African trip for village church group

Members of the Inglewhite Church group with locals during the trip to Sierra Leone
Members of the Inglewhite Church group with locals during the trip to Sierra Leone
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An eight-strong party from Inglewhite Church has returned from an eye-opening trip to Sierra Leone.

The group, including Pastor John Irwin and the Foot family from Chipping, went to Africa to see the work of Preston-based International Aid Trust first hand.

Pastor Irwin said: “The longer you are there the more overwhelming the needs become and you face the question of where you should actually start to help in order to make a difference.

“The long civil war that ended 10 years ago has left a devastating effect on the life of the nation, and despite vast mineral wealth it will take a long time for the ordinary people to see benefit in terms of housing, jobs, health and education. Even clean water and electricity are not commonly available to all.

“We were greatly impressed by the local minister Michael and his wife, Alice, who oversee the work and distribution of aid from IAT.

“As headmistress of the junior school, Alice and her team teach and feed up to 500 children a day – for many this would be their only proper meal.

“I met the local head man who has links with the school. He had six wives, 26 children (20 still alive) and over 50 grandchildren. He owned a relatively small area with a basic mud brick house and a few simple outbuildings.

“He had over 35 of his family members staying with him, so I no longer consider my two boys sharing a bedroom a big problem!

“As we sat under his mango tree out of the sun he found it amusing to hear I only had one wife and three children to look after.

“For me the great challenge is to see people living lives of faith and compassion when they have so little for themselves.

“We will continue our link with the New Hope Church in Lungi and, hopefully, be able to support them with some one-off practical projects and maybe some regular support for staffing needs.

“We have returned with many wonderful and challenging memories and I expect it will enrich our lives and open our hearts for many years to come.”

Lucy Foot, 13, and her brother Oscar, 12, both enjoyed the trip too; Oscar speaking of his fun playing games with other children and helping teach music, sport and art, while Lucy particularly enjoyed meeting “great people” and hearing their stories.

Mum Wendy, 36, told of starting a gardening project with mums from the school, similar to one she had commenced at Brabin’s School, Chipping.