IN a month’s time I will travel to Uganda to report on the work of East African Playgrounds, a charity which aims to change the lives of children across East Africa by developing school environments, sports and play facilities.
I first met Carla Powell and Tom Gill, who run the charity, last year in my role as a reporter with the Dorking Advertiser. Carla is originally from Brockham, near Dorking, and I wrote a piece about the charity’s work which was published in the Advertiser in December.
My interest in the charity started to grow and I suggested that I could join Tom and Carla in Uganda – where they live from May to October every year – and get involved with their teams of volunteers building playgrounds. They were very keen on the idea and we decided to launch a campaign – Advertiser for Africa – to raise as much money as possible for the charity and strengthen the links between Mole Valley and Uganda.
Over the last six months we have enlisted our local schools, sports clubs and community organisations to help us along. They have organised football matches, star jumps, cake sales, snorkelling workshops, apprentice-style challenges and much more, and so far we have raised more than £1,200.
We even roped in our own colleagues to help out, running several office sweepstakes during Euro 2012 and the Olympic Games, with staff from the Dorking Advertiser, Croydon Advertiser and Surrey Mirror competing for a share of the cash.
A charity quiz in June, which was attended by more than 50 of our local friends and contacts, raised more than £400 to fund my trip.
I have been in regular contact with Tom, Carla and a few of my fellow volunteers, who have spent the summer working hard over in Uganda, and they have provided updates on how the projects are going.
When I am out there I hope to report back on how our money is helping the charity, along with getting stuck in to the final project in Jinja.