Aid workers Paul Lafferty and Frank Devine braved the outbreak of the Ebola virus in west Africa to carry out a successful mission to The Gambia.
Paul from Bellshill and Frank from Mossend returned to Saint John’s School for the Deaf in Serrekunda as Project Gambia: People Feeding People delivered at least six months of desperately needed food.
This is part of their commitment to supporting the school feeding programme, the objective of which is to provide a hot and nutritious meal for the children at their place of learning.
Project Gambia also delivered 800 desperately needed hearing aids for the children in one of the world’s poorest countries.
Indeed, school principal Daniel Mendy said the donations from Scotland were the biggest the school had ever received from an outside body.
Paul and Frank had been fundraising for over a year to raise as much money as possible for the school of over 250 pupils who have a range of hearing disabilities.
Indeed, less than two weeks before the guys flew out to Africa they were delighted to have been informed by charity commissioners OSCR that their fundraising efforts to support children in Africa over the past three years was to be formally recognised with charitable status.
Paul said: “This was our third aid mission to The Gambia, but the second year that our focus has been on assisting the children and teachers at Saint John’s School for the Deaf and our most successful yet.
“We have delivered on all our commitments to the school and more.
“We have provided the financial aid to continue the school feeding programme for at least six months and delivered 800 hearing aids to the school kindly donated by a consultant here in Scotland.
“We also brought learning and playing materials and resources for the children that are commonplace in western societies but are really appreciated by our friends in The Gambia, including toothbrushes and toothpaste, skipping ropes, small toys, football shirts, pens and pencils and other items we felt would be welcomed by the pupils and teachers.”
Paul and Frank want to express their gratitude to the following for their support: The Hoochie Coochie Club (Newcastle), Disco Inferno Whitburn (Sandy Jack), The Den Social Club (Glasgow), Deep Fried Soul (Dumfries), The Murray Family (Mossend), Jason Higgins (Wishaw), Ann Crossar (Blantyre), Mary Teresa Devine (Mossend), Kevin Kane (London), Charlie Parkinson (Bellshill), W M Q Building Services (Baby McArthur), The Laird Family (Glasgow), Terry Dunn (Motherwell), Alex, Gerry, Mark and Des (Blantyre), Lorna Gordon (Bellshill), Lanarkshire Law Practice (Anne and Andy Brophy), and in memory of Colette Matheson, The Dunsmore Family (Larkhall), The Carlin Family (Holytown), Brian and Janice Lafferty, Culdesac Bar (Coatbridge), Gerry Mays (Bellshill), Reflex Signs (Airdrie), and Aldo Moravcik and Anna Walls (Uddingston).
On the current situation regarding the Ebola virus, Frank said: “The Gambia is Ebola free but one could not help but notice the devastating knock on effects of the virus.
“As well as visitor numbers down by 72 per cent with hunger evident in the areas where we visited we were shocked to hear of the devastating effects of the virus on a fellow aid worker from Sierra Leone who had lost two brothers to Ebola.”
Paul added: “The social condition we witnessed made us all the more determined and we began planning for next year’s aid mission during our time there.”