Guest Speaker – Alan Wolstencroft, Rotary Club of Banbury

28th October 2014

Alan Wolstencroft spoke to our club about his work in Sierra Leone.

Alan is a member of Banbury Rotary Club and has spoken at District conferences on a number of occasions. He was first introduced to Africa through the Rotary Mission challenge run with the Mercy Ships charity in Sierra Leone in 2005. This was an eleven day trip to build a hostel for a fistula clinic near the capital Freetown. This hostel was renamed the Rotary Hostel for Hope in 2006, and in 2010, the running of the hostel was passed to the Freedom from Fistula charity and is now a maternity hospital.

Alan returned in 2006 to build a covered market for Aberdeen town, as well as a classroom for Christian Hope school in the same area. School uniforms and football kits have also been provided for the school. In 2007, money was raised to provide 6 further classrooms and toilets for Christian Hope school over the next 2 years, as well as helping to establish a community school near the international airport. In 2011, the basement for the 6 classrooms was converted into a usable space to enable more activities to be carried out at the school. Alan also provided funding for the teachers.

In 2012, clubs from District 1090 provided funding for 125 Aquarolls, which enabled local women to bring water to the village by hand rather than having to carry it on their heads. A playground was also built at Christian Hope school. Alan also worked with another school in the area, Waterloo, to provide them with a toilet block. In 2014 10 classrooms, a well and laundry room were planned for Waterloo school as well as further classrooms for Christian Hope school. Work was started on the classrooms before the rainy season. Work was planned to restart in June but the outbreak of Ebola has resulted in all work been put on hold.

Alan has worked with a local pastor throughout these projects and uses local workmen to complete any work. Any projects need a well thought out proposal before he will fund them and he uses his local contacts to keep an eye on any work carried out to ensure it is completed on time and all funds are used for the intended projects. £100,000 worth of work in the area has been funded by District 1090 and other donors through Alan’s efforts since 2005.

Alan also works with Goodwill and Growth in Africa UK, who are based in Oxford, on projects in South Africa, but this area was not covered in his talk.

Alan also discussed the impact of Ebola on the area. He has lost friends in the outbreak and others are suffering hardship as schools have been closed, so teachers are not currently being paid. The long term effects of the disease are yet to be calculated due to the effects on food supply and infrastructure, as well as the personal tragedies of the families who have lost relatives in the outbreak. Unrest is growing in the area so there may well be political implications as well.

The club donated a cheque to Alan for his work in Sierra Leone.

KG 09/11/14