Charity mission making history

PUBLISHED: 11:31 09 February 2006 | UPDATED: 14:35 12 May 2010

Royston Rotarians

Royston Rotarians

A GROUP of Royston Rotarians are setting off on a charity trip to work in Sierra Leone. Nine Rotary Club members and two of their wives are going on a 12-day project organised by the charity Mercy Ships. It is thought to be the first time a single Rotary

A GROUP of Royston Rotarians are setting off on a charity trip to work in Sierra Leone. Nine Rotary Club members and two of their wives are going on a 12-day project organised by the charity Mercy Ships. It is thought to be the first time a single Rotary Club has organised such a large charity trip. Peter Mitton, who has been responsible for organising the trip to the former British colony, said: "We decided to see if we could get a group just from the Rotary Club of Royston. We thought we might get four or five people, but much to my surprise we got 11." He said the group were paying all their own costs. "It's not like saying to 11 people, 'do you want to come to a meal down at the pub', it's a big commitment," he said. "We are quite chuffed that we've got so many people. It's not happened before in any rotary club in any part of the country - we've got about a quarter of the club going." Their main task in the West African country is to help build a Fistula Club - where young women who don't get proper medical care in childbirth can be treated. Julia Garfit works for Mercy Ships and is one of the two members' wives going on the trip. She said: "Our team are working at the Aberdeen clinic and Fistula centre. "Teams that have been there before us have already constructed the ground-floor, so we will be working on building the second-floor. "It was opened nearly a year ago as a place to treat women who suffer from vesico vaginal fistula." This condition is often known as Africa's silent epidemic and occurs after childbirth. Women end up incontinent and are often rejected by their families and communities as a result. An estimated 2 million women in Africa are affected by this condition. The Rotary Club's interest in Sierra Leone started after Mrs Garfit returned from a trip to the country and gave a presentation to members. This inspired Mr Mitton and Rotary member Mike Taylor to go to the country with the same charity two years ago, when they worked at a school near Makeni. Mr Mitton said: "We decided we really wanted to go back - one of our aims is to get back to the school and see the children." Club members will also be distributing stationary, donated by pupils at The Meridian School, Royston, to children of the school in Sierra Leone. Barry Rouse, finance manager at the school and Rotary Club member, organised the school donations. He said: "We've got hundreds of notebooks and pencils that have been donated by the pupils. "The schools there don't have things like whiteboards and computers like we do. It tends to be one or two classrooms with a blackboard. "Meridian has been very happy to be involved and I will be bringing back photos and doing presentations too, so the pupils can see what the children have - and haven't - got. "It will be educational for them, which is what I really want," he added.

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