Volunteers take Sierra Leone to heart

PUBLISHED: 06:28 16 March 2006 | UPDATED: 14:36 12 May 2010

Liz Beardwell talks to youngsters

Liz Beardwell talks to youngsters

A GROUP of Royston Rotarians have returned from a life-changing charity trip to Sierra Leone. Peter Mitton, who organised the trip with Mercy Ships, told The Crow: It was an excellent and rewarding trip, but we feel there is still so much need in the cou

Mike and Jim fix a mosquito screen

A GROUP of Royston Rotarians have returned from a life-changing charity trip to Sierra Leone. Peter Mitton, who organised the trip with Mercy Ships, told The Crow: "It was an excellent and rewarding trip, but we feel there is still so much need in the country. "It has so little that we felt quite helpless, but at the end of the day every little bit helps, that's the only way to look at it." The group of nine were based in Freetown where they assisted in building new medical facilities. For much of the trip they worked on constructing a new building at the Aberdeen Clinic and Fistula Centre - where young women who did not get proper medical care during childbirth can be treated. Mr Mitton said they worked in "very hot" conditions, with temperatures constantly in the 90s. He said that the building will be used to accommodate additional patients and provide on-site accommodation for staff. "The work we did included the movement of heavy concrete blocks, the decoration of some of the ground-floor and the team also worked in the clinic," he said. The work may have been hard, but Mr Mitton believes the trip was worthwhile. He said: "None of us can really begin to imagine where to start, but we've got to start somewhere and I think going over there to help goes one hell of a long way." It is the second time that Mr Mitton has been on a charity trip to the former British colony. Two years ago he worked at a school near Makeni with fellow club member, Mike Taylor. He visited the school again this time and said it was "wonderful" to go back. "We went back there one morning and took the whole group," said Mr Mitton. "It was wonderful, me and Mike Taylor went into one of the classrooms and said, 'who recognises us?' And lots of hands went up." He said it was satisfying to see the work they helped complete two years ago being put to good use. "It was great to get back and see how they have developed workshops. They are actually doing something for these children so they can gain employment when they leave school, so it's excellent." While at the school, the Rotary Club also distributed stationary which had been collected and donated by students at The Meridian School, Royston But despite all the charity work which is being undertaken, Mr Mitton thinks the future still looks bleak for the area. He said: "Really nothing has improved since we were there two years ago. There's no infrastructure, a lack of roads and electricity and security is always a bit iffy. "It's a lovely country, everyone is so friendly, and it's got so much potentially going for it, someone has just got to put a few million pounds into it." Mr Mitton said it was an "immeasurable experience that you can't get as a tourists" and he believes the whole group felt that way. He continued: "Everywhere the group went the welcome was overwhelming, with so much appreciation for the goods we brought from the UK. "While there can be feelings of helplessness, in that so much needs to be done, at least the Rotary Club of Royston has, in their little way, helped.

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