Harpenden Africa charity begins work on school

A CHARITY set up several years ago to support a Ugandan school is going from strength to strength.

Since it was first formed in 2007, Harpenden Spotlight on Africa (HSoA) has raised funding to support the school in Musoto, Uganda, and thanks to a contribution from a local trust, work has now started on a new school building to replace the broken down structure in which the younger children are being taught.

It is due to be completed at the end of August and HSoA is also providing money to sink two boreholes, one in the school and the other in the village itself.

In addition, HSoA is running a GOAT appeal to purchase land and buy 50 female goats and two studs for which a goatherd will be employed and the animals given free to the poorest families to use for the production of milk and fertiliser as well breeding purposes.

To ensure the project is self-sustaining, the third goat they breed will be returned to the herd.

The next project is to initiate a community health programme which will train up 50 local people to educate Musoto families in healthcare to combat Aids and malaria.

And in the longer term the aim is to get a community health centre built in Musoto with nurses, midwives and doctors on call. Spearheading that particular endeavour is Harpenden GP Dr Bethan Rees, and her barrister husband Hefin, who is chairman of HSoA.

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The vision behind the formation of HSoA originally came from Jean Lale who was concerned about the imbalance of wealth between Harpenden and the poor African community.

She called a number of meetings and after several months she sent out a questionnaire asking for seven officers to come forward which successfully resulted in a board of trustees. In its first year HSoA raised �13,000 and last year it reached �55,000, funds which trustee Robin Nisbet stressed, “reaches the coalface.”

Next month Richard Okotel, HSoA’s man on the ground in Musoto, is visiting Harpenden for three weeks and will be special guest at the charity’s annual meeting.

He will also be talking at assemblies at several Harpenden primary schools as well as meeting with local churches, the town council and Rotary and Round Table.

HSoA raises money by a number of means. The Friends group contribute monthly by direct debit and a year ago a Business Friends of HSoA group was formed and has two members in Harpenden, the Jarvis Group and Two By Two, a company which sells African holidays.

In addition there are a number of fundraising events planned, the next in the pipeline being a big band concert by The Mob at 8pm next Saturday, June 4, at Harpenden High Street Methodist Church for which tickets at �12 with concessions �10 are available from Creature Comforts in Vaughan Road, Harpenden Building Society in Station Road or from 01582 715440.

Further information about HSoA can be found at www.hsoa.org.uk