Kate Adie our Patron

Kate Adie our Patron

HANDS AROUND THE WORLD is privileged to have Kate Adie OBE, well-known to BBC listeners and viewers, as its patron. The incredible commitment, intensity and perceptiveness that she gives to her job spills over into her role of patron.

This is her message on behalf of HANDS AROUND THE WORLD:

“It is a fact of life, sadly, that for most of us in the affluent West the problems of the Third World seem literally another world away. For many millions of people the ravages of disease, hunger, ignorance and poverty are the only life they know.

HANDS AROUND THE WORLD is dedicated to tackling the problems of people in the poorest countries by offering practical help to relieve suffering. Its volunteers are ordinary people, committed to doing whatever they can by giving their time and skills, their love and compassion, working side by side with local people to achieve something lasting and worthwhile – something money alone can never do.

What makes HANDS AROUND THE WORLD different from other voluntary organisations is its avowed aim to develop ongoing enlightened friendships between people and communities, in the belief that some of the world’s inequalities and unfairness can be addressed through the actions of returning volunteers. For it is only someone who has lived and worked in a rural African hospital, shared the deprivations of life in an Indian village, or experienced the squalor endured by families in a Brazilian favela who can return to the comfort of their own home incensed by what they have seen, determined to do something about it.”

A favela house in Brazil

Kate Adie recently visited two of our volunteers at the project where they are helping in Kenya, and wrote this article on her return:

When you see the scale of deprivation in Nairobi’s slums, there’s always a moment when the mud, poverty and sheer misery of existence seems overwhelming.

It’s clear that a monumental about-turn is needed to solve the complex problems attached to the decrepit shacks housing more than a million people. However, there is no point in waiting for the corrupt wheels of government to roll past, nor for the landlords of this squalid housing to ease up on rents for a ten foot by six foot hovel which is home to a family of thirteen, four at least of whom are HIV positive.

So it’s a case of every little effort making some difference.

Sixty miles to the east of Nairobi is Nyumbani: a thousand acres of virgin land, covered with scrub, but with glorious views and considerable potential. Creating a brand-new village out here takes a lot of vision and not a small amount of sweat. Here’s where HANDS AROUND THE WORLD makes every little effort help: adding to the neat little houses, built of local compressed bricks, which will eventually provide a new home for nearly twelve hundred people.  Not the usual modern ‘nuclear family’ but, by necessity, a different little group – each house with a granny and grandchildren, along with several young orphans. Such is the effect of AIDS.

They’ll come to Nyumbani to start a new life, go to school, learn a skill, grow some beans, paw-paws, cow peas, mangoes and bananas, and perhaps expand into goat-rearing. The gift of land, added to the efforts of various charities, is intended to create a project which is self-sustaining and productive – there are ambitious plans for bio-diverse crops (castor-oil and jatropha) to be developed by a specialist team on the surrounding acres.

It’s a huge undertaking – while we were there came news that more grannies and children were already on their way to join the first inhabitants; the HATW volunteers headed for the brick-making machine, and the project’s Director, Sister Mary Owens, recalculated her fund-raising activities.

There are thought to be over a million AIDS orphans in Kenya, and for the first time, there’s evidence that the traditional family inclusiveness – which always extended to children despite lack of money – is crumbling. Prejudice is rearing its head both in relatives and in schools. And there is no provision whatsoever from central government for these children. Whether or not they are themselves HIV positive – and only a minority are – the fact that their parents have died of the disease is enough to isolate them from the rest of society.

Even when the site is fully up and running, it’ll be a drop in the ocean of Kenyan need. However, it would seem to be the most positive and useful effort that can be made, because otherwise there is no alternative.

Nyumbani is ambitious – but why shouldn’t it be? There’s a stream of people heading there, hoping for a decent future, planning and prepared to make an effort.

Every little helps.