WHEN Adam Williams went to Africa with his Australian fiancée Gen-evieve
in 2007, it started a chain reaction that has changed living conditions
for the Namatumba community of the Ugandan Abayudayan Jews.
Leeds-born Adam visited the tiny Namatumba community 18 months ago
after meeting a local villager by chance at a seder in Mbale with
The couple had initially fallen in love with the African region
during a year-long expedition before their marriage in 2007.
They packed in their professions for a new lifestyle in Kampala
just five months after their wedding in Melbourne.
And when Adam, a chartered accountant, and dentist Genevieve visited
Namatumba, it changed their lives for ever.
Today they live in Kampala, running voluntary initiatives including
a charity founded by Adam called Kippot for Hope.
"Kampala has around 15 international communities doing various
projects," said Adam, who went to Leeds Grammar School prior before
gaining a management science degree at UMIST.
"During Pesach 18 months ago, around 200 people were sitting around
a table at the central synagogue reciting the full seder service.
It was a very surreal experience.
"I was sitting next to Aron from a satellite community called
Namatumba and we got chatting.
"The Abayudayan community has a central community with six smaller
communities spread across 100 miles in the hills overlooking Mbale.
"The central community receives funding from Israel and the Diaspora,
but little support reaches satellite communities."
He continued: "Aron took me to his village and conditions were
very poor. He explained that they did not want handouts but could
make kippot and that is how Kippot for Hope started.
"Alongside sustainable projects we make large Sephardi and regular
"On a trip to Australia to visit Genvieve's family we promoted
Kippot for Hope and sold more than 100 kippot. With the money we
carried out two projects in the Namatumba community.
"We installed two glass windows in the synagogue to protect the
congregation from the seasonal rains and cultivated a one -acre
field and planted 10,000 pineapple seeds.
"Three times a year the community will harvest the pineapples
and sell them to the local market, providing them with a sustainable
source of income."
The history of Jews in the country started a century ago in the
east of Uganda when a tribal leader called Semei Kakungulu - after
reading the Old Testament and relating to its concepts - proclaimed
his tribe to be Jewish.
Visiting Jews taught the community about festivals, the calendar
and laws of kashrut. They were also instrumental in establishing
a school with the purpose of passing on Jewish knowledge and teaching
The population grew to 3,000, but in the 1970s dictator Idi Amin
forced the majority to convert to Christianity.
Around 300 Jews survived and today 1,000 live in the remote hills
of eastern Uganda in the shadow of Mount Elgon in simple mud brick
houses with no electricity or running water.
With the aim of improving the living conditions for villagers
in Namatumba, Kippot for Hope is realising dreams.
Other not-for-profit initiatives founded by the couple include
Ki Kati (a fair trade supporting a group of underprivileged tailors
and jewellery makers in Kampala), Art Aid Africa (art-based project
raising awareness of Ugandan artists and supporting a selection
of vulnerable groups and needy charities) and Alphabet Safari (based
on African animals profits go to children's and animals charities
in the UK).
Then there is Enlighten Africa, founded by Adam and a colleague
from Vermont who is now based in Uganda. It is a solar-power project
aiming to bring light to those not on the grid and replacing kerosene
The management of all the projects are run jointly by Adam and
Following a gap year when Adam lived on a kibbutz in Israel, his
humanitarian work began at university during summer holidays when
he spent time in developing nations.
Living on a tight budget, he always found time to visit the local
"I'm not particularly religious but visiting Jewish communities
is a connection to our lives," he said.
His journey to Kampala started after graduating at UMIST.
"Between university and work, I did a year backpacking in South
America, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and India," said Adam.
"I qualified in 2002 and took a year-long exchange in Melbourne
with BDO Stoy Hayward.
"I loved Australia and met Genevieve. I've always had a philanthropic
nature and love travel, as does Genevieve.
"When we got engaged, we travelled for a year to South America
and the Far East, but it was Africa that really spoke to us.
"Back in Australia we got married and then quit our jobs. I don't
miss being an accountant at all and have no regrets.
"We got to Kampala and after voluntary work started the initiatives
alongside Kippot for Hope."
Adam, whose parents are Judith Goldsborough and David Williams,
added: "Living in Kampala feels like real life. Relationships with
local people are more genuine and true to life."
Life in Kampala is very different to life back in Yorkshire and
He said: "We live in relative luxury compared to the majority
of the population as we have our own water, fridge and generator
if power goes. But it's not to the standards relatives and friends
Regarding the success of the Kippot For Hope project, Adam has
"Because of a barmitzvah order in London, we can now dig a bore
hole for running fresh water to the village," he said.
"Villagers now don't have to make a 10-mile round trip.
"The quality of life will be better, but toilet facilities are
still very basic and a couple of hundred sales would get four community
"This does not seem a huge amount, but it will drastically change
sanitation. The community is fully behind the project and further
down the line a cabbage plantation is coming up."
Adam added: "The biggest issues surround health because if someone
is sick there is no one in the community who can deal with an illness.
"There are no medical facilities so villagers have to go on the
back of a bicycle to get help.
"I've had messages from a community to tell me someone has died
when they could have been cured if the facilities were there.
"A future project is to get a couple of school-leavers to university
for medical training so that when they go back they can set up a
medical clinic. That will be fantastic, but it's for the future."
Adam visits the village every three months. The rest of his time
he spends running his initiatives.
"The days fly and efficiency is difficult because you can spend
a day on one big task," he said.
"Going to the post office can take a day with queues and because
something always happens on the way.
"There may be a presidential parade so you have to sit in a traffic
jam for hours. The future is difficult to predict but our work is
To contact Adam on any of the projects email firstname.lastname@example.org