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WCIA’s Founding Years: A proud legacy in Development Education and Fundraising

Founding WCIA Director Bill Davies (RH) – who passed away in February 2021 – with then Foreign Secretary Sir David Owen at the Temple of Peace in 1977.

‘Hidden Histories’ Feature researched and curated by Iman Hamizan, on Student Placement via GO Wales from Aberystwyth University’s Dept of International Politics.

WCIA celebrates its 50th Birthday in 2023. As we approach this significant milestone, our volunteer placements have been exploring and digitising Archive Records from WCIA’s ‘Founding Years’, 1973 to 1988. Iman Hamizan from Aberystwyth shares his impressions of projects and campaigns from this seminal era.

The Welsh Centre for International Affairs has become a coordinating and administrative centre for international campaigns in Wales, forging practical links to various international organisations, hosting Standing Conferences for local authorities and national institutions, and holding annual anniversary Meetings addressed by leading statesmen. Since its founding in 1973, the WCIA has become an important channel to bring the voices of Welsh people onto the international stage in promoting peace, international development, and cooperation through influencing public opinion and government policy.

CEWC Cymru

WCIA’s education arm, CEWC-Cymru, was aimed at increasing and encouraging awareness of world affairs and global citizenship amongst schoolchildren, teachers, youth groups, colleges and industrial apprentices throughout Wales. They established a Development Resource Centre at the Temple of Peace, where it is based, to cater for the demand for the Centre’s educational materials. A syllabus on World Development Education, the first of its kind in the UK, was passed by the Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC) in 1982 and was initially taken by lower sixth form pupils for one year looking at the interdependence of global society. A course bibliography was prepared by the Welsh Centre Fellow, Mrs Alison Heard, and the Resource Centre with a handbook praised by the Minister for Overseas Development, Assistant Examinations Secretary and Chief Examiner of ‘AO’ Level Peter Davies. Mrs Heard was appointed at the University College, Cardiff, in the Department of Education, where she has helped to raise funds and pool academic expertise. Schools in Wales had entered 273 pupils for the A/O World Development exam by 1983, like in Denbigh, Pembroke, Newport, Gwent, Gwynedd, Mid Glamorgan, South Glamorgan, West Glamorgan. The syllabus has attracted interest from the rest of the UK and from abroad, from as far as Canada, India, Mauritius, Mexico, the Republic of Ireland and Turkey.

Freedom from Hunger Campaign

The United Kingdom Freedom From Hunger Campaign (FFHC) was an information and education initiative designed to raise awareness of the problem of hunger and malnutrition. In 1974, FFHC moved its headquarters from London to the Temple of Peace in Cardiff. They have helped to develop the work of CEWC-Cymru and fund the Welsh Centre Fellow in Development Studies in Cardiff. Since its inception, the total amount raised by the FFHC Welsh Committee has approached £600,000. The Ladies Committee have been influential under the Chairmanship of Mrs J.T. Morgan, who has raised £30,000 since its inception in 1972. Projects include rural health and development services in India; crop protection education in Tanzania; support self-help women’s groups in Kenya’s Kabete and Mdudundune for goat-rearing projects. Its most important project was raising £3100 to support a UNICEF Project in Senegal for the provision of services for mothers and children in rural communities, establishing maternity centres, village pharmacies, training of women nutrition workers, provisions of pumps for drinking water and irrigation, development of small gardening projects and supply of building materials for community centres.

Supporting Global Initiatives

The WCIA was responsible for UN-led international campaigns within Wales. The International Year of the Child 1979 (IYC) saw the WCIA focus its efforts to promote fundraising initiatives and public awareness around problems facing children all over the world through education programmes.  It aims to deepen understanding of the problems of social and economic development facing countries of the ‘Third World’. Local Education Authorities in Wales raised £50,000 and schools contributed £13,414 for the work of UNICEF in Lesotho. The biennial fairs held in Cardiff on behalf of the FFHC raised £4678.

The UN International Year of Disabled People 1981 (IYDP) was a world plan of action to help 500 million disabled people in the world. The Welsh Centre was asked to coordinate a fund-raising campaign in Wales for the ‘Silent Emergency’ in Sudan, where 7.5 million children do not make it past their first birthday in one of the poorest countries in the world. The IYDP Sudan UNICEF appeal launched in schools as a CEWC effort fundraising target set at £15,000. IYDP Campaign schools contributed £30,000 to the WCIA’s IYDP Sudan campaign. WCIA raised £120,000 for UNICEF for the International Year of the Child 1979 and International Year of Disabled People 1981 as well as providing headquarters for the UK Freedom From Hunger Campaign.

The Welsh Centre UNICEF Award Scheme raised awareness on the East African and Sahelian relief operation in response to the horrors of the African Famine. £32,000 in fundraising for Ethiopia was done through the Principality, involving schools, voluntary organisations, church groups and local authorities. It was used to help provide water supplies and essential drugs.  £4000 is being fundraised in aid of a UNICEF project to supply wells for Sudan as part of a large rural water supply scheme in the South Kordofan area.

A joint venture between UNICEF and Band-Aid for the funding of long-term development projects in Africa saw an estimated £500,000 raised in the Principality, with £70,000 forwarded through the Welsh Centre. It took on the role of promoting and coordinating Sport Aid, assisting the Sports Council of Wales while also acting as one of the organisers for the Cardiff Race Against Time and successful sales of the ‘Run the World’ tee-shirts.

Reflections today

The WCIA’s story has always promoted peaceful, beneficial and sustainable development abroad which is connected to how Welsh citizens think about our increasingly interdependent world through nationwide education initiatives and fundraising campaigns for the FFHC or UNICEF.

Archive Resources: the WCIA ‘Founding Years’:

Feature curated by Iman Hamizan on placement from Aberystwyth University, May 2021