Judith Smith – Founder & Director
Founder & Director, the Buturi Project
(Welcome in Swahili)
As a native of Tanzania, raised in Kenya, I had the opportunity to work as a volunteer in the refugee camps of Malawi and Mozambique. I witnessed, first hand, the powerlessness of women and children suffering from poverty, but whose lives – provided with the basic human rights of water, education and training – could be significantly transformed.
With my 25 years experience working with various women co-operatives in Africa, and hands-on experience, working with Oxfam and Africa’s Fair Trade corporates, I shared my knowledge in design in hand-crafted products. This has given me a solid platform to help look for sustainable solutions via social and business development.
This can only be achieved through education. I believe in re-engaging communities through education, whether it’s at grass-roots level or subsequent vocational training. I believe in introducing solutions to problems the community have long known about but have not had the resources to initiate themselves.
The Buturi Project began as a one-off water project, raising funds in Sidmouth, East Devon. Its success, due to co-ordination with African communities and other schools here in Devon, raised its profile with a network of like-minded professionals in Africa, the UK and USA, allowing it to grow and increase in its potential.
The Buturi School Academy has opened its doors as a learning centre for children, with the future plan to include adults with disabilities and special educational needs. Judith adds:
“As a Third World child blessed with an education abroad, in coming back to the reality of my homeland, I felt a deep sense of responsibility to my people; especially to the women who are the backbone of the family. In enabling these women to become independent and self-sustainable, I truly believe a new, fairer African community can be set-up.”
With this as my founding ethos, I continue to invest in The Buturi Project by seeking professional advice and partnerships with like-minded individuals and institutions.
(Thank you in Swahili)