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Our History

How one man's vision changed the hope and future of an African community

Tanzanian sunset
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Where it all began...

John Naumann grew up in an Anglican family on a farm near Toowoomba. After leaving school he studied at St Francis’ Theological Seminary in Brisbane graduating in 1966. After his ordination, he worked in several parishes in Brisbane and other parts of Queensland before moving to take up the position at St Stephen’s in Billings, Montana USA in 1989. In 1992, St. Stephen’s invited a Tanzanian minister and his wife to visit. Both were schoolteachers doing postgraduate work. Subsequently, St. Stephen’s began helping sponsor students who couldn’t afford an education and in 2000, John spent part of his sabbatical leave in Tanzania.

It was then he realised how desperately the people there needed water. On his return to the USA he started raising money to build deep-water wells to supply uncontaminated water. Gradually it became possible to introduce drip irrigation to help families and the local community raise vegetables to improve their nutrition, and so began the vision for the the Amani Centre. In 2005 John left the USA to settle permanently in Tanzania to dedicate himself to supporting and continuing his work with the community there.  

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Image by Diana Polekhina

Just prior to Fr John’s arrival, post retirement, to live in Tanzania and grow the Amani Development Organisation, the Hearts for Africa Trust was formed in Australia to support his work, 30 September 2005. The initial Trustees were Fr John, Alison Cameron Jackson and Mary Josephine McVeigh. Ian William Donaldson, a chartered accountant who facilitated the Deed of Trust, became a Trustee in 2006.

Hearts for Africa was formed in the heart of Alison Jackson, who had been a parishioner at Pine Rivers, Brisbane, when Fr John was there. She commenced this outreach to Africa following the death of her son Peter, and in recognition of the importance of Fr John’s work. Her friend Mary McVeigh joined her in
the enterprise. Mary retired in 2007 due to ill health and was replaced as Trustee by Helen Keith who had established a thrift shop to support Amani. From inception, Ian Donaldson AM, a parishioner at Sunnybank when Fr John was the priest, took on the tasks of setting up the legal structure of the Trust and managing
it as Chairman until 2015, when forced to retire due to ill health.

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Founding Trustee: Alison Jackson

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Founding Chairman: Ian Donaldson AM

Tribute to Founding Members

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