With sadness we report the death of Professor Glyn O. Phillips, who was instrumental in helping give direction to Dolen Cymru in the early days. With his support Dolen established our first office in the International Centre at NEWI, Wrexham in 1986.
It is sad to note the departure of one of Dolen Cymru’s earliest and most consistent friends, Professor Glyn O. Phillips. Glyn was one of that small group of people responsible for transforming that ambition for Wales to see the world through its own eyes into being and to do so, specifically, by establishing a connection with another nation, far from Wales, on the same pattern as the inter-city relationships seen after the second world war.
An international mentality was second nature to Glyn. Under his leadership as Principal, the North-East Wales Institute had developed relationships and partnerships with a number of overseas establishments, from Sudan and Oman to Palestine and the United States and his scientific activities - his own academic field - ranged even wider.
Because of his support, it was not surprising that it was in the Institute’s International Centre in Wrexham that the meeting was held which led to Lesotho being proposed as partner and the decision made that a body be set up to organise the relationship and friendship with that nation, a suggestion that was warmly welcomed by them. And so Dolen Cymru came into being.
But it was not only in the initial period that Glyn’s support was felt. He was always ready to encourage his staff to contribute to the preparation and development work and it was there, in the Institute’s International Centre, that Dolen Cymru’s first headquarters was established, with an individual appointed to lead the work.
After retirement, Glyn agreed to continue as Consultant and, with his experience of negotiating agreements with funding bodies and his instinct about what would work and what not, his advice was always valuable. With his death Dolen Cymru has lost one of its earliest pioneers and one of its most important supporters.
Geraint O. Thomas
Dolen in conjunction with volunteers from the Betsi Quthing Partnership has been successful in gaining two grants for a project with the Family Medicine Speciality Training Program in Leribe. The FMSTP is the only postgraduate training for doctors in Lesotho, and currently has 11 senior doctors on it, who are all in leadership positions across 6 Districts.
This project is based on the specific requests from the doctors. It has several elements:
- Provision of some PPE and basic equipment (oximeters/ thermometers) for the 11 Registrars and their facilities
- Staff Wellbeing Service: based on the COVID19 service set up in March in the Best Cadwaladr Health Board by the Clinical Psychology service for NHS staff, which offers one to one and group sessions online/ phone to support frontline staff deal with the personal and professional impact of this challenge
- Educational sessions through distance learning.
- Provision for an in-country co-ordinator for the work based in Leribe.
Dolen has worked closely with the FMSTP over the last few years with volunteers from the Royal College of General Practitioners in Wales delivering mental health gap and palliative care training. The education sessions will build on this work.
Dolen Chair Dr Paul Myres said," We are really pleased to make a difference in this small way to Lesotho's COVID response. With the number of cases being identified increasing daily in Lesotho there is a definite need for more PPE, basic equipment and training.
“Some of the doctors are already feeling very stressed and there is no local support service available so we are really pleased to be able to offer this and to do it remotely" "
The money is from two emergency COVID19 funds set up by the Welsh Government and by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
Moeketsi Majoro has been sworn in as Lesotho's prime minister following the resignation of his embattled predecessor, Thomas Thabane.
Thabane's decision to step down on Tuesday came amid mounting pressure over a case in which he and his current wife are suspected of involvement in the 2017 murder of his estranged wife. They both deny this.
A tribute to Ifanwy Williams by Carl Clowes
It was with great sadness that we heard of the death of Ifanwy Williams, one of Dolen Cymru’s original trustees, at 98.
Although she was born of a generation of Liverpool Welsh, she spent most of her life in Wales and her heart was very firmly in the Porthmadog area. Having lost her husband at a very young age she subsequently lived by herself until the end of her days and, for those of us who had the pleasure of knowing her, she represented a truly unique personality. Her social circle knew no bounds and, even in the last days of her life she had attended a Plaid Cymru St David’s day dinner and a service at her local chapel. My first recollection of Ifanwy was as a social worker during my early days of medical practice in Llŷn but it was her involvement with Dolen Cymru that firmly implanted her in my mind.
Me Lineo Phachaka, Dolen’s first Organiser in Lesotho, with Ifanwy Williams at Castell Deudraeth, June 2018
As a prominent member of Merched y Wawr and Chair of its Disability Committee, Ifanwy paved the way for the highly successful link between the Lesotho Homemaker’s Association and Merched y Wawr. Ifanwy, together with ‘Malikeleli [Mali] Mokokoane, President of the Homemakers, was prominent in the training and exchanges between the societies on more than one occasion.
Ifanwy was very much a ‘people’s person’ - on the one hand I recall her addressing a workshop in Lesotho on ‘The place of development in in a democratic world’ and the next day on her knees on the floor playing the drums with the Queen’s Dancers of Lesotho. Others will refer to Ifanwy’s many other interests - as a peace campaigner, her work with Cymdeithas y Cymod [Fellowship of Reconciliation] and a campaigner against nuclear weapons and nuclear power. At the same time , her interest in life generally was infectious - always enquiring about the family and anything that might be promoting the interests of Wales! A rounded personality.
More than anything she had style - she often quoted her husband – “if you can’t offer a feast, give them style”. She had the measure of it right until the very end.
In the last week of her life, she highlighted a piece in the Western Mail ‘ How Nature helped conquer Capitalism’. Time will tell but the irony was she became the first victim of coronavirus Covid-19 to die in Gwynedd. It was an honour to be able to call her a friend.
This project works with teachers, learners and the local community in Thaba Tseka to teach the importance of hand-washing and how to build tippy taps and set up rainwater harvesting.
This was important before the coronavirus pandemic but has now come into its own. Our partners the Lesotho Red Cross Society have been travelling to villages, correctional units and shops to explain what the virus is and how they can help prevent it spreading. This is crucial even though there are no reported cases yet in Lesotho.
We are pleased that DFID has agreed for our programme to be repurposed for this COVID response. This has meant that the work on hand-washing has spread further than originally intended.
Thanks also to the Waterloo Foundation which has donated towards this response.