A GROUP of dedicated Motherwell volunteers surrendered life’s little luxuries during two weeks of hard graft in Uganda this summer.
The eight-strong team from Kings Church on Airbles Road headed to the African country to install a clean water system at a school.
As reported in the Times recently, the travellers raised a remarkable £14,000 to cover the cost of the entire project as well as their own expenses.
The parishioners - Louis Howson and daughter Joanna Howson, Alan Shilliday, Murray McMillan, Bruce Moyes, Robert Harvey and daughter Lesley Harvey and Kenny Anderson - got stuck in at St Paul’s Primary School in Rukungiri in the west of the country.
In an area of extreme poverty, the school provides an education for 600 children in conjunction with UK-based charity Christian Partners in Africa.
The group’s visit came about after Louis visited the school last year at the invitation of the charity and witnessed the pupils’ hardship for himself.
He discovered that all of the children had to wash their hands from just one tap that was attached to the base of a 25-litre water butt.
After hearing of his experience, the church set about fundraising in February, hosting everything from a royal wedding reception and talent show to coffee mornings and car boot sales for the cause.
And within a matter of months, the team had jetted off with the aim of reducing the spread of disease and illness with the installation of a rainwater harvesting system.
The volunteers landed in Kampala and spent a day there before enduring an eight-hour journey to their base.
On arriving at the school, they were greeted by staff and pupils and immediately got down to business.
The hard-working team installed five 5,000-litre tanks and replaced 50 meters of guttering to maximise the collection of clean rain water.
They then fed this into a pipe system to supply the washing facilities, ably supported along the way by local labour.
During their trip, the group also spent time at the Caring Hands project, which supports women affected by AIDS and HIV, as well as at a home for orphaned and abandoned children.
Project leader Louis told the Times about their experiences. He said: “We had a very fulfilling time in Uganda. The team worked well and despite one or two setbacks, provided clean water facilities to enable the children to wash before meals.
“Some team members had the opportunity to visit the homes of the children and they were warmly received.
“The parents and guardians of the children, some who live in poverty, were thrilled to welcome the visitors into their home.
“Although the team were focused on the delivery of the washing facilities, all of the members commented on how well they were received and the great welcome they were given.
“Who knows, but there may be another team going out to provide further facilities in that area and then we can improve the lives of more children and adults.”
He added: “Perhaps we cannot change the world, but if we can change a child’s life then all the effort will have been worth it.
“We would like to thank everyone who supported our fundraising efforts which contributed towards the team being sent out.”