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From Hackney to Africa – the charity that has changed lives!

What started as an experiment in identity and culture, ended with a life changing mission for Robert Nestor after taking part in a Channel 4 reality show nearly twenty years ago.

Structured more like a gameshow than an anthropological study, and angled more towards entertainment than science, Going Native (Channel 4, 2001) was a reality TV documentary that offered a useful, if crude, examination of how western experience adapts to African imperatives.

Initially, the Nestor family from London struggled less with the conditions than with fitting in with the people and their customs. But when the camera’s stopped rolling, a new reality dawned on one member of the family and in 2019, Robert Nestor is still actively working in Swaziland.

Robert Nestor has helped to build a school, a pre-school, a clinic and a football program, regularly travelling from his home in London. We hear from Charity founder Robert Nestor, about his continued work in Swaziland, Africa.

Where it all began

20 years ago my then partner and I took part in a channel 4 documentary called ‘Going Native’.

The location for the documentary was Swaziland. When the filming was all done and the crew had left it was only than that we actually started to see the actual realities of living in rural Africa and the hardships that people have to deal with daily, seeing it first - hand changed everything.

20 years ago this community had no electricity when the sun came up that’s when you got up and started doing your daily chores. because of its rural location it wasn’t easy to get things done.

Creating opportunities that change lives

In 2007 our primary school opened, catering for 200 children, we decided on building a school in the community because the nearest school was 8 miles away so building a school was the logical thing to do. Our pre-school Mungos opened a few years later, the pre-school building doubles up as a clinic and we also run our feeding program from there.

Nelsiwe Shongwa manages our pre -school, and her husband Senzo Shongwa is our project manager both of these individuals are key people in our organisation, having people that live in the community coordinate and take control of their community has always been the aim and a key goal of AVSF.

Our pre school is the only part of our charity that has to generate an income because the pre-school teachers can’t work for free so fees have to be paid. The development of these programs in this region has given the community a new direction going forward.

Hamsey Rangers Swaziland F.C.

I started the football program 10yrs ago, with the intention of using football as a tool to teach the young men about HIV and how to prevent it but because of lack of financial support and the stigma that went with it culturally it just didn’t work in that region, but even though it didn’t develop into what I had hoped would be a worthwhile program it has taken its own course, and Hamsey Rangers Swaziland F.C is now top of our league.

We have our own ground that we are in the process of developing as a football ground and community centre.

Doing my little bit to make change

I can’t change the world or what other people want to do with their lives I can only do my little bit, and hope that what I did made a difference, anyone can talk but there has to be a point in time when the talking has to stop and you must start implementing your words into actions. If you’d like to contribute and support the charity, we appreciate any help that is offered, and we’re thanking you all in advance.

Robert Nestor

Find out how you can support the charity here:

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