Hartlepool-born Absolute Radio presenter's charity mission to help farmers in remote African village

Pete Donaldson with Thulani Sibanda.
Pete Donaldson with Thulani Sibanda.

Hartlepool-born radio presenter Pete Donaldson visited a remote Zimbabwean village as part of a charity fundraising push.

Pete travelled with UK-based poverty group Practical Action to help Zimbabwean farmers become self-sufficient in the face of severe droughts.

Pete Donaldson during his trip.

Pete Donaldson during his trip.

He visited Gwanda and Bulilima, two of the poorest districts in Zimbabwe, where as many as a quarter of households face the threat of hunger because farmers lack the tools, seeds, knowledge and skills to maximise harvests.

During their visit, Pete and his Absolute Radio crew saw life-changing work that combines smart solutions, skills training, solar-powered irrigation and improved seed varieties enabling farmers in Zimbabwe to double their food production and increase their income.

Thulani Sibanda is a widow living in Bulilima with her family. She survives on the food she grows on her farm and a meagre social welfare food allowance. Recently, droughts and unpredictable rains have meant that her crops have failed. She’s unable to grow enough food to provide for her family and, with many others in the community in the same position, she can’t find alternative employment.

Pete said: “It was an honour to be invited into Thulani’s home and to experience everyday life in Bulilima. Helping her to do her morning chores is something I will never forget. I can honestly say I have never been to a more remote or drier place in my life and it is difficult to imagine how anything could grow successfully there.

“Yet as we got to know each other better, I saw just how determined she was to succeed and then saw later in the trip that with the right tools, knowledge and technology people like Thulani really can flourish.

“What really appeals to me is that Practical Action recognise that people want to help themselves. They look at what the problem is and then come up with simple solutions that work together to create long_term change. I’m really proud to be playing my part in supporting this work and talking about it to everyone who will listen!”

Last year he embarked on another mission to Kenya with Practical Action to record the station’s first ever programme focusing on development issues.


Practical Action launches its Planting for Progress appeal on December 8.

The organisation is asking the UK public to donate and help poor Zimbabwean farmers double their harvests.

Every pound donated before March 8, 2019, will be matched pound for pound by the UK Government.

Rachel Hudson, director of fundraising at Practical Action, said: “Pete and the team experienced first-hand the realities of trying to make a living when coping with the impacts of climate change and the incredible changes that this appeal will make.

"We are so grateful for their support and we can’t wait to hear the broadcasts and for Pete to share the experience with all his listeners, as we think it will really strike a chord with them.”

To find out more or to make a donation to the appeal visit www.practicalaction.org/plantingforprogress.