In the last year we have reactivated our charity work through our long standing charity Hearts and Hands for Africa. After many years of dedicated hard work and care my dear friend Dr Cary Rasoff stepped back from his full time operations in Africa to assist his elderly parents in his home in Chicago. This left us a little unsure of the future of our charity which we have always ensured worked through hand to hand help, support and donation without any chance that our funds would go astray or not used with the best intention. Last year we were delighted to connect up with an old friend of mine Rick Mills who apart from his volunteer work with The British Red Cross had established a connection with a village, school and orphanage in Uganda. So we have gone into partnership with him to support and expand his work of setting up solar panels and lights to help the village and the children in their studies and to give general assistance and support to underprivileged children in the orphanage and the school.
Rick has now just come back from a trip to Zimbabwe to set up more of our work by supporting a village and its orphans that had been brought to our attention by a refugee from that village who is currently living in UK. We started by paying the school fees for some of the orphans but we needed to get a face to face connection established so Rick went there to find out what they need and what we can do to help. He came to an agreement with the local leaders that we will assist the Runyararo Children’s Project who help the disadvantaged children, the sick, orphans and the undernourished of the village. These are the aspects of the project that will receive our support:
- Education – Pay for the orphans’ schooling books and uniforms
- Garden – vegetable plot – proceeds go to support the children
- Install a pump to bring water from a nearby lake to the plot for year round irrigation
- Buy milling machines for the maize
- Lighting – install solar lights in the village homes and the school
- Water – help with water accessibility
- Chicken projects – paying for chicks and feed
- Food to fatten cattle
The local villagers and children are already working the vegetable plot and raising chickens and cattle so that over time we expect that the support project will pay for the school fees. This is a major aspect of our charity credo – “Helping people help themselves” – in other words true empowerment.
In both Uganda and Zimbabwe village projects we fund Spontaneous Acts of Kindness – the latest being a wheel chair for Jenny, a girl with cerebral palsy who crawled her way around the village in Uganda and a prosthetic leg for a young man suffering from depression since he lost his leg in an accident. He is now fully recovered, feeling great and walking around the village with pride.
The funds in Hearts and Hands have so far come from my family, friends, clients, my work and students but we are starting a fund raising push to get money specifically for the pump in the village in Zimbabwe so that the women will no longer have to hand (and head) carry the water from the river to the truck then distribute it around the land. With a pump (cost £3000 max) we can set up a watering system that will make their lives easier and give all year-round irrigation for the vegetable plot. Any funds we raise over the required amount will go to the other projects and be overseen by Rick.
If you would like to get involved with fund raising Brenda will be organising fund raising events and raffles etc. so watch out for updates on these on our newsletter. Contact Brenda [email protected].
Over the years I have questioned the validity and effectiveness of charity as it so often comes across as patronising and can be disempowering – only truly effective as a means to raise one’s own sense of worth. However, I do feel that a kindness and a helping hand to assist those who are either unable to help themselves or who need some support to help themselves is a mutually beneficial exchange of love, empowerment and positive energies. The work that Rick is doing involves the efforts of the villagers themselves and has no strings attached – the very best way to share our love and kindness.
Love and big hugs to you