Team volunteers to help those in need in Africa

Richard Homewood and Matt Lockwood
Richard Homewood and Matt Lockwood

A BAND of volunteers have returned from Africa after spending time working on projects to improve the lives of residents in Hastings’ namesake in Sierra Leone.

The 20-man group, made up of teachers, engineers, environmental and health professionals, left 1066 Country in the middle of last month and returned this week.

Coordinated by the Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link (HSLFL), the visit involved work on several projects.

Derek Tomblin, retired civil engineer, said: “Our twin town continues its struggle to recover from the ravages of the Rebel War in Sierra Leone more than a decade ago. It was really good to return to continue our work, helping with this recovery in a variety of ways.”

Teachers in the group taught in schools around Hastings in Sierra Leone, many of whom gave up their half-term break. Teachers from Sierra Leone will return to England in May to gain further experience of UK teaching methods.

Mr Tomblin supervised a project to dig wells at two of the schools to provide a year round water supply. Mandy Hinxman, from Little Ridge School, is coordinating fundraising for the well at Jui Lower School and Alison Day and Corrine Harris, of Dudley Infants School, for the well at Edest Nursery and Prep School. The team also continued work on the extension to the Health Centre, which began two years ago.

Richard Homewood, along with Matt Lockwood, and Cllr Nigel Sinden, worked on an environmental project to reduce deforestation, recycle waste and reduce ill health linked to smoke inhalation. This has developed out of a waste management project begun by Mr Homewood on previous visits. It produces methane gas from organic and food waste which can be used for cooking and heating water.

Mr Homewood said: “Even after five visits, the emotion, excitement and the warmth of the welcome never changes. It just makes you want to go back and do more to try to make a little difference to the lives of the wonderful people you meet. It really helps you put life into perspective.”

Roger Mitchell, HSLFL chairman, said: “We have all returned, emotionally and physically drained with the satisfaction that we have made a difference, however small, to the daily life of our friends in Sierra Leone.”