The ideas behind PONT started in the 1980s when volunteers from Pontypridd who worked in camps in Ethiopia and Sudan saw how the amount of aid raised in the town was higher than the norm because people were able to hear first hand accounts of the work undertaken, and they became more informed and involved as donors.
15 years later, a group met to think through ideas for a longer term town partnership. We wanted to harness this grassroots interest to help deliver the Millennium Development Goals on poverty, health and education. The question was how – and where – could we make a specific difference to the lives of people in poverty?
After considering and visiting five other African countries we made our first visit to Mbale In 2002. From the very outset we knew we had found the right place for our town twinning idea. We had a very gracious welcome from the political leaders, the church leaders and the indigenous NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations). They were all enthusiastic about working with us, and that meant they were willing to work with each other.
The people of Mbale district were amongst some of the poorest in Africa, with average income less than $1 per day, average life expectancy of 46, and infant mortality rates of about 200 per thousand.