The tragic news of the death of Christopher Shale is a great loss to Survivors Fund (SURF), as well as all the survivors that his work has helped in Rwanda.
Christopher was a modest man who never sought credit or praise for his tireless work – whether for the Conservative Party, or for his many charitable interests. However, I wish to take this opportunity to put on record how much he did to support the cause of survivors in recent years.
Since 2007, when he first volunteered on the inaugural visit of Project Umubano, the two-week international social action programme of the UK Conservative Party, he has supported the work of Survivors Fund (SURF). This is in a personal capacity, sponsoring young survivors through university, which has involved more than just providing funding for their education but also providing personal guidance and support.
He has truly made his mark though as co-ordinator of the Project Umubano community group each year. His greatest achievement with SURF, and his lasting legacy with us, was his involvement in leading the development of the Education into Employment programme which is now supporting hundreds of young survivors to secure jobs on graduation from university. Without his enthusiasm and belief in the programme, it would never have been extended beyond the original two week phase of Project Umubano. However, Christopher raised the seed funding, interviewed personally for a project manager, and has continued to provide guidance ever since.
We had been developing a new project for this summer, a venture fund for survivor’s organisations in Rwanda, which builds on the successful capacity-building programme last year which Christopher writes about here.
We hope that this fund will be another legacy that can be attributed to the boundless enthusiasm, energy and commitment of Christopher. His untimely death is a great loss to Survivors Fund (SURF), our partner organisations and the survivors we represent.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Christopher’s family and friends at this time.