Classic Engines, Modern Fuel – Helping Children in Tanzania

When I was writing my book, Classic Engines, Modern Fuel, I realised how privileged I had been in having a good education. Although I trained as a physicist, the way I had been taught gave me the skills to run the XPAG tests at Manchester University. It was this realisation that made me want to use the royalties from the book sales to help with children’s education to give them the best possible start in life.

This was my next project. One lady in particular has made everything possible. I cannot thank Rachel enough. She is a carer, working in the UK and is from Kideleko in Tanzania. She still has contacts and family there.

Rachel made contact through her family with the teachers in the village to find out what the children needed. It was humbling to be told; pencils, pens, rubbers, pencil sharpeners and books to write in. They had to buy these themselves and many families could not afford them.

Rachel sent me pictures of the children, including one showing exercise books lying on the ground.  I realised, even if we sent what they asked for, the children would have nowhere to put them. They would also need book bags.

Rachel told me there were two schools with about 850 infant children. This is when the scale of the project hit me. Before she retired, my wife was a head teacher at an Infant school and had contacts with educational suppliers. They were willing to help. My budget was sufficient to buy the pencils, pens, etc. Unfortunately, the bags at £6.00 each would have been far too expensive; unless a lot of people had bought my book.

The answer was to get the bags made in Tanzania. For this to happen, a book bag was designed by one of my friends and we arranged for Rachel’s family to buy two sewing machines in Tanzania. Yes, these are new machines (pictured below) and no, they are not electrically operated. Treadle machines are a lot more reliable when the electricity supply may go off! Over Christmas, Rachel went back to Tanzania, purchased the material in Dar es Salaam and arranged for the 850 book bags to be made.

As for the goods from England, these proved to be amazingly heavy. The problem was how to ship them to Tanzania. Rachel helped again. She put me in touch with KC Global Links Ltd, a shipping agent, who kindly agreed to send everything at no cost. All we had to do was to take everything to Tilbury docks. Quite an experience dodging the lorries and containers. After two months at sea, all arrived safely in Dar es Salaam in time for Rachel to collect them. (pictured below: goods on arrival in Tanzania).

The “great handout” happened at the start of January when the children went back to school.

It is even more humbling to see the effort taken by Rachel, the education authority, teachers and helpers. A major event, speeches, rows of people giving out the bags, pencils, etc. and lines of children collecting their things. The photographs give some idea of the scale.

If you have bought a copy of Classic Engines, Modern Fuel ( you have directly contributed to these children’s education. Thank you.

What about the next project? There are two more schools in the area. Hopefully more book sales will provide the funds. Alternatively, if you want to help, you can make a contribution using PayPal (

Paul Ireland

Five pictures of the “great handout”.

Who knows how they will develop over the coming years? Could there be a doctor, a scientist, an engineer, amongst them? One thing is certain, they now have the “tools” to help with their education ….. “tools”, which most of us take for granted.