HANDS AROUND THE WORLD

HANDS AROUND THE WORLD seeks to help vulnerable children around the world, encouraging enthusiastic and well-prepared volunteers to offer practical help, skill-sharing, support and friendship.
Oct 8, 2014

October 2014 Update

One of the lovely Children in Affame
One of the lovely Children in Affame
An enduring feature of our projects in Benin since 2001 - without a break - has been our determination to give volunteer support to the African teams of volunteers in the remote rural region of Affame, Benin. Our African hosts have carefully identified the most pressing needs within their community following consultation with local chiefs and representatives of elected groups.
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We started by helping them to restore the residence for nurses of the Health Centre (which had been virtually destroyed by fire) necessitating their use of beds in the Centre, taking up much needed space there. We moved on to the installation of water and electricity in the Health Centre. This facility was sustained for another eight years until, unfortunately, the flat roof yielded to the tropical rainstorms. But good news!  The Health Authority, subsequently built a new Health Centre acknowledging the joint efforts of both volunteer groups. 
 
Next we were approached by the Head Teacher of the Dogba school, situated across the river Oueme from Affame. Three traditionally built classrooms had been washed away during the rainy months and help was needed to support the building of replacements which might endure the annual flooding. These buildings on stilts are now fully operational. 
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It was during this time that we came to understand the plight of orphaned youngsters in relation to school attendance. School fees had to be paid, uniforms were required at secondary level and difficult daily journeys of up to 15km had to be made by many.  A UK Charity - Inside Out Trust - a 'prison-based' organisation donated ninety cycles one year to help with these journeys. Understandably with such physical exertions it was decided that a daily lunch would also be needed if the young people were to get the maximum benefit from their efforts.
   
Currently there are more than one hundred orphans in the programme, with ten now at University, sixteen have completed or are pursuing apprenticeships and the great majority are attending schools or colleges. 
 
MANY THANKS INDEED TO ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE MADE THIS POSSIBLE WITH YOUR MOST GENEROUS SUPPORT.
 
Earlier this year five HATW volunteers  - Dick, David, Mary, Guillaume and Adeline - were in Affame assisting with the construction of the orphan rescue and training centre Adjidole which is now nearing completion. The last full Global Giving report  was submitted by them in July and included the additional element of the work done by Mary - a recently retired Ophthalmologist. The African team have subsequently taken twenty-seven persons to the specialist hospital in Paracou where a variety of conditions have been/are being successfully treated. Plastering, painting and the fitting of doors and windows remain to be achieved, and all financial assistance towards these goals will be most gratefully received. 
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Progress at Adjidole has been remarkable given the amazing weather extremes, the well-drilling to a depth in excess of thirty metres was successful and the training facilities for Carpentry, Red-Oil production, Motor-Vehicle Maintenance, Bread-making and Tailoring are due to follow-on when the Centre is ready to receive its' first residents. Soon our focus will be to furnish and equip the Centre. Dieudonne, Albert, Jean, Felicienne, Delphine and Blandine will be the initial staffing team and Shadrack, the local baker will be the first with a training responsibility. It is estimated that an annual sum of $15,000 would sustain this level of staffing.
 
Our volunteers Guillaume and Adeline, from France, are aiming to continue their association with the projects during 2015 and they recently revisited the Hands Around The World base in Monmouth and met up with me in Lancashire too. Their skills with computers in particular will be a great asset.
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We look forward to lots of exciting new developments in the coming years! Please continue your support, and watch this space!
Dogba Village scene
Dogba Village scene
The Adjidole Centre starts to go up 2014
The Adjidole Centre starts to go up 2014
Sep 30, 2014

September 2014 Update

Scottish Dancing Indian-style!
Scottish Dancing Indian-style!

There are some activities that are universal and dancing is one of them. When I visited the New Life Centre School in February there were two occasions when dancing united two groups that have grown up in such different circumstances.

The first was when our group of 4 visitors from the UK attempted to teach some of the older students Scottish dancing.

After the usual giggling and awkwardness as some boys had to partner other boys and hold hands, (also universal), we realised just how much fun can be gained from music and dancing. We had 2 lessons to teach the Gay Gordons, no small feat, as the walking backwards proved impossible to some of the students.

As I was instructing from the side I watched with amusement as one of the boys, a typical macho type with a great sense of rhythm, refused to hold another boy’s hands. He came to stand with me but he understood very quickly how the backward walking should be performed. Such a dilemma! What should he do? Lose face and enter the group again to ‘show them how it should be done’, or stand on the side knowing he could be top student in this activity?

He couldn’t resist and was soon demonstrating with me, a natural performer!

The second occasion was on our usual visit to one of the families in the school. This was my fourth visit to this family. This extended family of grandparents, parents, and children with numerous cousins and aunties and uncles offered the generosity of their simple fare and then two of the young girls started dancing for us. In a spontaneous moment, which I no longer encounter in the UK, we all started to dance, such a joyous affirmation of our delight in being invited and our hosts’ inclusivity.

We all held hands and danced around. I looked at my daughter and another member of the group of similar age, mid twenties, to see if this unusual display would embarrass them. On the contrary they were relishing this innocent pleasure. They both believed it was a highlight of the visit.

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All dancing together
All dancing together
Sep 17, 2014

September 2014 Update

A Classroom in need of attention!
A Classroom in need of attention!

On November the 7th 2014, a team of three volunteers will return with me for a few weeks to Muko School in Bugarama. Once again we will be working with local people, doing painting, plastering, and laying cement floors.

One major aim this year is to install windows and doors to the oldest block of classrooms. At the moment these only have small holes in the walls for ventilation, and this (along with their tin roofs) makes these rooms not a very nice environment for children to study.

Rainwater catchment tanks that were purchased last year are still to be installed - it's such a shame to see all the water going to waste! These tanks will provide water for washing hands after using the long-drop toilets (more toilets and better hygiene are also priorities!).  

Teaching English vocabulary and grammar is much in demand and therefore high on our agenda this year. At least one (maybe two) of the team will be conducting classes for both teachers and students on a daily basis.  

Each volunteer has raised enough money to pay all their own expenses, but we do still need help in the way of donations to pay local labourers who work alongside us and also to purchase necessary building materials.

Donated monies are all accounted for very carefully on this very worthwhile project. If you have already donated in the past I thank you, but more is always welcomed and appreciated.

Please do help if you can!

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Just a few of the lovely Kids!
Just a few of the lovely Kids!
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