A RETIRED headmaster who founded a charity to provide hope and opportunity to a poverty-stricken region of Africa, has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List.
David Chaplin, chief executive officer of Rwanda Aid, has been given an OBE for services to disadvantaged and vulnerable people in South West Rwanda.
Following the news of his award, David said: “I was absolutely delighted. It’s also lovely to have recognition and endorsement of the work for everyone involved. At the end of the day it’s a team effort. There are a number of people here and in Rwanda who have contributed to this and I hope they see it as an endorsement for the work they have done.”
David, who lives in Peasmarsh, found out he was to be made an OBE weeks ago, but had to keep the news quiet.
He admitted it was ‘very tempting’ to tell his family, including his son, Keane frontman Tom Chaplin.
David added: “I have had so many lovely messages, which is really fantastic. People are incredibly generous.”
David spent six months in Rwanda in 2003, shortly after retiring from Vinehall School in Robertsbridge, where he was headmaster for 25 years.
After seeing the suffering first hand, David continued his charity work in the country, setting up Rwanda Aid in 2008.
The charity has the backing of many generous supporters, including businesses and schools, in particular Vinehall, Kings house School in Richmond and Devonshire House School in Hampstead.
Rwanda Aid has a number of core projects, including working with children with disabilities and children who have been abandoned to the street.
The charity is currently setting up its own community care and training centre.
David said: “We are gradually devolving more and more responsibility to our Rwandan team and we see that as important that we work with Rwanda. The future of the country rests with the country and the government.”
Speaking about the people Rwanda Aid helps, David said: “When you see them finding new hope and opportunities, it’s very heartening.”
A spokesperson for the charity said: “Rwanda Aid is delighted that David’s tireless and committed work in Rwanda has been recognised with the award of an OBE. It is certainly well deserved. David began working as a volunteer project manager in south west Rwanda in 2004. He became the CEO of Rwanda Aid in 2008. Since then he has dedicated most of his time to the creation of projects in Rwanda that assist the most needy and vulnerable people. David has helped to build a committed and enthusiastic team of Rwanda staff who now manage the projects and are becoming increasingly independent. The emphasis now is on vocational training and the encouragement of co-operatives to improve income generation and community empowerment.
“This OBE is a tremendous recognition and endorsement of the work to which so many people have contributed - David Chaplin has been the catalyst for the involvement of the trustees, Rwandan staff, UK managers and donors.” To find out more about Rwanda Aid, visit www.rwanda-aid.org