A charity that aims to improve the living standards of people in rural Tanzania raised £6,000 at a Grand Ball held in the Edinburgh Conference Centre recently.

SASHITA is a Scottish charity established in 2008 to improve the living standards of the people of Samuye, a small village in the Shinyanga Rural District of Tanzania.

The charity aims to build a strong foundation for the women and young people, empowering them to take control of their own development, improving education, providing basic resources and raising awareness of their rights within the community. It aims to bring development changes to the community in the remote area of Samuye in terms of; agriculture, small businesses, micro- loan (finance) programmes, and other activities that might be beneficial.

The Grand Charity Ball was held in the James Watt Centre 2. Guests attended dressed in their finest traditional garb for an evening of Scottish and Tanzanian fusion. They were greeted on arrival by Masai warriors and entertained by various musical groups, including renowned dance band Heart Industry who played at JK Rowling’s wedding, before sitting down to a three course dinner and coffee.

SASHITA organiser, Lesley Lynch said:

“SASHITA was founded in 2008 by Maggie Mazoleka a Tanzanian woman, living, and working in Edinburgh for the last 19 years. The charity is run by a team of volunteers and trustees who are dedicated to improving the lives of people less fortunate than ourselves and living with poverty in the rural areas of Tanzania.

“The back ground for the Ball was to try and have one large event to help us raise money to complete the installation of a deep water well in the village of Samuye in the district of Shinyanga, Tanzania. We also wanted to initiated and stimulate public interest in the work and the vision of SASHITA. Part of our vision is to also play a role in education, healthcare and sustainable businesses within the same village. Overall we want to encourage the development and improvement of the lives of those living in this rural communities.

“We have undertaken many successful fundraising events in the past but this was by far the most ambitious. We wanted the Ball to be a fusion of African and Scottish Culture and entertainment. When we first started to organise our Grand Ball we were looking for a venue that would meet all our needs, the size and flexibility were important as was the costing for the whole event. We went to see many venues but as soon as we saw the James Watt 2 Centre at Heriot-Watt University and spoke to the events staff we knew this was the place.

“We were allocated our own co-ordinator, who worked with us on all aspects of the event. We were made to feel very welcome and that no question or request was too much bother. Charlotte Rutherford at the ECC went out of her way to make the arrangement as easy as possible. Nearer the event we were amazed by the support given to us by the catering managers who assisted us in making the right choices of menu and were very obliging when it came to asking for special menues etc. The expert skills of the AV staff and porters helped the whole evening run without a hitch. The two bands we had to entertain us on the evening were very impressed by the amazing facilities such as a good size stage area and more than enough plug sockets. The lighting which was put in place for the evening added to the fantastic atmosphere and needed no effort on our part. We had a brilliant night and managed to raise in excess of £6000 which we are delighted about. We would certainly consider using the centre at Riccarton again for future events and thank all the staff who worked so hard to make our event the success it was.

“The completion of the Deep well is hoped to be carried out in the next few months and then we will be able to concentrate on our other projects.”

Commercial Operations Manager at the Edinburgh Conference Centre, Lynne Geary said,

“We were delighted to host this event which raised significant funds to benefit people living in rural Tanzania.

“It shows the flexibility of the Edinburgh Conference Centre that we can hold such an event, and it also illustrates the diverse range of organisations that use our facilities.

“The Grand Charity Ball was a great success and we wish SASHITA and its members all the best in their future endeavours.”

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