Trustees and staff

Jon Uglow – Chairmanjon_compressed

I set up the Rafiki Thabo Foundation after spending eight months in Kenya when I was 18. While there I realised what a barrier the expense of education is to most families, preventing children and young adults from going on to gain meaningful qualifications that will enable them to get work.

I love the fact that by simply enabling students to complete their education through providing fees, lives can be transformed.  Social circumstances can change – not just for individuals but their wider families too.  It’s easy!

Besides my involvement with the Rafiki Thabo Foundation, I work as a garden designer and am married with two sons.

Paul Evans- Treasurer  Dad 2

I retired a few years ago from a major international accountancy firm in the City of
London, where I  practised as an Insolvency Practitioner. I work now solely in the voluntary sector, providing financial advice and expertise to a number of small charities.

I have followed the creation and development of Rafiki through my daughter Susannah, also a Trustee, and was invited to become a Trustee and Treasurer as Rafiki seeks to expand its scope of operations.

Its good that Rafiki operates in local areas in three countries in East and Southern Africa, ensuring that students can complete their education.  It is inspiring to know that this will make a difference to their lives and that the hopes and aspirations of these young people can become reality because of Rafiki.

Andy Uglow – Secretary                           Andrew Uglow_compressed

Before 2001 I had never heard of Lesotho and had scarcely plucked up the courage to cross the River Tamar and leave
Cornwall.  Things changed.  After 8 months working at Ha Fusi Secondary School, I became somewhat attached to the country, and visited annually and became a Rafiki Trustee.

In 2006, after graduating from the University of York, I completed my PGCE and started work as an History teacher.  Since then, I have worked at Cokethorpe School, in Oxfordshire, from where I have run a number of trips to visit the Ha Fusi School project in Lesotho supported by Rafiki Thabo Foundation.  In 2011, I enjoyed a two-year sabbatical, working at a school in Malawi.  Now back in Oxfordshire, I am looking forward to seeing the charity continue to provide its unique support to communities that are so in need.

Emma Raha – trustee

I have supported Rafiki Thabo Foundation as a founding Trustee and fundraiser since its launch in 2006. 

Teaching students in rural South East Kenya for eight months aged 18, and giving pastoral care in the hilly communities, motivated me to stay in touch and go back whenever possible.

I returned to carry out research via St Andrews’s University, then later completed an MSc in Human Rights at the London School of Economics and Political Science, centred on taking a human rights based approach to poverty reduction. 

My career has since taken me from countering human trafficking, to healthcare governance, and throughout the past 10 years, it has been built on enabling others to collaborate to overcome all sorts of barriers and to achieve shared goals. 

Susannah Carras – trustee

I spend my time as an arts practitioner, teaching performing arts in primary education and also performing as a harpist in and around London.

I spent eight months in Uganda aged 18 with The Right Hand Trust and witnessed the struggles of getting an education.  I love how Rafiki works in partnership with people at grass-roots level to overcome many barriers and enable them to pursue their hopes and dreams.

Meeting the Scholars that Rafiki supports in Uganda is always humbling and inspiring. They are so thankful for everything, and knowing that people are helping them to gain an education has given them, their families and communities hope for a better future.

Ben Hitchens – trustee

I work as a solicitor in the City of London, specialising in intellectual property law.  I work for a broad range of clients from large corporations to individuals starting up business for the first time.

I became involved with Rafiki after spending time in Botswana.  The natural beauty of Africa, coupled with the uplifting and enthusiastic outlook of its people inspired me to seek to develop my links with the continent, with the aim of contributing to its future financial and emotional prosperity.

Rafiki provides both me and our supporters with the platform to make a difference to specific people in specific communities.  By allowing us to channel our energies and financial assistance directly to those who most need our support, Rafiki distinguishes itself from other charities and genuinely helps others to achieve their dreams.

Elizabeth Dunford – trustee

A few years ago, I felt a strong calling to retire early from my job as Maths teacher and Head of Year in a Nottingham high school and volunteer to use my skills in Africa.  Through my daughter (who served with the Right Hand Trust in Uganda) I discovered that the Rafiki Thabo Foundation was looking for a volunteer to oversee their school project in Lesotho and the job seemed tailor-made for me.  I spent 2 years there in 2009/2010 and had a wonderful and fulfilling experience.  My time there also reinforced my view that the only sustainable tool for true development is education, the core belief of Rafiki.

Now that Fusi Secondary School is self-sufficient, it is wonderful to see opportunities to support students into higher education, an almost-impossible aspiration for local children a few years ago.

Now that I am properly retired, I fill my time with singing in several choirs, volunteering with the National Trust and I have recently become a school governor.  Never a dull moment!

Janet Hayes – DirectorJanet Hayes

I am passionate about international development, and I’ve worked in the sector for 18 years. I first lived in (and fell in love with) Africa during my gap year with World Horizons, where I supported projects in Francophone West Africa. After university, I worked for VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) and Oxford Policy Management, a consultancy firm specialising in providing policy advice to developing country governments and donors. Both roles involved frequent travel within Africa, including to Kenya and Uganda and a spell living in Tanzania. I love running Rafiki Thabo Foundation and seeing the incredible difference we are making to young people’s lives in Africa.

Janne Pilbeam – Donor and Corporate Partnership Development

After a corporate career in global client management and negotiations, Janne embraced the opportunity to join Rafiki Thabo, to return to her roots and passion for Africa and international development. A year living in Tanzania at 16 greatly impacted her academic choices, resulting in an MPhil at the University of Bath focusing on the importance of cultural awareness among stakeholders for sustainable international development projects.