success! We raised 102% of our target, thank you!

Not only that but our case study on the campaign won a further £2,000 in unrestricted funds from the Big Give!

We shared some truly amazing stories and held two inspiring and informative events. You can catch-up on all of that below.

The image shows bee farmers on crutches in a field in Sierra Leone. The campaign logo, which is the words 'This Beekeeper Can' is overlaid on the image. A second text overlay reading 'We hit the target! Thank you' is displayed under the logo

'This Beekeeper Can' Stories

We shared seven inspiring stories from individuals and communities we work with in the run-up to and during the campaign. These stories really are incredible. Read about the progressive women beekeepers of Nigeria bouncing back from deliberate hive vandalism, how footballers on crutches became beekeepers on crutches in Sierra Leone and the emotional and heartwarming story of the women of The Hive, Tanzania. 

Elizabeti’s story

From the desperate terror of running for her life with her baby boy, Elizabeti is now a brave advocate for women and children with albinism. She has overcome persecution, adversity...

Read More >>

Ambassadors of Hope

How the 'Hive Mama's' became ambassadors for albinism and created a thriving social enterprise by taking bees wax from waste to premium product.

Read More >>

Crimes of Colour, a Ray of Hope

Rachel Monger, Partnership Manager for Tanzania, shares first-person accounts from women with albinism and why having albinism can lead to marginalisation and persecution in Tanzania.

Read More >>

The unstoppable women beekeepers in Nigeria

Amidst the challenges of gender inequality in Nigeria, the Ori-eru (Iwo) progressive beekeepers have created a thriving enterprise based on self-reliance and collaboration. This group of self-organizing Muslim women are...

Read More >>

Accessible beekeeping in Sierra Leone

What does accessible beekeeping mean in Sierra Leone? The Bees Abroad workshop help answer questions such as what is the right height for a hive for someone with an amputation,...

Read More >>

Sierra Leone: beekeepers on crutches

The civil war in Sierra Leone left an estimated 27,000 people with an amputation or disability. It's often assumed that amputees can't contribute to society but there's a group smashing...

Read More >>

Informative and Inspiring Online Events

We were lucky enough to have three amazing guest speakers do events with us. We ran events to celebrate the theme of ‘This Beekeeper Can’.We ran two events on this theme.

Accessible Beekeeping: History and Practices 

The first event was “Accessible Beekeeping: History and Practices”. At this event our guest speaker, Justin Ruger, the founder of the US based charity, Accessible Beekeeping shared the history of accessible beekeeping, his personal journey, and the practicalities of beekeeping with a disability. 

The Transformative Power of Beekeeping

For our second online event we were joined by two guest speakers.

Sarah Wyndham Lewis, author and co-founder of Bermondsey Street Bees, shared a remarkable tale from Greece where beekeeping revived an isolated rural community.

Our second guest speaker, Stephen Douglas, founder of Pure Buzzin’, shared heart-warming stories of inclusive beekeeping from North Tyneside.

Image shows the phrase '7 days, 7 prizes' with heart shaped photos of three of the prizes

Seven Days, Seven Prizes - Prize Draw

Each day of the Big Give week, we randomly selected a donor who gave to our campaign that day to receive a prize!  To be eligible, you simply had to donate to the Big Give and opt-in to communications.

What was up for grabs? 

1. Bee Our Guest – Overnight stay at The Royal Lancaster 
2. The Ritz Afternoon Tea – afternoon tea for two at The Ritz, London 
3. The Hive, Selfridges Afternoon Tea – afternoon tea for two at The Hive, Selfridges
4. Nidhoggr Mead – A bottle of traditional mead from Nidhoggr Mead Company
5. Borough Market treats – A Jute bag and cook book from Borough Market 
6. MightyFine Hamper – A tasty chocolate gift box from Mighty Fine
7. Signed copy of “Buzz” – A signed copy of “Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bee” by biologist and award-winning author Thor Hanson

A big Bees Abroad thank you to our Prize Draw donors!

Prize Draw donors

'This Beekeeper Can' on display

A big thank you to the businesses who helped us spread the word that ‘This Beekeeper Can’. Lots of businesses kindly put our campaign postcards and bookmarks on display, some of them include Provision in Bermondsey, From Field and Flower in Borough Market and Morocco Bound Cafe