Winners Announced: 2020 Calendar Photo Competition! Published: 29 Jul 2019

We are delighted to announce the winners of our photo competition! Watch this space for sales of our 2020 Calendar featuring the winning entries! 

'Nora and Dora: The girls were excited about getting a new home built by the team.’ 

Submitted by: Sandra - Tanzania Building Volunteer

Submitted by: Roslyn - Berwickshire High 

‘We were told the story of how Jacob was treated for a snake bite by a team on the Amazon Hope. We then had the privilege of meeting him at the boys' home. A happy, healthy boy.’

Sandra - Kincorth & Cove Church Volunteer

Submitted by: Roslyn - Berwickshire High 

Submitted by: Mayfield Dental

Submitted by: Mayfield Dental 

Submitted by: Laurie - Forth Hope Volunteer

'We had the most amazing time In Tanzania, teamwork was very much a part of the journey!’ 

Photo submitted by: Nicola - Berwickshire High

Submitted by: Nicola -  Berwickshire High

‘We met this friendly group of Maasai whilst travelling in Tanzania near the Ngorongoro Crater conservation area. Although we the Maasai are mainly on the mainland we did see a few on the islands who came for medical assistance and attended our health education talks.’ 

Submitted by: Helen - Jubilee Hope Volunteer

‘This photograph shows a health education talk aboard Amazon Hope. Gaining trust, connecting with people and sharing medical knowledge is a real privilege and an important part of the Vine Trust trips to the remote villages in the Amazon rain forest. ‘

Submitted by: Helen - Amazon Hope Volunteer

'It takes a village to raise a child'

Submitted by: Ellie - Jubilee Hope Volunteer

Submitted by: Laurie - Forth Hope Volunteer

‘The reason I love this photo so much is because every time we would play with bubbles with the children, we would just see them in pure, simple joy.’

Submitted by: Katie Rose- Earlston High 

Celebrating 1000 School Volunteers! Published: 23 Jul 2019

A big thank you to all 158 of our summer school volunteers who have supported our building projects in Tanzania and Peru over the past three months!

Amongst them, we're delighted to have marked the milestone of 1000th Vine Trust School Volunteer and we look forward to connecting more people and changing lives!

If your school are interested in visiting our projects in Tanzania, head over to our School Expeditions page for more information. 

Welcome to: Sinéad Conway! Published: 18 Jul 2019

We are excited to welcome Sinéad Conway to Vine Trust as our new Programme Coordinator.

Sinéad has previously completed a masters in International Development and spent some research time in Tanzania, so will feel right at home with our volunteering expeditions.

After a busy summer in Tanzania with our school teams, Sinead now joins the team on the Vine Trust barge. As part of the team coordinating our building and school expeditions, she will be ensuring a safe and first rate experience for all our volunteers!

We are delighted to welcome Sinéad to the Vine Trust family!

New Partnership to See Safer Water Provision on Lake Victoria Islands Published: 16 Jul 2019

A new partnership is set to address water-related health concerns in the island communities of Lake Victoria. The year-long pilot project will be undertaken by Signpost International, African Inland Church Tanzania, and Vine Trust.

For most people on the islands, water for drinking, cooking and cleaning is only accessible from the heavily contaminated lake water. Though there is knowledge of waterborne illnesses, without the resources to treat the water, community members are often left with little option but to use it. As a result, there is a high prevalence of waterborne illness recorded as a direct consumption of contaminated water sources.

The pilot project, led by Dundee-based organisation Signpost International, has emerged from the initial partnership between Vine Trust and the African Inland Church Tanzania (AICT), who provide healthcare services via the medical vessel Jubilee Hope to the remote island communities.

Project partners AICT will implement the provision of water-treatment solutions to 65 island households alongside the development of education and awareness raising programmes. The partnership hopes to see a strengthened approach to improving water, sanitation and hygiene in the households of the lake islands.

Vine Trust are delighted to support this project to complement the existing Jubilee Hope programme operating on the islands of Lake Victoria, Tanzania.

Announcing the Gathering 2019! Published: 03 Jul 2019

Join us for our annual gathering to be part of a global community 'Connecting People to Change Lives'.

Through a full conference programme including speakers, energising discussion and ideas sharing, we will celebrate the achievements of the year and look forward to lift-off action on our new 2020s vision. You won't want to miss it.


Conference streams for medical, building & school volunteers

Engaging future focused discussions • Refreshments and lunch

Talks from our in-country partners • Evening dinner reception

Overnight accommodation and breakfast included


We'll send you all the latest annoucements about the Gathering, including booking details, programme schedules and more. Interested? Click here to register your interest. 

School Volunteers Blog Published: 10 Jun 2019

We have a busy summer coming up, with over 140 school volunteers heading out to our building projects. During their two week expeditions, they'll be helping to support the building of homes for some of the most vulnerable members of the communities we work with. 

They'll become global citizens and make a practical difference to the lives of marginalised children and families. Building a house does not just provide a safe shelter, but an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and provide a place to call home. 

We'll be sharing all their updates during their expeditions, so head over to our blogs to read more! 

Falkirk Trinity Church - Kazunzu Expedition Blog Published: 31 May 2019

Find out all about our teams heading out to Tanzania and Peru via our Blogs.

Below find an update from our pioneer team to our new project at Kazunzu, Village of Hope in Tanzania. 

Tuesday 28th May

After three flights, a ferry, and two buses, we arrived at Sengerema where we are staying. Our first impressions - somewhat chaotic at the airport; busy; warm; friendly; strange geological rock formations which were amazing plus the land is very green. We are all getting used to either cold showers or scalding hot; some even have boutique toilet facilities know within the group as either a hot or a cold drop!

Wednesday 29th May

The people have given us a very warm welcome especially the children who have followed some members of the party, no names, like The Pied Piper! First day on site was today  where we received the formal welcome with lots of singing and dancing which was fabulous.

We were welcomed by representatives from the local ward and Executive officers from Kazunza local government. Importantly there were senior representatives from the African Inland Church of Tanzania, who are the key partner with the Vine Trust on this project.

Bishop Dr Peter Kitula led short service of dedication for this project. Iain presented a commemorative plaque and plan of the site which will be mounted on a cairn on a hillside overlooking the site. The Falkirk group then said the Lord’s Prayer and sang “Amen Siakadumisa”.  This was completed by a procession down to the first house site where the symbolic foundation stones were laid. This was a longish process but valuable-we are learning to adopt Tanzanian “Pole Pole” time, this means slowly slowly.

With the help of a lot of children we carried buckets of water from the reservoir in a human chain to the first two houses, although hard work there was lots of laughter and sweat.

Continuing reading the Falkirk Trinity Church story over on our blog page...

Jubilee Hope 2020 Published: 20 May 2019

We are delighted to announce that our 2020 Jubilee Hope expeditions are now live for application.

Want to join us on board in 2020?

To apply:

2020 NOW OPEN!!! Published: 13 May 2019

We are delighted to announce that the Amazon Hope programme 2020 expeditions are now open for application.

Will you join us in 2020??

Apply here:

HRH The Princess Royal Visits Vine Trust Published: 01 May 2019

We were delighted to welcome our Patron, HRH The Princess Royal on board the Vine Trust Barge at the end of April to learn more about our upcoming projects. Our Board Chair Alec Carstairs greeted HRH on arrival. 



The visit included viewing of a new display designed by our Communications Officer Joanna MacQueen (pictured below). The exhibition presents the story of Vine Trust, including developments of our latest building project, Kazunzu Village of Hope. 


We were delighted to have hosted this visit during a key time of project development. Since joining us as Patron in 2009, HRH has shown us invaluable support as we carry out our work in Peru and Tanzania. 

Kazunzu: Village of Hope Published: 23 Apr 2019

This year we are launching the largest construction project to be undertaken yet by Vine Trust: Kazunzu Village of Hope, on the shores of Lake Victoria. This self-sustaining village will offer a safe home to orphans and widows from the lake islands, as well as education and vocational training opportunities and a health care hub for inhabitants of the village and the local communities on the peripheries of the village. In later phases of construction, we hope to see a jetty where our medical vessel Jubilee Hope can dock to allow its medical team to visit the health hub, creating a place-based approach across our medical and construction programmes.

The first volunteer team to embark on this incredible journey with Vine Trust will be a group of 12 from Falkirk Trinity Church. In May they will travel to Kazunzu for 2 weeks to be involved in the construction of the initial two homes in the village; the homes will be built in clusters of 4, each with their own shamba, or cottage garden area. While there, the team will also be able to witness the beginning of construction of the accommodation unit for the vocational training centre; this accommodation will allow students to travel from across the country to attend classes.

The village will provide a new start in life for the most vulnerable orphans on the islands of Lake Victoria. With the highest instance of HIV/AIDS in the country, many orphans are left with no parents and no immediate family to care for them. Working closely with our local in-country partners and regional government, we will ensure that the children living at Kazunzu are given the secure family setting that they currently lack.

Our vision for the village is a centre of excellence, which provides a full cycle of support to the children living there, furnishing them with the learning and skills which they can use to influence and develop wider communities in the future.

Healthcare Via Boat: A Week Aboard the Jubilee Hope Published: 10 Apr 2019

Benet Reid is a post-doctoral social scientist and teacher. His research work is concerned with knowledge co-production and practice in healthcare, health and illness inequalities, health practices in different cultures, and creative practices for health. He has worked with Vine Trust since 2017, and is soon to begin work on a multi-disciplinary project to research schistosomiasis around Lake Victoria. As a volunteer, Benet shared his experience of visiting our Tanzanian vessel...

In autumn 2018 I was privileged to spend a week aboard the Jubilee Hope as a participant observer. I had never been to Africa before, and hope I will have more chances to go. Seeing how people live around Lake Victoria is one of the most enriching experiences anybody from Europe could have.

Knowing about global illness inequality and extreme poverty is different from seeing and feeling it around you. People on the islands have every need for healthcare, but no means of getting it until the medical ship arrives nearby. They spontaneously form neat queues to be registered for the ‘Mzungu’ boat, and once aboard, wait patiently to see a Tanzanian doctor, or see one of the volunteer doctors (with translator assistance).

Even in illness, the people there are sparkling with rich life. Direct eye contact is thought to be aggressive, and cameras are not welcome so I drank everything in with my eyes and ears, while trying not to be too invasive. Being out of place is an unusual sensation for a middle-aged white man, and indeed after a life of electrical appliances and full nourishment, and never having gone a day without clean water to drink, I felt quite absurd: but more than ever eager to help, in whatever small way.

Volunteer clinicians have to learn quickly about various unfamiliar afflictions, and adopt a different style of practice, much more reliant on quick diagnostic laboratory tests. Those on my trip clearly loved this work, and discussed it keenly with their counterparts in the crew. In health volunteering there are anxieties over negotiating cultural boundaries, but being all on the same ship necessitates collaborative working from the start.

Many of the crew are local to these islands. Seeing how vigorously they work, and hearing them speak about it, I gather just how much it means to them to be able to deliver treatments to this marginalised population without worrying about who can or cannot pay. On my final day I wrote lab records for well over 250 people: an exhausting work-rate for the crew, but full of reward.

The volunteers are crucial for how the ship is regarded locally, as they symbolise resources, powerful knowledge and medicine that works. For volunteers, any interaction with the Tanzanians, especially their wonderful children, is a blessing and a delight. I would strongly recommend any prospective volunteer to practice Swahili as much as possible before going. It is the key to connecting with this beautiful place and people.

If you'd like to know about volunteering aboard our medical vessels, have a look at our Medical Expeditions page to find out more. We're looking for doctors, dentists, and nurses to join our two-week teams so get in touch with us today! 

Welcome to: Sheila Renton Published: 04 Apr 2019

We would like to welcome Sheila Renton to Vine Trust as our new Finance Administrator.

Sheila, along with the rest of our finance team will be supporting the ongoing growth of the Trust. Her role includes supporting many of our volunteers in their applications and ensuring a smooth process. 

We are delighted to welcome Sheila to the Vine Trust family!

We also wish to thank Heather Bingham as she departs from Vine Trust following over 4 years of service in this role, and wish her all the best for the future.

A Greater Appreciation for the Little Things Published: 27 Mar 2019

Vine Trust School Expeditions are a unique way for young adults to broaden their perspectives. Our volunteers work alongside local teams to build houses for vulnerable families. This is not only to help these communities towards a brighter future, but also the opportunity for young people to engage as global citizens.

We invited our 2018 school volunteers to tell us more about the impact that their expedition has had six months on from their trip. Their feedback was a great opportunity to hear about their experiences and lessons learned.

A greater appreciation for the little things in life

Of pupils from the schools who responded, over 90% said they appreciated their family more and they had increased confidence in making new friends. It was great to hear how volunteers responded to appreciating the 'little things' in life,

"Seeing how much fun the kids had with a balloon or bubbles really put things into perspective for me, and made me realise that life really isn't about materialistic things"

Our orientations prepare schools for their expeditions by including team-building and cultural awareness. We love to hear how volunteers feel welcomed on their expeditions, leading to over 80% saying they now felt more comfortable interacting with people from different backgrounds,

"The Tanzanian people were so friendly and welcoming, even though they did not know myself or my team at all. I was already comfortable with this but my time in Tanzania made this even easier."

We also asked volunteers about how their expedition affected their future plans and aspirations. Many reported a change in career paths, with more hopes to travel independently and develop global skills.

Global citizens of the future

Our school volunteers are the leaders of the next generation and Vine Trust are acutely aware of the future global challenges that Generation Z will face in their lifetimes.

Over 80% agreed that they now felt part of the world, rather than just living in their own life and over 75% reported a greater interest in global affairs.

We were delighted to hear that because of their volunteering opportunity, 100% of our respondents reported an increased confidence in their ability to achieve things,

"The long days on the worksite were sometimes very hard, but remembering what it was for really kept me going. I feel that I still have this in the back of my mind, and when things get tough I know that it will always be of benefit."

We also saw our volunteers become more considerate in their work, lending a hand when others needed help,

"Being part of the team on the worksite I saw that everyone needed support of some kind, if it was a few words of support or even something as small as carrying someone’s water bottle, I felt that it made me more aware of how others were feeling."

Connecting people to change lives

We believe Vine Trust expeditions aren't just about the then and there. Communities and families can work towards a brighter future with the help of our teams. Our volunteers almost always return with a greater appreciation for life, a sense of inspiration and a stronger ambition to change even more lives, ultimately impacting on local communities back in the UK.

If you think your local school or community group would like the opportunity to work towards becoming global citizens, start asking about our building programme by contacting:

Vine Trust Medical Ship to Help Millions Published: 19 Mar 2019

A ship that previously belonged to Serco is to become the latest medical vessel for Edinburgh-based charity, Vine Trust, and is expected to deliver over 2 million medical consultations in its lifetime. Vine Trust, who operate in Peru and Tanzania, anticipate the ship’s redesign to be completed and ready for deployment into overseas work over the course of the next 12-18 months. 

The 150-tonne vessel, formerly known as the SD Melton, will have medical consultation rooms, a full dental clinic, operating room, pharmacy and laboratory on board. The ship will also accommodate a medical team, including short-term volunteers from the Vine Trust.

The use of a medical ship provides a unique and innovative approach to strengthening health systems through the provision of primary healthcare services to isolated communities. Taking into account that many remote communities cannot travel to their nearest hospital, the ship will provide a safe and hygienic facility which can be accessed easily by patients throughout the year.

Having been involved with the Vine Trust since 2001, Serco’s Maritime Services business in Scotland has provided secure berthing facilities and engineering support at their Greenock base and volunteer crew for the long delivery voyages to Mombasa, Kenya and Iquitos, Peru. 

Rev. Willie McPherson, Vine Trust chief executive, said:

"We are grateful for the vital support of Serco and for the opportunity that the acquisition of this vessel gives us going forward to change lives.”

“Over the coming months, plans are being prepared and we look forward to beginning the conversion of the vessel during the course of 2019.”

Phil Ireland, Serco Maritime Services Director, Operations & Growth said:

“We are delighted to transfer ownership of the former SD Melton to the Vine Trust in continuation of our long commitment to supporting a great charity whose vessels deliver invaluable medical care to remote communities. Some of our team have supported the Vine Trust throughout since 2001 and we are now actively encouraging the next generation, from apprentices to qualified seafarers and shore side staff, to volunteer.”

New Chair of the Vine Trust Board Published: 12 Mar 2019

It is our great privilege to congratulate The Very Rev Albert Bogle at the end of his service as Chairman of the Vine Trust Board. Albert has provided invaluable direction and vision to Vine Trust over the course of 34 years and we wish him well as he continues with us as Founder and Chaplain to the Board.

We now welcome Mr Alec Carstairs as the new Chair of the Board. Supporting Vine Trust since 2003, Alec has served as a trustee, volunteered and visited our projects, and previously convened the finance committee. We look forward to Alec’s leadership as we continue into the year.

We also welcome two new members to the Board, Fiona Smith and Peter Hall. To find out more about all our trustees, read more on our Vine Trust Board page.

2020 Young Adults Expedition Published: 27 Feb 2019

This year, Vine Trust will celebrate our 1000th school expedition volunteer to work alongside our in-country partners to empower vulnerable local communities.

Our Expeditions Team were keen to celebrate our progress in Peru & Tanzania through the achievements and support of our volunteers. Having spoken to our returned school volunteers from 2018, many of them told us that they would love the opportunity to return on a Vine Trust expedition.

Taking on this feedback, we are excited to welcome our returned volunteers to apply for our 2020 Young Adults Expedition to Moshi! Aimed at returned school volunteers and their friends, the summer 2020 trip is an opportunity for like-minded young adults between the ages of 18 - 25 to be part of a Vine Trust Expedition designed especially for them.

We have loved hearing from our 2020 Young Adult applicants on their reasons for returning with Vine Trust:

“I'm applying because my first experience in Tanzania has had such a huge impact on my life and after what we managed to achieve last time I would like to go and help more families”

“The first time I went, I loved being able to work closely with the community and families and experience first-hand the benefits of the work the Vine Trust does. The opportunity to physical help has had a strong effect on me and I am very keen to revisit the area and continue to support the work of the Vine Trust.”

“I'm applying because I never wanted to come home from my previous volunteer expedition in Tanzania and was 100% certain that I would return before I was even home from it.”

“I'm applying because the trip I was just on in Tanzania was an experience I will never forget and the work we did for the families really did change their lives and I'm looking forward to be able to do that again. After coming back from my previous trip to Tanzania I realised how much our help was appreciated by everyone out there and how much small gestures really mean to them. The two weeks I was in Tanzania I learnt so much about the culture, country and just a completely different way of life, the experience really just changed me as a person and has made me appreciate things a lot more and allowed me to have a different outlook on life and I would love to go back.”

If you are a returned Vine Trust school volunteer and would like to find out more about our incredible 2020 Young Adults expedition, please email us at

The Journey to Success International Development Career Pathway Published: 20 Feb 2019

Vine Trust are very excited to be launching a new partnership with The Robertson Trust.

The Robertson Trust is the largest independent grant-making Trust in Scotland. Their mission is to improve lives and realise the potential of people & communities in Scotland. Since 1992 The Trust has identified and assisted over 1000 young Scots who have the ability, but not necessarily the means, to receive the most out of a university education.

In 2017, 20 Robertson Trust Scholars- young adults studying at various universities throughout Scotland- travelled to Tanzania on a Vine Trust Home-Building Expedition. The impact of the visit was felt both in Tanzania and on their return home. As one member of the team commented,

“The experience was most humbling; my perception of what is really important in life has completely changed. I now have a bigger appreciation for the smaller things in life.”

Building on this experience, we are excited to announce the launch of a new collaborative project with the Robertson Trust. 'The Journey to Success International Development Career Pathway' offers scholars the opportunity to develop their skills and experience alongside an organisation that works in their area of interest.

Vine Trust will welcome two Robertson Trust Scholars with an interest in international development, volunteering or the third sector. The pathway will span over 3 years during which the scholars take part in a Vine Trust Building Expedition. The programme will also provide an array of activities for scholars to get involved with based on their current skills, knowledge and experience, and that which they wish to develop.

Vine Trust look forward to working closely with The Robertson Trust and are thrilled to be able to support scholars in their journey.

How Medical Volunteering Makes Friendships for Life Published: 13 Feb 2019

Vine Trust volunteers have the exciting chance to be a part of our medical work in Peru and Tanzania. Nurse Theresa Torrance joined one of our teams in Peru and shared her experience of this life-changing opportunity with us.

Vine Trust teams are often multinational, with volunteers coming from all across the globe. Theresa’s team was no different,

‘Our team comprised of a Canadian dentist, dental nurse, and a dental assistant. Also joining us was the British medical team – two doctors, one final year medical student, one pharmacist and one nurse. Our initial team meeting in Iquitos provided us all with an incredible bond from the start. It was going to be a good trip.’

The volunteer teams would be working on board the Vine Trust medical ship, reaching remote communities along the Amazon river. The volunteer teams work alongside an existing Peruvian medical, dental and nursing team. For local villagers, healthcare and transport to the nearest hospital can often be difficult and expensive. The ship’s medical teams and volunteers provide crucial access to healthcare which they otherwise would not receive.

During their time aboard the boat, the team set to work,

“Ten days on a boat on the Amazon river in 35° temperatures brings out the true spirit and strength of individuals. We worked long days alongside out Peruvian colleagues often seeing more than 100-200 patients per day. Infections, bites, coughs and colds were all part of our daily workload. Minor surgeries, dental work, ultrasounds, lab tests, and dispensing medication were often performed on board, with the promotion of health advice too. The list IS endless, and every trip is different.”

Though the work days were long, Theresa’s team did manage to fit in some rest with their Peruvian colleagues,

“There was downtime chatting, card games, dancing, singing and lots of laughter. We had bonded as a team both volunteer and Peruvian.”

Back home, the team kept in touch, having bonded over a unique adventure. The experience offered a unique opportunity to make friends and the team was keen to do even more together,

Volunteering with The Vine trust is an amazing, worthwhile, unique experience. It provided some of our most positive life experiences but it is not without its challenges. It does provide the most wonderful chance to meet, experience and make friends with some of the most amazing people who volunteer and share this experience with you. Now our sights are set on further volunteer work with Vine Trust in Tanzania later this year. Without doubt, we recommended Vine Trust volunteering at least once in your life!”

To find out more about our medical trips here or get in touch about volunteering at today. 


Making Silly Faces: Building Relationships in Kazunzu Published: 08 Feb 2019

Vine Trust's Louise and Martin headed out to Tanzania this week to visit our latest construction project, Kazunzu Village of Hope.

Louise and Martin spent time with Programme Director Samuel Limbe at the 53-acre site to carry out final health & safety and due diligence checks in anticipation of our volunteers’ arrival in May. Our twelve volunteers from Falkirk Trinity Church will be the first to support the construction of two homes in the village. These will provide a stable family environment for widows and orphans from the local island and lake shore communities.

The trio also met with Sengerema District Commissioner Emanuel Kipole to discuss the local government’s support of the project. The Honourable District Commissioner expressed his warm welcome to our volunteer teams, whose support will bring benefits to the local and wider communities.

Later in the week, Pastor Joshua, from the local African Inland Church parish in Sengerema, invited Louise and Martin to visit the morning lessons held at his church. Up to 200 children aged between 3 and 6 years old attend weekday morning lessons led by 4 teachers.

The classes ranged from teaching English to learning about different parts of the body. Many of the children are orphans or live in vulnerable family situations. Often their only meal of the day can be porridge snacks received at the church. Louise and Martin were able to spend time with the children, pulling silly faces and inciting lots of laughter!

It won't be long until Louise returns to Sengerema with our May volunteers!

Vine Trust will be holding a Kazunzu Information Open Day on Saturday 6th of April. Come along to the Vine Trust barge to find out how you can get involved with this exciting new project.

Forth Hope on Film Published: 04 Feb 2019

We are proud to share the work of the Forth Hope, our medical ship which has been the focus of a short documentary broadcast in Peru. 

The Other Route traveled to Iquitos to embark on the Vine Trust's floating clinic with a crew of adventurous doctors who heal and care for more than 100,000 inhabitants of communities accessible only by waterway.

Although most of the video is in Spanish, some interviews with VT volunteers are in English. Sit back and enjoy some incredible images of the work carried out on this incredible ship. 

Progress in Kazunzu Village of Hope Published: 31 Jan 2019

Expeditions and Education Manager Louise Campbell and Chief Operating Officer Martin Holt are in Sengerema, Tanzania this week. Their visit will finalise plans for our exciting new construction project, Kazunzu Village of Hope, before the arrival of our first volunteer team in May.

Alongside Programme Director Samuel Limbe, Louise and Martin met with town planner Manace to discuss the layout of the village. Kazunzu Village of Hope will be constructed on a piece of land to the West of Mwanza, on the shore of Lake Victoria in Tanzania. The village will consist of clusters of individual homes, housing up to six orphans and a ‘mama’ figure, providing a stable family environment for them to grow in. Each cluster will share a small ‘shamba’, or cottage garden, to grow crops for their own consumption and the possibility of selling on excess produce they don’t eat.

You can be part of this incredible journey to empower orphans and widows from the shores and islands of Lake Victoria. Get in touch with Louise to find out more today. 



HRH The Princess Royal Launches The Gathering Published: 17 Dec 2018

At Vine Trust, our volunteers and supporters have been central to our previous successes and essential to our future plans and developments. We have been keen to create a Vine Trust Community which will allow us to acknowledge and celebrate past achievements and enthuse and embrace future plans and developments. To help generate such a community, the annual Gathering was launched by HRH The Princess Royal, Patron Vine Trust on Friday 23rd November.

The inaugural Gathering took place at the MacDonald Houstoun House Hotel, Uphall, West Lothian.  The evening was enjoyed by 140 people with a drinks reception and dinner. The event was opened by the Very Rev Albert Bogle who formally launched The Gathering. Following dinner, there was video presentation and HRH The Princess Royal spoke about the work of the Trust and the importance of volunteering.

To celebrate the fantastic efforts of our volunteers and our VT community, Martin Holt (Chief Operating Officer) introduced a few awards and invited HRH The Princess Royal to present them.  The awards all demonstrate the achievements not just of 2018, but of sustained delivery over a number of years:


Amazon Hope 2 set sail from the Clyde in 2006 and at the end of October this year the 1 million consultation mark was reached. Many people have helped to make this possible.

The “A million Thanks Award” was received by Robert Marshall (Naval Architect) on behalf of all those who have contributed to this wonderful achievement.


To recognise an individual who is the first person to volunteer with each of our medical, school and building programmes. A lady who is a real source of inspiration for us as a volunteering charity.

The “Hat Trick Award” was presented to Dawn Gilles. 


In 2019 we will pass the milestone of 1,000 school pupils and teachers volunteering with the Vine Trust.  To celebrate the fabulous contribution young people have made as volunteers:

The “Grand Achievement Award – 100th School Pupil” was received by pupils of Culloden Academy, Inverness on behalf of all the young people.


2018 has been a record year for medical programme with 171 medical volunteer trips being made. Nine medical volunteers took part in both our Amazon Hope and Jubilee Hope Programmes during 2018. 4 of those 9 were present at the Gathering.


Murray Hudson, Carolyn Freeman, Ruby Repper and Jim Repper received the “Double Award”.


Our final award, which celebrates the completion of 100 homes built in the Moshi area. With many volunteers involved over the last 6 years – we decided the most appropriate person to receive this award is the leader of our local partner organisation TAWREF (Tanzania Women Research Foundation).

A video was shown of Dafrosa Itemba receiving the "100th Home Award" from Louise Campbell (Programme Manager: Expeditions & Education).


Martin concluded by congratulating all our award recipients and just as importantly everyone in the room who has played a part in making these landmark awards possible. Vine Trust really couldn’t do it without you.


The formal part of the evening was drawn to a close by Willie McPherson (Chief Executive). 


Watch out for news of the 2019 Gathering.




Connections Issue 33 Published: 14 Nov 2018

The lastest issue of Connections is now available to read and download. 

Keep up to date with our medical, home building and school programmes as well as see our 2019 calandar and gift aid cards - excellent Christmas presents. 

Click here to view. 

Supporting the development of local students on Jubilee Hope Published: 15 Oct 2018

The Jubilee Hope programme is delighted to have welcomed 2 medical students from Bugando University (Mwanza), who volunteered as part of the recent visit to the island of Bumbire.

Opportunities to participate in the development and capacity building of local health workers is something that Vine Trust is deeply passionate about and we hope that these students will be the first of many to benefit from working with the Jubilee Hope Medical Programme.

Exciting New Construction Project: Kazunzu Village of Hope Published: 03 Oct 2018

We are excited to announce the launch of the largest building project ever to be undertaken by Vine Trust!

Kazunzu Village of Hope will be a centre of excellence in providing a future, education and training, constructed on a piece of land to the West of Mwanza, on the shore of Lake Victoria in Tanzania. The village will consist of clusters of individual homes, housing up to six orphans and a ‘mama’ figure, providing a stable family environment for them to grow in. Each cluster will share a small ‘shamba’, or cottage garden, to grow crops for their own consumption and the possibility of selling on excess produce they don’t eat.

A vocational training centre will provide hands-on learning opportunities for those in the village and the broader community. Schooling will be provided in later phases for the children living at Kazunzu and the surrounding farms and villages. 

Sustainability will be key to the success of such a programme and we hope to create an array of income opportunities for the villagers. There will be an area of land set aside for farming cash crops, and we are also exploring the possibility of a series of fish ponds where the villagers can farm Tilapia.

The first phase of construction will focus on building the first 15 homes as well as the Vocational Training Centre and addressing some of the infrastructure elements such as water and sanitation.

If you would like to be part of one of the first volunteering teams supporting the development at Kazunuzu, apply for our October 2019 “Introduction To Kazunzu” building expedition for individuals here:

Check out our video for more information:

Project Complete ! Published: 01 Oct 2018

The Rev Sheila Moir and the Parish Churches of Maxton & Mertoun linked with Newtown linked with St Boswells launched a 3 year project in August 2015 to fundraise to build a home in Tanzania. Their project now complete, Martin Holt (Chief Operating Officer, Vine Trust) attended a United Service at St Boswells to give an update of Vine Trust’s work in Tanzania and receive a cheque from Inez McCall (see picture) and to thank Rev Moir and all involved.   

Doors Open 2018 Published: 28 Sep 2018

Vine Trust will be taking part in this year's Edinburgh Doors Open Event.   The Barge will be open to the public from 10am - 4pm on Saturday 29th September, and 1pm - 4pm on Sunday 30th September. Visit us to see our award-winning office & rental space. If you are available to lend our team a hand, come aboard and tell vistors about your experience with Vine Trust!

They’re here!!! Published: 14 Sep 2018

!!!They're here!!!


Our 2019 calendars and notelets are now available to buy, along with our Gift Aid Cards, so head over to the shop to get yours!


Filled with Vine Trust volunteer photos and quotes, these new products not only look fantastic, they are totally unique and even better, support the work of the Trust.


Want to purchase by cheque instead? Just download our printable postal order form at

Happy 1st Birthday Forth Hope Published: 10 Sep 2018

Happy Birthday Forth Hope!

This week we are celebrating Forth Hope being in service on the Amazon for one year. And what a year it has been! She has carried out 117,760 primary healthcare consultations and hosted 111 volunteers on board.
Thank you once again to everyone who has been a part of her epic first year. The first of many, as she continues to bring hope to the Amazon.


Vine Trust Squad Head & Neck Buffs Published: 28 Aug 2018

Now Available – Vine Trust SQUAD Scarf

Looking for a stylish, comfortable head and neck buff to protect you from the sun?
Whether you are on a work site in Moshi constructing homes with our partners, on the Forth Hope on the Peruvian Amazon or in your back garden, a Vine Trust styled buff is a great way to keep cool. Buy direct from the supplier for £15 and £5 of the price of your buff will go towards Vine Trust and our programmes.

Visit VT Squad Buffs  at the Vine Trust Shop on our website.  

2019 Building Expedition Dates Released Published: 16 Aug 2018

We are delighted to announce that the 2019 Building Expedition applications are now open.

All of our building expeditions are suitable for any volunteer aged 18 – 70, but you may find that one of our new trips particularly appeals to you:

April: Spend your Easter break building a home for a vulnerable family with like-minded individuals. You will spend around 10 days on worksites and visiting local cultural places of interest, and an optional safari.

July: Be part of a team of university students building a brighter future. You will spend around 10 days on worksites and visiting local cultural places of interest, and an optional safari.

October: Represent your church alongside members from other congregations to empower a Tanzanian community. You will spend around 10 days on worksites and visiting local cultural places of interest, and an optional safari.

Find out more here:

New Gift Cards Arrive Published: 13 Aug 2018

We are very excited to release our new medical and dental gift aid cards! To celebrate their arrival we have a promotion running for the next month which means you can purchase a Peru or Tanzania set of 3 cards for £30!

Each card features a photograph on the front, on one inner side there is a description of how the card can support Vine Trust's work and also a blank page for your message. These cards make a meaningful and unique alternative gift and additionally spreads the word of how the Trust, our in-country teams and partners and our wonderful volunteers deliver free medical and dental care to some of the most isolated communities in the Peruvian Amazon and Lake Victoria, Tanzania. 

Our colleague Emily, who visited Peru earlier this year, not only skillfully organises the logistics of our medical and dental volunteers' trips (and much more besides), but is also a talented photographer in her spare time! Whilst we love all the photos, we think it is particularly special that all three of Emily's photographs which feature in our Peru set are children that were actually treated by the programme aboard Forth Hope in one day. Thank you Emily! 

To take advantage of our earlybird promotion please head to our online shop here.

Photo Competition! Published: 01 Aug 2018

We are looking for dynamic and colourful pictures which illustrate your Vine Trust volunteering experience. The theme of the competition is ‘My Vine Trust Volunteering Experience’. Please read the below instructions and send your entry(s) to with the subject: Photo Competition. 

Good Luck! 

Entry Requirements

-The competition is open to all Vine Trust volunteers

-The picture may be of volunteering activity or the places and people you connected with.

- No more than five pictures per entrant

- Please include a short quote about why you’ve submitted each photo and which expedition it relates to (e.g., Peru Medical 2017, 'School' Academy Tanzania 2018). This may be because it highlights your favourite activity or location or because it had a life-changing impact.  

- Pictures must be digital and no bigger than 5MB, please email them to with the subject: Photo Competition 

- You must have permission from any other volunteers in your photo(s) and be sensitive to other cultures. If the picture involves any persons under the age of 18, you must obtain the consent of their parent or guardian.

- Entrants agree that by submitting the photo/s they give Vine Trust permission to use their first name, image and expedition description in promotional materials for Vine Trust.

The closing date is Sunday 19th August at midnight. Winners will be announced on our website and contacted on Friday August 24th


We hope that sharing your Vine Trust experience and helping us to raise valuable funds to continue our work is very rewarding for you. We do not offer cash prizes, however;

- If your entry is selected for our 2019 calendar, you will receive a free calendar

- If your entry is selected for our notelets, you will receive a free pack of notelets

A Volunteering Hat-Trick Published: 23 Jul 2018

As volunteering charity, Vine Trust has three types of volunteering opportunity: home building expeditions, school expeditions and medical expeditions. Today, we are celebrating our first ever volunteer to go on all three expeditions!

Dawn Gilles has just returned from a medical expedition on Jubilee Hope. She has previously partaken in two home building expeditions and one school expedition.

Dawn had the following to say about her experiences with Vine Trust:

‘It's been an amazing experience to volunteer in Tanzania with Vine Trust over the past 6 years. To spend time with vulnerable families and communities who have been hugely impacted by HIV/AIDS and malaria, to find out about their lives and the difficulties they face, yet who are so warm and welcoming to everyone they meet has been a huge inspiration. 

During a Medical Expedition on Lake Victoria this July with my friend Lesley (who spent time as a nurse on Jubilee Hope last year, and encouraged me as a science student to take part in a trip) we learned so much about tropical medicine and treatment of the island communities.  They desperately need ongoing medical care, health education, safe water and sanitation along with protection from water-borne diseases, malaria and HIV/AIDS. We saw some extreme cases of malaria and are so thankful that the Doctors on board could provide immediate treatment to save the lives of the patients. As a result of the expedition, I am now able to research and write an Honours year dissertation on HIV/AIDS and malaria.

Volunteering with Vine Trust has also been a fantastic way to meet people and to make many wonderful friends, in Tanzania and the UK. The national Tanzanian teams, along with the UK team in Edinburgh, are very special people, each one playing an important part using the skills and gifts they have been given to serve the communities in both homebuilding and medical expeditions.  It's been a privilege to have spent time working alongside them and learning from them. They are a family who care so much, and it's always sad to leave them. Until next time.’

A huge Vine Trust thank you to Dawn, we suspect she is the first of many to complete the hat- trick.

The Sun Sets on Summer School Expeditions Published: 23 Jul 2018

What a summer it has been. 

Over the course of five weeks, 97 pupils and teachers from six Scottish schools took part in Vine Trust volunteer expeditions to Tanzania & Peru.

Working alongside local builders, the teams in Tanzania constructed eight family homes around Moshi while the team in Peru team built a large brick driveway for New Hope Children's Home in Arequipa. A lot of hard work is packed into our two week expeditions, but the tangible results of the effort put in during this short time will last for many years to come. 

A massive thank you to our volunteers for an incredible five weeks of hard work, great fun and determination to make significant change to communities in Tanzania & Peru.

Another asante sana and gracias to our fantastic in-country partners and coordinators for ensuring our volunteers had the best experience possible. 


Collaboration with Napier University Published: 26 Jun 2018

Vine Trust is delighted to announce that it has signed a Student Placement Agreement with Edinburgh Napier University School of Health and Social Care.

Representatives of the University (photo) visited the Vine Trust Barge to finalise the discussions which have been taking place over the past few months.

This collaboration will see Vine Trust and Napier University work together to provide overseas volunteering opportunities in the Peruvian Amazon and Tanzania Lake Victoria for nursing and midwifery students as part of their training.

We very much look forward to welcoming our first Napier students on-board our ships from 2019. 

100th Home Opening Ceremony Published: 06 Jun 2018

In the spirit of Volunteers' Week 2018, there was a wonderful celebration of the work that our volunteers contribute to in Moshi this week.

Our Vision Trip team, led by Vine Trust Chairman Albert Bogle and Vice Chairman Alec Carstairs, took part in the opening ceremony of our 100th home for the family of Eva Maria.

This home was the product of the hard work from our April General Home-Building Expedition in collaboration with our partner, Tanzania Women Research Foundation.

We are ever grateful for the work that our volunteers do and the positive impact that this has on families and communities in Tanzania.

2019 Medical Expeditions Now Open Published: 01 May 2018

We are delighted to announce that expedition dates for 2019 medical expeditions are now live and open for application.

Jump on board in 2019! Apply here:



A House for Mama Maria Published: 20 Apr 2018

One of our volunteers from the April General Construction Team shared this video of their time in Tanzania and in the building of a home for Mama Maria. 

Please click here to watch and share in their experience. 

If you would be keen to get involved and have your own experience of Tanzania, please go to 

 Home Building Expeditions and find out more information about our October trip. 


**Vine Trust Double Red Letter Day** Published: 10 Apr 2018

Today, April 10th 2018, is a very exciting and important day for Vine Trust. Not only are we celebrating the visit of the District Commisioner of Moshi, Hon. Kippi Warioba, to the site of the 100th individual home constructed with the support of Vine Trust volunteers, it is also the first day all 3 medical ships, across Tanzania and Peru, are operational simultaneously. 

Alongside our in-country partners TAWREF (Tanzania Women's Research Foundation), a target was set in 2010 to build 100 individual homes for orphaned children in vulnerable communities by the end of 2018. Due to the immense support of our volunteers, friends and supporters, the first brick of the 100th home was laid by the beginning of April, almost 8 months ahead of schedule. Today, the District Commisioner of Moshi met the Vine Trust volunteers involved in the construction of the home on the site to begin the celebration of this momentous occassion. 

Cooinciding with this milestone, today is the first day that Jubilee Hope, on Lake Victoria in Tanzania, and both Amazon Hope 2 and Forth Hope on the Peruvian Amazon, have all been on the water, simulataneously carrying out medical consultations. This month alone, the three ships will be able to deliver health care to around 20,000 people.

To tell us more about the Vine Trust Double Red Letter Day, here is Chief Executive, Willie McPherson:


Vine Trust Venue Hire Published: 04 Apr 2019

Get in touch to enquire:

Change At The Helm Published: 22 Mar 2019

Dear Friends

I think it is important to be always learning from the past, while living in the present, but planning for the future. It is with the future development of the Trust in mind that I announced to the board last year that I would stand down as Chairman in 2019 having completed 34 years at the helm. (I thought our seafaring supporters might like the reference to the nautical).

Little did I think when the Trust was founded in 1985 that I’d end up chairing an international development agency, with Royal patronage, touching the lives of so many vulnerable people.  Over these years we have seen many changes in our approach to our work.  Perhaps our greatest was when we moved in 2002 from being a small grant making organisation to becoming a grant receiving organisation working in partnerships with others to achieve our goals (and of course Willie moved from being a board member to becoming our first employee). In just over eighteen months we changed from having a turnover of around twelve thousand a year to a turnover of just under a million.

It has been my great privilege to lead an organisation in which Chairman, Board, Chief Executive and staff have worked hand in glove to make our strap line “Connecting People To Change Lives” a reality.

It is now my great pleasure to congratulate Mr Alec Carstairs as my successor, and Professor Alasdair Munro as our new Vice Chairman. Both Alec and Alasdair have made outstanding contribution on the board, Alec with his financial background, and Alasdair from the world of science and medicine.

The board also resolved that I should continue to attend board meetings and be known as the Founder and Chaplain to the Board. Making these changes allows the board to have the benefit of a different style of leadership, while keeping continuity, and begins to prepare the Trust to think beyond the leadership that both Willie and I have shared together for many years.

Albert Bogle

MV Nyerere Published: 21 Sep 2018

All at Vine Trust are deeply saddened to hear the news yesterday of the capsizing of the MV Nyerere ferry on Lake Victoria, near the island of Ukerewe (some 12 hours sail across the lake from where Jubilee Hope is working).  Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by this tragedy.

Photo Competition - Calendar and notelets Published: 12 Sep 2018

To see a sneak preview of the photos that will be used for the Vine Trust 2019 Calendars and Notelets  -  please visit media / photos on the website. 

Calendars and Notelets will go on sale as soon as they arrive back from the printers (later this week). Look out for their release on our website and in the next Connections issue to purchase yours!

Seeing our volunteers' photos and reading their quotes was a delight for the team and we are very proud of what you have all achieved!

Asante sana and muchas gracias to all who took part



Happy 70th Birthday to the NHS Published: 05 Jul 2018

Vine Trust would like to take this opportunity to celebrate all the fantastic NHS staff who have volunteered with our medical programmes. Thank you all for your time, skills and care over the years. We appreciate you all!

Why it Matters Published: 28 Jun 2018

The image at the bottom was, until last month, a home - not to a family of chickens or even a couple of dogs, but rather a widow and her five children. Sitting in the shadow of Kilimanjaro on the outskirts of Moshi (Tanzania), this is typical of the poverty in which many we help, are living.   

The image at the top is their new home, built by volunteers from Vine Trust with help from our partners and friends in Tanzania. We may not be able to change the world, but we can certainly make a world of difference to those we help.

Over the summer we have 5 schools in Tanzania engaged in building homes like these and you can read all about their experiences on our Blog Page     

If you feel inspired to join one of our home building expeditions, then there are still a few places left on our October 2018 trip -  Apply Now.  Or if you want to get your school, church group or office involved in something like this then please get in touch, EMAIL your interest to the office and we'll get back to you.  

Hamilton College and Millburn Academy in Tanzania Published: 26 Jun 2018

Hamilton College arrived Moshi late Sunday 24th June, and Millburn Academy on Monday 25th June.

Both were tired, but safe and well.

There are now 5 Schools currently in Tanzania on Vine Trust School Expeditions.

Follow their experiences on the School blog 

Banff and Kincorth arrive in Tanzania. Published: 20 Jun 2018

Monday 18th June (late). 

School expedition from Banff and Kincorth arrive at Moshi, tired but all safe and well. On Tuesday, the team visited one of the worksites (along with the family and the local community). 

Follow their expedition and experiences at the following BLOG


Gala Academy arrive in Moshi Published: 19 Jun 2018

A group from Gala Academy have arrived in Tanzania and have started building a home for Jackson ........... follow their adventure and the progress of Jackson's new home in the following BLOG    

First 2018 Summer School Expedition Published: 07 Jun 2018

Whitburn Academy have landed! The team of 15 arrived safely in Peru and are our first of six schools going on expedition this Summer.

Take a look at their blog to keep up to date with their adventure:

Samuel Limbe Visits Vine Trust Published: 24 May 2018

Vine Trust was delighted to welcome Samuel Limbe to an uncharacteristically sunny Scotland from our Tanzanian partners, AICT. We work closely with the African Inland Church of Tanzania on the Jubilee Hope Programme on Lake Victoria.

Over the past 2 weeks it has been an honour and a pleasure to work alongside Samuel on some exciting developments in the lake region; keep an eye out for updates soon!

Connections 32 is here! Published: 14 May 2018

We are delighted that the latest issue of our newsletter Connections is here!

Look out for it the mail or download your copy here:


Spring 2018 Medical Newsletter Published: 02 May 2018

Vine Trust’s latest medical newsletter is now available, including an update on the recent Conference and the HIV Support Groups for women on the islands of Lake Victoria.

You can download a copy here


Medical Conference 2018- Thank you! Published: 30 Apr 2018

What a wonderful weekend with our brilliant medical volunteers joining us on the barge for the 2018 Medical Conference. A massive thank you to all who came and made the event a huge success. Great to be together, get updates from the programmes and to be inspired for what is to come.

Karibu Maseke and Ronald Published: 25 Apr 2018

Our guests have arrived! Welcome to Edinburgh Ronald and Maseke!

We are thrilled to have our friends here to share at our medical conference on Saturday. Looking forward to hearing them share on the challenges of providing health care on the islands of Lake Victoria.

Emily’s Forth Hope Visit Published: 16 Apr 2018

Emily visited Forth Hope a few weeks ago, see how she got on in Peru with her latest blog:


Landmark Day for Vine Trust Medical Programmes Published: 12 Apr 2018

The 10th of April 2018 was a momentous occasion for Vine Trust as it signals the first time we have had all 3 medical ships out working simultaneously!

Today the MV Amazon Hope 2 and MV Forth Hope are working in the Loreto Region of Peru, whilst the MV Jubilee Hope arrives at the islands of the Kagera Region on Lake Victoria.

Aboard these 3 ships are 20 national health workers supported by 12 overseas volunteer health professionals who, together, will help deliver around 1,100 consultations in the next 24 hours alone!

Vine Trust & TAWREF Celebrate 100th Home…..And Counting! Published: 06 Apr 2018

Vine Trust and Tanzania Women's Research Foundation (TAWREF) are humbled and excited to announce the construction of our 100th home for vulnerable families and orphans in the Kiliminjaro region of Tanzania. Executive Director Dafrosa Itemba explained how the partnership between Vine Trust and TAWREF developed over the past eight years to reach this significant milestone:

"Sometime in 2010, Reverend Willie McPherson, the Chief Executive of Vine Trust, met with Reverend Justin Oforo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kilimanjaro and agreed to embark on a home building project for orphans in Kilimanjaro through TAWREF as a Non Governmental Organization.

What started as an anthill in 2012 has now become a big mountain, the Kilimanjaro! The vision was to have an 100th house come end of 2018. However, the hard working Vine Trust Team and volunteers said “No” to this and decided to amazingly cut it short! This was through extra and strategic fund raising efforts.

The lucky beneficiary for the 100th home is the little girl known as Eva Mary who is in Primary 4.  Eva Mary's mother passed away and her father is an AIDS patient.  Eva Mary lives with her grandmother, Rose Inyas, who has a physical disability but struggling to earn a few shillings on petty business. They live in Uru Kusini Ward, Kimanganuni village in Moshi Rural district and their current house is almost inhabitable.  They own a small piece of family land on which their house is being built.  The combination of being a motherless child, having an AIDS suffering father and a disabled but hard working grandmother to keep the family going makes the celebration of the 100th home even more impactful.

The climax will be the 10th of April 2018 when the Moshi District Commissioner Hon. Kippi Warioba and some of the workers at his office plus some of the TAWREF staff and the press will join hands with the General Home-Building Expedition at the work site.

A million thanks to all of the volunteers who have made reaching this goal possible including the April General Home-Building team and school team from Inverness Royal Academy.

The mission continues…"

Keep updated on the progress of our 100th home on our Home-Building and School Expedition blogs ( 

Vine Trust would like to thank all of our volunteers, friends and supporters and particularly the hard work of the TAWREF team to continue connecting people to change lives.

Happy Easter Published: 29 Mar 2018

May we take this opportunity to wish all our Volunteers, Supporters and Friends a very HAPPY EASTER. 


(The office is now closed over the Easter break and will re-open on Tuesday 3rd April). 



Amazon Hope 2 - Back in service after refurbishment Published: 29 Mar 2018

The MV Amazon Hope 2 sailed today for the Marañon River after completing recent refurbishment work. 

With the MV Forth Hope currently providing medical care on the Ucayali River, today marks a special moment for Vine Trust – having both medical ships out working simultaneously for the first time.  When they return to Iquitos on the 13th of April the ships will have provided around 17,000 consultations.

Find out more how you can join the work as a volunteer ( or contribute towards the costs of providing these vital medical services (





First School Trip in 2018 Published: 27 Mar 2018

Inverness Royal Academy arrived in Tanzania, late of Friday 23rd March, The team of 27 are the first school expedition of 2018. 

Keep up to date with their trip and experiences by following their BLOG




Jubilee Hope HIV Support Groups 2018 Published: 23 Mar 2018

It is estimated that around 20-30% of people in these fishing communities on the islands of Lake Victoria are living with HIV. This significantly higher infection rate is down to a complex and interconnected mix of cultural, social and economic factors. HIV services have been provided by the Jubilee Hope medical ship since it started visiting the islands in March 2015.

In 2017 the Jubilee Hope Medical Programme took the decision to expand a pilot HIV Support Groups for women across islands in the Kagera Region of Lake Victoria.

We hope to build significantly on the progress made last year. Although the magnitude of the work which lies ahead is huge, we are not discouraged. Rather, we are excited and encouraged to know that, through the hard work and generous support of many people in Tanzania and the UK, the Jubilee Hope Medical Programme will not only change lives, but help to save them.

If you would like to support this work in 2018, please visit our fundraising page.


Using Football to Tackle Health Issues on Lake Victoria Published: 19 Mar 2018

The appeal of ‘the beautiful game’, as Pelé described it, reaches even to the remote islands of Tanzanian Lake Victoria, where it’s not uncommon to find villagers wearing replica football shirts or see buildings painted with images of teams and players from around the world.

Using this interest in football, the Jubilee Hope medical team has started to organise short matches with the local communities where the aim goes beyond just ‘fun’ but also allows bridge-building and education on some very culturally-sensitive subjects, as Programme Coordinator, Ronald Kebaso reports:

"The aim is to bring together the island community and the Jubilee Hope team. Before the game starts we get an opportunity of talking to the players and the people watching on different topics, particularly in line with our HIV work. Key topics addressed include HIV prevention and control, stopping violence against women and children, stopping drug abuse etc. Indeed, so far this has been a very exciting development and the responses have been encouraging. This team of men playing on the pitch, supported and cheered on by their wives, neighbours and friends has helped bring a oneness within the community and with the Jubilee Hope program.  We believe that this team spirit can help us drive the fight against HIV to a higher level and ultimately the woman on the island can live a quiet normal life, free of violence of any nature.”

To learn more about the work of Vine Trust in Tanzania, visit - where you can also find details of how you can volunteer on one of our trips and/or donate to the ongoing activities -

Jubilee Hope Saving Lives Published: 12 Mar 2018

According to a recent study commissioned by Vine Trust on the islands of Lake Victoria, the leading cause of death reported for infants and children is malaria (43.3%).  This life-threatening disease often goes untreated, normally due to the few health facilities on the islands running out of medication. 

As well as delivering medication to island dispensaries and participating in malaria prevention activities, the Jubilee Hope medical ship also brings life-saving malaria treatment on its expeditions, as was reported by local worker, Ronald Kebaso from the trip in February to the islands of Goziba and Kerebe:

It was shortly after the last patients had gone out. Everybody was taking a break after a long day's work. Suddenly, a small boat came rowing to the ship. On board was a mother with a baby strapped to her back. The baby looked weak and immobile. The Jubilee Hope team of the national workers and the volunteers swung into action. Quickly, blood samples were taken and the baby was diagnosed to be having severe malaria with severe anaemia. She was started on initial anti-malarial treatment and quickly referred to the hospital for blood transfusion and further management. She received the blood transfusion and now she is well. The mother is very happy and grateful that Jubilee Hope was there at the right time to save her daughter”.

You can help the Vine Trust’s medical programmes to continue saving lives in these remote and isolated communities.  We need medical professionals to volunteer on our ships and work alongside the local health team (medical-expeditions) as well as financial support to help cover the costs of these services (donate). 

International Women’s Day Published: 08 Mar 2018

In celebration, we'd like to highlight the incredible women on the islands of Lake Victoria in Tanzania, who are working together to tackle the devastating effects of HIV on their families and communities.

You can read more here:


Amazon Hope 2 out of Dry Dock Published: 08 Mar 2018

In the last week Amazon Hope 2 has come out of dry dock. The dry-docking period has allowed the team to conduct several maintenance tasks “below the waterline”.

Firstly, a full ultrasound of the hull was done to assess for any areas of corrosion or damage. In the round the hull was in excellent shape with only a few small areas requiring remedial action. Once these repairs were made, the whole hull was re-painted.

The propeller and the sheath the propeller shaft sits in (cutless bearing) was inspected. The cutless was showing much more ware than we had expected and so a replacement was flown over from Lima. This was fitted and some minor repairs done to the propeller blade, due to wear and tear from floating debris over the years.

Beyond that we have made a few internal repairs, to areas like the chain locker and on deck we have replaced some of the worn sections of hand rails. Although AH2 is now out of dry dock some of the on-deck repairs will continue for another few days as we complete the paintwork above deck and replace panelling in some of the medical areas.

This will all be complete in the next week or so and we are looking forward to having Amazon Hope 2 looking “as good as new” and back in service very soon, to work in parallel with Forth Hope.

If you are interested in joining one of our medical expeditions to work on board Amazon Hope 2 then please see our Medical Expeditions page - {site_url}volunteer/medical-expeditions


The Epic Voyage of Jubilee Hope Published: 15 Feb 2018

(Update posted: 13th March 2018)


The Epic Voyage of the Jubilee Hope’ gains Four Nominations at Nice.

Following the award of excellence given to Glasgow Films for the documentary ‘The Epic Voyage of Jubilee Hope’ (see details below), the documentary has now been nominated in four categories at the Nice International Film Festival in May. The Nice Festival is specifically for Independents and runs concurrently with the Cannes Film Festival.

Nominations are in the following four categories:
Best Cinematography in a Feature Documentary (Jack Lawrence)
Best Director of a Feature Documentary (Alex McCall)
Best Documentary Feature (Alex McCall and Robert Beedham)
The Award of the Jury (Alex McCall and Robert Beedham)

Well done to all. 

More information, when it's available. 


The Epic Voyage of the Jubilee Hope’ Wins Award of Excellence in USA

It was with great delight and pleasure that Vine Trust learned that 'The Epic Voyage of Jubilee Hope' had won an award - congratulations to Alex McCall and all at Glasgow Films. 

For information, please see the following press release from Alex:

Glasgow, Scotland - February 14, 2018 – Glasgow Films, a film production company operated by Director/Producer, Alex McCall, and Writer/Producer, Robert Beedham, has won a prestigious Award of Excellence, from The Impact DOCS Awards, California, USA.

The award was given for Glasgow Films invigorating Documentary Feature for STV, The Epic Voyage of the Jubilee Hope, which tells the story of the hazardous journey by sea and land of the medical ship Jubilee Hope (a converted Royal Navy Fleet Tender crewed by a volunteer team on behalf of the Vine Trust, a charitable organisation based in Leith, Scotland) on its event-filled voyage from Edinburgh to Mombasa, Kenya via South Africa. In Mombasa the vessel was divided into 2 parts, then hauled overland on a 96-wheel trailer, across the African plains to the massive inland lake, Lake Victoria, where it now provides a ‘first-time’ health service to the indigenous population, living on the many islands on the lake. And the need is desperate. Over 30% of islanders suffer from AIDS. Many women flee there to escape the stigma of AIDS, the spread of the disease being exacerbated by fishermen who develop a fatalistic attitude to life. Incredibly nearly 5000 fishermen perish in the lake every year.

Impact DOCS recognizes film, television, videography and new media professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who contribute to profound social change. Documentaries were received from 30 countries, including veteran award-winning filmmakers and fresh new talent.  Entries were judged by highly qualified and award-winning professionals in the film and television industry.  Impact DOCS is not an easy award to win. Entries are received from around the world from powerhouse companies like Disney and Discovery, to highly experienced Oscar and Emmy winning individuals and professionals - all the way to first time filmmakers and students. Impact DOCS helps set the standard for craft and creativity as well as power catalysts for global change.


Alex McCall 




Comings and Goings Published: 22 Jan 2018

The start of the new year brought a number of changes to the Vine Trust Staff Team.

After almost nine years with the Trust we bid farewell to Michelle Livingstone our Expedition / Education Co-ordinator at the end of December. We wish Michelle well in her future plans and thank her for all her work in supporting and developing our school expeditions and GSF conferences in previous years.

Erika de Brown is the new voice to the switchboard and face at the front door and no doubt will become a well-known face to all who visit the barge. Erika is also a fluent Spanish and Quechua speaker which will no doubt make our Peruvian friends and colleagues feel very much at home.

Martin Holt is our new Chief Operating Officer and brings with him extensive experience in team management, project implementation, and programme development. He is a keen runner and amongst other things has climbed Kilimanjaro a few years ago.

We wish them both a very warm welcome to the Trust.

Medical Conference Update Published: 04 Jan 2018

We are delighted to announce that Mr Stuart J Fergusson will be speaking at Vine Trust’s Medical Conference in April.

In partnership with Mr Mike McKirdy (Director of Global Health, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow), Mr Fergusson has written the College’s report on the value of international volunteering, “Global Citizenship in the Scottish Health Service”. 

For more details about the Conference, including how you can sign up, please follow this link -


Mr Stuart James Fergusson BSc (Med Sci), MBChB, ChM, MRCS, DRCOG, PGCAP, FHEA

Specialty Registrar in General Surgery and Clinical Leadership Fellow at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow 2016-17

Mr Stuart J Fergusson graduated MBChB from the University of Glasgow in 2006.  He has subsequently trained in general surgery in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and from 2016-17 worked at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow as a Clinical Leadership Fellow. 

He was a Clinical Teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh from 2012-14 and maintains interests in medical education, global health needs and clinical/educational research. Stuart’s interests in global health were fuelled by a 2005 medical elective in Malawi. 

Since this time he has actively contributed to surgical training in Rwanda and to a multinational surgical research collaborative which has involved over 60 countries (see 

In the future, Stuart hopes to combine his global health interests with a career as a surgeon in one of Scotland’s remote and rural hospitals.




Empowering Women on Lake Victoria’s Islands Published: 19 Dec 2017

In 2017, The Jubilee Hope Programme established 'HIV support groups' for women who regularly suffer from discrimination, violence and increased poverty on the islands of Lake Victoria.  These groups empower women in many ways, including education, orientation and access to small microloans.

Jubilee Hope’s HIV Services Coordinator, Ronald Kebaso Onsoti, has sent an update on the great progress being made with the Support Groups for women on the islands:

“Overall we have a total of 15 post-test groups across the larger Ikuza, Mazinga, Bumbire, Kerebe and Goziba islands with a total of 339 women.

Out of the 15 groups, we have managed to support 7 groups with the financial support from the program as well as  microeconomic development training. We have also offered training on ‘living positively’ (i.e. living with the HIV virus) to 11 of the 15 groups.

Each group is registered with the local leadership of the island and has their own governing constitution and leaders they elect on their own. We have appointed coordinators on each island to keep the groups linked among themselves and with the Jubilee Hope Programme. 

The Jubilee Hope Programme hope gives the financial seed to the groups but not individuals in the group. It is the group together that agree on how to distribute the funds amongst themselves. The women borrow the money, invest it, make some profit and repay it in small bits to the group for the next person to borrow.

In monitoring the performances of individual women and groups, our coordinators work with group leaders and local government officials to ensure all laid down rules are followed.  These coordinators report to us on a monthly basis or whenever necessary.

The response from the women has been extremely positive. For those who have been supported financially they have been able to start some small businesses like buying and selling fish, sardines, fresh foods, eating places and grocery shops. Some have started keeping chicken, ducks and goats. We have encouraged them to start small and grow steadily.

There have also been some challenges but nothing beyond our ability to manage. They include a large number of women in need of financial support. So far the program has maintained a step by step approach to ensure we don’t give out funds to those who will not be committed to the process. 

I wish to acknowledge the role played by the group leaders and the islands coordinators in carrying out our mandate with the post test groups. I also wish to appreciate the link that has been established between the post test clubs and the medical ship. Special appreciation also goes to the volunteers who have reached out to these groups with kind words, words of encouragement and even a hug that gives hope to these women.”

You can support the work amongst the women on the islands by donating via the following page:

Medical Conference 2018 Published: 11 Dec 2017

We are delighted to announce our 2018 medical conference.

We are holding a two day event from Friday 27th April-Saturday 28th April 2018 which consists of a welcome dinner at 7pm on the Friday evening followed the main session on Saturday (9am-4pm).

Join us for a 2 day event that will feature talks and discussions about recent updates and future developments for Amazon and Jubilee Hope.

Schedule Details

The conference will be held at the Vine Trust barge in Leith, Edinburgh. We will commence with a welcome dinner on the evening of Friday 27th April at 7pm.*

The Saturday session will begin at 9am until 4pm and will feature a number of talks and presentations including key speakers: Maseke Mgabo who will update us on the household study carried out on the islands of Lake Victoria and Ronald Onsoti will update us on the Jubilee Hope programme.

We will release further details about the conference content in the coming weeks so keep an eye out for updates.

*Overnight accommodation is available at a number of places nearby including: The Holiday Inn Express, Malmaison and the Premier Inn Leith Waterfront. There are also a number of B&Bs located near Leith Links, Constitution Street and Ferry Road.


The conference fee for Saturday participation is £40 (Including lunch and refreshments) and the special price of £60 for Friday night (two course meal) and Saturday.

This is also an opportunity to bring along someone who may be interested in volunteering with the Vine Trust medical programmes and would like to find out more.

To book your place at the conference please register via this link:

Please note we have a limited number of places and a high volume of interest so we advise you purchase as soon as you are able to avoid disappointment.

If you have queries at this stage please email

Highland Spring Ltd cycle to Tanzania Published: 10 Nov 2017

A team of colleagues from Highland Spring Ltd, based in Perthshire, launched a fundraising campaign this week to fund their participation in a Vine Trust home-building expedition in October 2018.

The group of 29, including Chief Executive Les Montgomery, have challenged themselves to fundraise the full expedition costs together, totalling over £75,000. The team decided to fundraise as one group to support each other from beginning to end of the expedition and create a great experience together as a team.

To kick-start their fundraising, the team will be cycling the distance from Scotland to Tanzania, around 5,000 miles, on static bikes at the Ochils site in Blackford. Highland Spring Ltd made the first donation towards the team’s goal, pledging the company’s October monthly charitable donation of £250 which is sent to a different charity each month.

Louise Campbell, Vine Trust’s Programme Manager for Expeditions and Education, said “It has been wonderful to see such team spirit and mutual support from the group already. The team have some great creative fundraising ideas for the coming months and we are really excited to see these put into action to help them reach their fundraising target. I have been overwhelmed by the motivation and enthusiasm of the group so far and look forward to supporting them in the run-up to their expedition.”

We wish our Highland Spring Expedition team the very best in their fundraising efforts and thank them for their support to help Vine Trust connect people to change lives.

Babcock International’s Pilot Home-Building Expedition With Vine Trust Published: 25 Oct 2017

A group of eager volunteers from Babcock International are heading to Moshi, Tanzania for a special homebuilding expedition in partnership with Vine Trust, where they will help make a significant difference to the lives of vulnerable families.

The party of 26 Babcock employees has been challenged to build three houses for children and families in need, providing them with a safer future and the chance to stay together after life changing events.

As this initial five-year partnership between Babcock and Vine Trust commences, Donna Maplesden, team member and Vine Trust Relationship Manager within Babcock, is looking forward to the challenge ahead which will see her skills put to the test in an entirely different way as she sets to work building homes and supporting the families. With her team of 25 Babcock colleagues, Donna will work alongside Louise Campbell, Vine Trust Programme Manager of Overseas Expeditions and Education at Vine Trust, to ensure the project is delivered safely and successfully.

Talking about the trip, Donna said: “I cannot wait to get to Tanzania so the team can get to work – we are all very excited to see the tangible aspects of the project come to fruition after all of our fundraising efforts. I know it will be hard work – and a learning experience in many senses – but it will be so rewarding to meet the people we are helping. Vine Trust is a great charity and I’m looking forward to developing this programme, and our relationship, over the next few years.”

Reverend Willie McPherson, Vine Trust Chief Executive, added: “I am overwhelmed by the interest and excitement shown by the Babcock volunteers. From our work with Babcock on Forth Hope, the commitment to projects such as this is clear, and I can’t wait to see how our partnership develops in the coming years. I wish the team every success for the trip and look forward to hearing from them when they return.”

The team will travel to Tanzania on October 28th. You can follow their story on our Vine Trust Home-Building Blog here:

Bringing Support and Hope for Women Living with HIV Published: 06 Oct 2017

Faced with stigma, prejudice and the high risk of violence, many women living with HIV on the islands of Lake Victoria are scared to declare their status The result is a situation where they are robbed of access to medical care and support and left to battle alone with the physical and emotional challenges that come with being infected with the virus. 

Motivated by the needs of these women, in 2017 the Jubilee Hope Medical Programme took the decision to expand a pilot HIV Support Groups for women across islands in the Kagera Region of Lake Victoria.  In the past 6 months, groups have now been established in 5 different locations with a total of 121 women taking part. 

These groups allow women to openly declare their HIV status and be supported by others who are going through the same situation.  By disclosing that they are HIV positive, these women are able to access life-changing antiretroviral treatment, which not only considerably improves their own health but also significantly reduces the risk of the infection being passed on to their unborn or infant child.

A recent Vine Trust volunteer reported the joy this can bring to the lives of the women:  “one woman who asked for her toddler to be tested for HIV burst into tears when she heard it was negative. On enquiry she explained she had taken her antiretrovirals whilst pregnant”. 

As well as accessing medical support and counselling, the groups also allow the women to access microenterprise initiatives, which start with financial stewardship classes from Community Development workers.  The funds which the women then receive allows them to start income generating activities such as the buying and selling fish, raising poultry or the planting of fruit and vegetables.

Of vital importance to this whole process is community engagement as a way aiding ongoing sustainability whilst also challenging and transforming many of the cultural norms which have been contributing the plight that these women face.  As a result, all of these groups are registered with the local governments at their respective islands and steps are underway to have them also registered with their corresponding district social development offices. 

With an estimated 20-30% of the population on many islands living with HIV it is clear that there is still much work to be done.  However, we are encouraged that this innovative and collaborative community-based approach is allowing women to be treated, educated, orientated and empowered to stand together in the fight against HIV, which has for too long devastated communities on the islands of Tanzanian Lake Victoria.

Royal Approval for New Medical Ship Published: 05 Oct 2017

The village of Oran on the banks of the Amazon River in Peru was the setting for the visit of Vine Trust Patron, HRH The Princess Royal to its new, purpose-built medical ship, the MV Forth Hope.  Accompanied by national and regional dignitaries, Her Royal Highness was warmly greeted by the local community before taking a tour of the ship, seeing the work that it provides and the wide range of facilities which are available. 

The MV Forth Hope only recently arrived in Peru at the beginning of September after a 42-day, 6786 mile delivery voyage from Scotland.  Already in active service, this new vessel is Vine Trust’s second medical ship in the region and will help provide 200,000 medical consultations each year to remote and isolated communities along five river basins in the region.

Medical care aboard the ships is provided by a core team of eight Peruvian health professionals thanks to a collaboration agreement between Vine Trust and the Peruvian Ministry of Health.  The services are further enhanced by overseas medical volunteers who visit the programme throughout the year, working alongside the national workers and sharing their knowledge, skills and expertise.

“We are delighted to see the new ship already out providing care and the reaction from the patients has been extremely positive” said Kenny Holt, Vine Trust’s Medical Programmes Manager. “The Programme provides a very high standard of care from passionate and committed health workers who deliver a whole range of services in partnership with the villages.  The introduction of a second medical ship reinforces our capacity for further development, which will strengthen the local response to healthcare needs in the years ahead”.


Vine Trust volunteers help build a brighter future in Tanzania Published: 15 Aug 2017

Vine Trust has had an exceptionally busy summer of Home-Building in Tanzania, with over 170 dedicated volunteers, working in collaboration with our in-country partners, Tanzania Women Research Foundation (TAWREF), supporting sustainable development projects in the Moshi region.

Throughout June and July 2017, 5 School Expedition teams, composed of pupils and staff from 8 UK Schools, in addition to the university student “Tanzania Twenty” Home-Building Expedition team from The Robertson Trust, helped to construct an incredible total of 14 individual family homes. As well as providing safety and security for vulnerable children and families, these homes offer a safe space for people to grow and develop, supporting a brighter and more hopeful future.

After each team had completed their expedition, local fundis (builders) added the finishing touches to ensure the buildings were ready for their new owners. Over the past few weeks, our Tanzania Co-ordinators and TAWREF partners have had the pleasure of handing over the keys of the recently completed homes to their new owners.

The first families to move into their new homes were those of James Chonjo and Efata Onesmo. When Vine Trust and TAWREF first met James, he was living with his parents and brother, Fabian, in a dilapidated mud house, with no access to a toilet. James struggled with severe mental health issues, and had been unable to continue his education beyond Primary 7. Fabian, too, had been unable to pass on to high school, while their father was unable to work. This left James’ mother as the sole breadwinner for the family, providing casual labour on neighbours’ land in exchange for small payments.

Vine Trust’s Robertson Trust team worked incredibly hard throughout their 2 week expedition to provide a brighter future for the family. James’ new home is a safe and secure space for him and his family to live, allowing them to focus on their livelihood, health and well-being. With the support of TAWREF and the local community, James is now also attending a day care centre which provides him with the support he requires, and Fabian is training at a local car garage.

Our Tanzania Twenty team also helped to build a new home for Efata, his wife and their 6 children. Several years ago, with the family already living in extreme poverty, their home was devastated by a fire. The local community rallied round Efata’s family, constructing them a basic house from mud and corrugated iron, but this had since become unsafe for habitation. Thanks to our wonderful volunteers and local partners, the family now have the opportunity to strive for a more hopeful future in a warm and welcoming environment.

Both homes were handed over to the respective families in a colourful and jubilant ceremony attended by community leaders, neighbours, well-wishers and representatives of TAWREF and Vine Trust. The remaining 12 homes built by our School Expedition teams will be handed over in the coming weeks.

With the completion of these 14 houses over the summer, we are now well on our way to our #100Homes target, having constructed 92 individual family homes to date. Find out how you can support our Home-Building Programme in Tanzania:

Forth Hope completes epic voyage to the Amazon Published: 15 Aug 2017

Forth Hope ....... is now at anchor some 8 miles from the Amazon City of Iquitos where we will be arriving at 6.30am later this morning 7th September.

We will have covered just under 6800 miles in 42 days. (40 at sea). Already plans are being made for the ships deployment and a high level visit to see the vessel at work in just over a weeks time from various Government Ministers, the Vice President of Peru and our Patron HRH The Princess Royal.

Last night at midnight we passed Amazon Hope 2 which was moored in quiet stillness at a community further down the river with barely a light, no doubt asleep ahead of a busy day at work.



Vine Trust’s new medical ship, Forth Hope, set sail from Babcock’s Rosyth site in Scotland on the morning of Wednesday 26th July, beginning an epic 6,600 mile transatlantic delivery voyage to the Amazonian city of Iquitos, Peru.

Fresh from its recent outfitting, undertaken by Babcock with the support of 30 marine businesses, Forth Hope and its crew got underway early on Wednesday morning, making their way under the River Forth’s 3 iconic bridges – The Forth Rail Bridge, The Forth Road Bridge, and the new Queensferry Crossing. The plan is for the ship to initially sail south towards Las Palmas, before turning west and heading for Macapa in Brazil, and finally sailing up the mighty Amazon River to Iquitos.

Once in operation on the Peruvian Amazon, Forth Hope will become a floating primary healthcare centre, providing 2 million dental and medical consultations over the next 20 years. Complete with a fully-equipped dental surgery, operating theatre, pharmacy and consultation rooms, Forth Hope will enable Vine Trust volunteers and our in-country clinical teams to bring primary healthcare to some of the region’s most remote and vulnerable communities. This new ship will hold roughly 100,000 consultations each year, enabling the Amazon Hope Medical Programme to double the number of patients it is currently able to receive.

Throughout Forth Hope's voyage we hope to be able to share regular updates and posts from the crew about the journey and life on board - so keep an eye out on our Facebook page and website Blogs. You can also track Forth Hope's progress around the world (while it's within range) on MarineTraffic and VesselFinder.

You can be part of Forth Hope's life-changing work! Sponsor a mile of our voyage by texting "VTFH17 £5" to 70070 to give £5, or donate to our #FloatTheBoat crowdfunding campaign here!

PRESS: For more information about Forth Hope, please contact or call 0131 555 5598

HRH The Princess Royal names Forth Hope Published: 31 May 2017

On Saturday 20th May, Vine Trust was delighted to welcome our patron, HRH The Princess Royal, to name our new medical vessel, “MV Forth Hope”, at Babcock International in Rosyth.

The Amazon-bound 35 metre Forth Hope, currently being outfitted in a project supported by Babcock and 30 marine and medical organisations, sailed into Rosyth at the end of 2016 to be transformed into a fully-equipped medical ship - complete with a laboratory, pharmacy, operating theatre, consultation rooms and dental surgery.

Ahead of its epic 7,000 mile journey from the River Forth, across the Atlantic Ocean and along the iconic Amazon River, HRH The Princess Royal joined Vine Trust Chief Executive, Willie McPherson, and representatives from Babcock International aboard the ship, where she formally named Forth Hope and unveiled a commemorative plaque. HRH The Princess Royal joined a tour of the vessel, viewing the exceptional healthcare facilities, as well as the social areas and cabins for crew and volunteers.

After meeting representatives of Vine Trust and the many organisations that have generously contributed to the outfitting of the ship, HRH The Princess Royal addressed the assembled guests, speaking warmly of Vine Trust’s work and of the life-changing impact Forth Hope will have on remote communities living on the Peruvian Amazon.

Willie McPherson, Vine Trust’s Chief Executive, said, “It has been wonderful to see so many organisations generously contribute to this life-changing project, and we look forward to sharing stories from Forth Hope’s Atlantic voyage and its medical work on the Peruvian Amazon.”

Due to leave Babcock’s facility in late June or early July, Forth Hope will deliver primary healthcare to some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. It is anticipated to provide 100,000 free consultations and treatments each year, and more than 2 million consultations over the next 20 years.

“Is there a doctor in the house?” - Kenny Holt Published: 06 Mar 2017

An article by Kenny Holt, Vine Trust Medical Programme Manager.

There is no doubt that the availability and recruitment of suitably qualified personnel plays a fundamental role in the provision of quality health services. Despite significant improvements in the healthcare system in recent years, Tanzania still faces challenges in training, recruiting, retaining and distributing health professionals to meet the medical needs of its population of just over 49 million.

In the recently published National Five Year Development Plan (2017-2021), the Government highlights the need to address “the human resource crisis which constrains the provision of adequate health care”. This crisis includes an estimated 0.31 doctors per 10,000 of the population, giving Tanzania the seventh-lowest physician-to-population ratio of all nations.

Rural areas are particularly underserved by health workers. In 2006, studies revealed that only 20% of doctors practiced in the rural areas where 73% of Tanzania’s population lived. This unbalance was largely down to rural posts being unattractive for trained health professionals. A 2007 study of final year medical students in Tanzania highlighted that less than half (48.5%) were willing to apply for or accept rural posts, mainly due to “adverse working conditions”, despite most of them originating from these areas.  

Conversely, it is estimated that 52% of all doctors are employed in the Dar es Salaam region, resulting in the density of doctors there being six times higher than the national average.  Projections based on current training and recruitment strategies suggest that the physician-to-population ratio in rural areas will improve very little over the next decade, and will only reach 0.55 per 10,000 by 2025 (compared to 2.6 in urban areas).  

Since March 2015, the Jubilee Hope Programme has been working in the Kagera region, where it is estimated there are only 25 doctors serving a population of 2.5 million - the third lowest doctor-patient ratio in the country. With so few physicians for such a large population, it is unsurprising that there are no doctors stationed on Kagera’s remote islands of Lake Victoria.

Even if more doctors, dentists and nurses were available, the challenge of recruitment for rural areas would still need to be addressed. The islands are an even more extreme setting due their isolation and a lack of facilities, equipment, resources and support for anyone thinking of accepting an assignment there. Add to this the stigma and poor reputation of these island communities, and you have a very unattractive proposition for healthcare workers whose skills are in high demand on the mainland. 

This reality highlights three important features of Vine Trust’s Jubilee Hope Medical Programme as it works with local communities:

  1. The value of our current medical team - Despite the recruitment challenges, the Jubilee Hope Programme has been able to employ a core team of hard working and dedicated health professionals who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of the islanders. The ongoing success of the Programme depends greatly upon their continued commitment, development and training in the months and years ahead.
  2. The important role of volunteers – Overseas volunteers offer their knowledge and skills on expeditions, and support the small local team of health professionals to deliver the vital medical services which are in such high demand. As well as bringing their expertise to patient consultations and treatment, volunteers also help in the equipping, capacity building and training of local workers.   
  3. The suitability of the medical ship concept – A medical ship provides an equipped, safe and hygienic facility for patient consultations. It also facilitates the transportation and participation of a sizeable team of health professionals to visit these remote island locations.

To find out more about Vine Trust and the Jubilee Hope Medical Programme, including volunteering opportunities, please visit our Medical Volunteering page. 

Kenny Holt
Vine Trust Medical Programme Manager


Primary References:

  • Tanzania Service Availability Mapping Project - Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
  • Worker Retention in Human Resources for Health: Catalyzing and Tracking Change - Yumkella, IntraHealth International.
  • National Five Year Development Plan: Tanzania 2017/17-2020/21 – Tanzania Ministry of Finance and Planning.
  • Addressing the human resource for health crisis in Tanzania: the lost in transition syndrome – Sirli, Kiwara, Frumence, Semafaku & Hurtig - Tanzania Journal of Health Research, Vol 16, Number 2, April 2014.

Jubilee Hope tackles HIV on Lake Victoria Published: 23 Jan 2017

An estimated 1.5 million people in Tanzania are HIV-positive, that's 1 in 20 of the country's citizens. Despite significant effort and investment progress in reducing the spread of HIV infection in Tanzania continues to be slow. The need for HIV services, both preventative and clinical, is huge, especially amongst high-risk and vulnerable groups such as the nomadic fishing communities on Lake Victoria. Vine Trust's Jubilee Hope Medical Programme works to reach and treat these communities, providing essential care and eduration to reduce the rate and effects of HIV infection.

The current initiative to address the HIV/ AIDS epidemic in Tanzania is being led by PEPFAR, a USA government programme which provides an estimated 75% of all HIV/ AIDS services in the country, and has invested more than £2.25bn over the past 10 years. However, for people living on the remote islands of Lake Victoria, very little of this huge investment has been targeted at addressing the HIV problems they face.

It is estimated that around 20-30% of people in these fishing communities are living with HIV. This significantly higher infection rate is down to a complex and interconnected mix of cultural, social and economic factors. HIV services have been provided by the Jubilee Hope medical ship since it slarted visiting the islands in March 2015, but plans are in place to significantly increase the scale and impact of the work being done. By the beginning of 2017, through community engagement and regional HIV agency collaboration, Vine Trust will be providing a range of services to these island communities including counselling, testing and treatment.

A vital component of these services will be achieved through the purchase of a CD4 machine before the end of 2016. A CD4 machine provides a guide as to when a person living with HIV should start life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART). The ART service will be available to all community members who are HIV-positive with targeted promotion amongst children and pregnant women.

Due to the complex nature of the challenge being faced, the Programme's services must go beyond the clinical approach alone. Included in the plans are a variety of community-based initiatives which will engage community leaders, slart support groups and train health champions. These will attempt to respond to the deep-rooted behaviours and attitudes which significantly contribute to the ongoing spread of HIV on the islands.

Although the magnitude of the work which lies ahead is huge, we are not discouraged. Rather, we are excited and encouraged to know that, through the hard work and generous support of many people in Tanzania and the UK, the Jubilee Hope Medical Programme will not only change lives, but help to save them. 

Vine Trust wins national recognition for Amazon project Published: 13 Dec 2016

As we approach the end of 2016, it's incredible to think that the Amazon Hope Medical Programme has been providing health services to remote villages in Peru for 14 years. 

Connecting people to change lives continues to be at the heart of the Amazon Hope Programme. This was highlighted on the national stage earlier this year when the programme was announced as the 2016 winner of Best Practice in Public Management in the category Public-Private Cooperation, for its participation in the 'Mama River' project with Cayeteno Heredia University and the Municipality District of Parinari. The pioneering project was introduced in 2015 to improve maternal and child health in 13 riverine communities in the district of Parinari by training community health workers to identify pregnant women. Through the use of smart phone technology, the community health workers are able to coordinate rapid treatment in cases with complications or danger signs during pregnancies, and prevent maternal and perinatal deaths.The Amazon Hope Medical team has also been involved in delivering training and capacity building sessions to Community Health Workers.

In October, collaboration with the Ñahui Ophthalmology Clinic, Lima, saw the delivery of the 7th eye surgery campaign performed aboard the Amazon Hope 2. Since 2011, 1500 consultations have been provided and 275 surgeries performed for cararacts and pterygium. Patients report that these surgeries and treatments make a significant impact on their quality of life and movement, allowing them to interact and participate again in a whole range of family and community activities, and improving their self-confidence.

All of the achievements in 2016 motivate us to keep seeking further ways to grow and enhance the quality and quantity of services which can be provided through the Programme. With discussions currently taking place with a number of different national and regional agencies, 2017 has the potential to be our biggest and busiest year yet. What better way to celebrate 15 years working in the Amazon!

Forth Hope’s Maiden Voyage Published: 03 Oct 2016

We are delighted to announce that MV Forth Hope, Vine Trust’s first ever new medical vessel, is undertaking its delivery voyage. Having departed from Albion Dockyard in Bristol, the ship made its way along the Caledonian Canal and past the Forth Rail Bridge en route to Rosyth, where it will be fitted out by Babcock International and various subcontractors over the winter months.

We would like to thank Scottish Canals for enabling the safe passage of MV Forth Hope through the Caledonian Canal.

Everyone at Vine Trust is hugely excited by the imminent arrival of MV Forth Hope, and we will keep you updated on its progress.