Dear supporters Hay2Timbuktu, the charitable trust that has done so much to support Hay’s twin town – Timbuktu – is seriously considering whether we need to completely cease, or possibly pause, our activities. But we, the trustees, really want to know what you think. What does this special relationship with Timbuktu, and the knowledge that our little town has helped and transformed lives in Timbuktu, mean to you? Will you come along to the Swan for a chat, to let us know?

Date: Wednesday 16 March Time: 7pm

Place: The Swan Hotel, Church Street, Hay-on-Wye, HR3 5DQ

When Hay twinned with Timbuktu in Mali back in 2007, it even made Radio 4’s Today programme Over the next few years there were celebrations, exchange visits, appearances by Malian dignitaries at the Hay Festival, medical projects, artisan projects and contact between the schools and clinics of the two towns. As you know, there have been many project initiatives and development of relationships with the community of Timbuktu, as presented on this website. In recent years we’ve put girls through school, built new toilets and washing facilities at schools, and provided solar-rechargeable lamps so children can see to do their homework. We funded radio information about Covid-19, and sent supplies to help. But we’ve been struggling too. Whilst H2T has continued in its modest way to provide relief projects effectively and with financial prudence, the wider cultural aspects of the twinning have struggled because of the war-torn state of Mali. The last ten years have seen a destabilising of Malian society, an Islamist invasion in 2011, destruction of many historical artifacts, destruction of equipment that was provided to the schools by H2T and a UN intervention. What’s more, some of the sources of funding that have enabled us to deliver our larger projects (a small town like Hay can’t raise all the money from residents!) have now dried up, due either to changing priorities or government changes. Now, some longstanding trustees are stepping down from H2T and we need new people and new ideas to re-energise the project. Or indeed, an acknowledgment from the people of Hay that it may be time for Hay2Timbuktu to cease activities. We know the town of Hay has a great affection for the twinning and the Hay2Timbuktu Trust, so we’re looking to see whether some new trustees could be waiting in the wings. So please, do come along to the Swan at 7pm on 16 March (arrive in time to pick up a drink!) so we can hear the views of H2T’s many supporters, some going back well over a decade. Whilst the legal responsibility for H2T lies entirely in the hands of the trustees, this is a link between Hay Town Council and the people of Hay and we would welcome everyone’s views and some active involvement in giving Hay2Timbuktu a viable future.

Ideally, let us know if you are planning to come by emailing info@hay2timbuktu.org.

If you are unable to attend but have any thoughts or ideas to share, do please send them to us at the same email address.

Thanks, and hoping to see you

Gill Lloyd, Jackie Jones, Mel Prince, Nick Blayney, Sandra Skinner and Stephen Purse


Two towns brought together through a love of books

Hay2Timbuktu is a registered charity based in Hay-on-Wye, Wales. In 2007, Hay had the privilege of being twinned with Timbuktu in Mali. The two towns share a love of books – Hay being famous for its abundance of bookshops, and Timbuktu renowned for its ancient manuscripts.

A message of thanks from Timbuktu:

Since 2007 friendships have been made and those in both towns have benefited from understanding each others cultures and histories.

The people of Hay, and external funders, have been generous in their support of activities in Timbuktu.

We have been able to fund the education of girls in schools.

Provision of health clinics and training of midwives and funds were raised for a motorbike ambulance.

We have recently raised funds to build much needed toilet blocks in three schools in Timbuktu.

The installation of solar panel stations at our partner schools provides access to electric light into children’s homes around Timbuktu, enabling them to complete their home work after school.

Hay Primary School has become very involved in the life of those in Timbuktu and helped raise funds for ongoing projects while making links with the cuurriculum. Cake sales generated substantial funds and a sponsored darkness day when pupils in Hay worked for a whole day without electricity helped them to understand how Timbuktu students face difficulties in studying with limited or no electricity.

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Registered charity no: 1122706