Local Harpenden residents Wendy Howson and Caroline Swanson, together with Rory Scales and Joan Thomas from nearby Codicote, have just come back from Uganda with messages of thanks for our town.
The communities near the town of Mbale in Eastern Uganda are supported by Harpenden Spotlight on Africa (HSoA), a local development charity that has been working in the area for almost 10 years.
HSOA funds projects that promote education, improve health, provide access to clean water and drive economic development. Most of its donations have come from residents, schools, businesses, churches, clubs and trusts around Harpenden. Their generosity has helped build a school and train health workers to prevent common killers such as malaria, cholera and HIV/Aids.
HSOA has also been working with Rothamsted Research to increase crop yields for farmers using an environmentally friendly pest control system. The scheme has dramatically raised output of staple crops while providing valuable feed for animals and HSOA’s pilot fish farm. Alice, a widow who received a goat from HSOA, said: “I am very grateful that people so far away from Uganda are helping us. I had nothing when my husband died. But with my goats I have been able to send my children to school and I have also bought a cow.”
Caroline Swanson, one of HSOA's trustees, said: “Our overriding aim is to help people help themselves by giving them the means to earn a living. One of the most heart-warming things we learnt was how people have been able to start their own savings schemes with the money they now earn.”
“'It costs as little as £10 a month to feed and educate a child so we're appealing to anyone who can make a regular donation. The money we receive makes a real difference to people's lives but we could always do more.”
HSOA is currently run entirely by volunteers and the four volunteers paid for their own travel. 95p of every pound donated to HSOA goes straight to Uganda.