John’s mercy mission to help farmers grow

The primary school for orphans and vulnerable children at Ngculwini in Swaziland, built by Action Four Africa in 2008.
The primary school for orphans and vulnerable children at Ngculwini in Swaziland, built by Action Four Africa in 2008.

An Alnwick-born aid worker is returning from Swaziland to gain support for the construction of a vital farmer-training centre in Africa.

John Weatherson is the co-founding director of Action Four Africa, a registered non-governmental organisation (NGO).

John Weatherson

John Weatherson

And the home of the organisation is his 750-hectare farm in Komati Valley in northern Swaziland.

Having built a primary school for orphans and disadvantaged children in 2008, Action Four Africa is now developing a farmer-training centre with sustainable food production demonstration gardens and fields. The current building of an office and staff accomodation is nearly complete.

There will be accomodation for 36 young people and will provide training to many disadvantaged youths wanting to learn about food production.

John is providing the land but is seeking help with material costs, which will be around two million Emalangeni, which is in the region of £154,000.

During his trip back to Alnwick he wants to talk to interested groups about the work of Action Four Africa, as well as sharing stories about his travels around the world and his fascinating interactions with farmers in developing countries.

He will be hosting a talk on Saturday, October 6, in the Castle Suite at the White Swan Hotel. It begins at 1pm and is free and open to the public.

“Action Four Africa focuses its support on orphans and vulnerable children,” he said.

“The NGO works with schools and small farms, who often care for orphans and vulnerable children, providing education in four major areas – sustainable food production, water, hygiene and sanitation, and life skills.

“Sustainable and ‘climate- smart’ agricultural practices, such as conservation agriculture, are promoted in all of our activities.”

John, now 61, first went to Swaziland aged 22 after being brought up on a Northumberland farm and attending the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester to study agriculture. During his travels he has visited and sometimes worked in Venezuela, Colombia, Jamaica,Trinidad and Tobago, and northern Mozambique.

For the last six years he has been undertaking international consultancy missions to countries including Ethiopia, Sudan, Zambia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Panama, Australia and Thailand.