I think many of us may take for granted that the tools we need to do our jobs are readily available to buy or will be provided by our employer, but for those less fortunate in poorer communities around the world, employment opportunities, training and tools are not so easy to come by.
For my 12 Days of Giving, I went along to the Medway Volunteer Centre in Kent to spend a day with Tools with a Mission, a Christian charity that collects unwanted tools, refurbishes them, sorts them into trade kits and sends them across the world for livelihood creation.
Tools with a Mission really does provide a lifeline and a way for individuals and communities to transform themselves and avoid the harm and suffering that’s often associated with poverty and lack of work opportunities. Each year the charity sends around 20 containers filled with over 300 tonnes of tools to places including Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
I spent the day with the team of volunteers, many of whom are retired trade professionals, including electricians, gas fitters and builders. Like a well-oiled machine (at least they were before I turned up) they can easily sort through and refurbish hundreds of tools a day. On one work bench old drills and electrical appliances were stripped and serviced and made like new. Another team were methodically breaking down unsalvageable tools and recycling the metals ready to be sold for scrap. Sewing machines are another sought after tool in the developing world and I was pleased to learn that a dedicated team refurbish these each and every week. I spent my time sorting through the many donations of electrical, building and carpentry tools that had arrived. Rusty toolbox after rusty toolbox needed to be opened and sorted. The sad truth is a lot of these tools are donated by the loved ones of men and women who have sadly passed away.
As I looked through the tools, I could not help but think about and remember the men and women who once used them. Inside the boxes there were small clues as the identity of the previous owners, initials lovingly carved into a specialist micrometer gauge, car parts from a treasured Reliant Robin, a small bottle of whisky and a battered old tobacco tin filled with carefully numbered screws. I knew however that those dearly departed would take much pleasure in knowing that their tools were being passed on and used again to help create new livelihoods and do good for others.
I took great satisfaction in giving some old tools a new lease of life and packing them into boxes for electricians, builders and carpenters around the world. I thought about the different people that might use them, the satisfaction they would get from receiving them and the different projects and jobs that they would be used for.
Talking to the selfless volunteers at Tools with a Mission they certainly enjoy the camaraderie they have with one another and they are truly motivated by giving back and helping the poorer communities around the world find support, hope and dignity through the provision of tools and equipment. What a great mission and a great motivation!
Thanks to all the team for welcoming me and allowing me to spend the day with them. Keep up the fantastic work that you do.
To find out more about the charity and to donate time, tools or money please visit https://www.twam.uk/