The financial impacts of Brexit are only just beginning to become clear, but one of the more unforseen consequences has been the effect of diminished exchange rates on sums of cash raised for overseas aid projects.

The Comet: Artist's impression of what teh new Tariro centre will look likeArtist's impression of what teh new Tariro centre will look like (Image: Archant)

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the stalling of a project to build a new orphanage for children in Stevenage’s link town in Zimbabwe, Kadoma.

Andy Hills, an architect and member of the Stevenage–Kadoma Link Association – which for many years has led exchanges and fundraising projects between the two towns – had raised £40,000 from his architectural work to build a centre so that 20 orphans living in a very basic room attached to the town’s hospital would have a proper place to call home.

But the Brexit vote and its impact on the exchange rate have meant he has had to call off the builders just before they were due to start work on the new site for the orphanage, which is called Tariro – aptly translating from Shona as ‘hope’.

And Brexit was not the only blow for Andy. At almost exactly the same time, the hospital in Kadoma has said it needs back the room where the orphans now live.

The Comet: Andy signing a contract with the Kadoma authorities who are providing the land for the new centreAndy signing a contract with the Kadoma authorities who are providing the land for the new centre (Image: Archant)

The current orphanage has no running water, no toilet facilities and the most basic of sleeping accommodation.

Now Andy needs to raise an extra £7,000 for the build, which will comprise two semi-detached houses and a community centre known as a ‘living house’ where teaching and educational activities can take place.

He also needs find another £1,800 to rent a house where the orphans can live for six months during the rainy season until the first part of the project can be built.

Andy first got involved in the Kadoma link when he took a church group there in 1997.

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He describes it as a ‘life changing experience’ and has not looked back since, leading many group visits and continuing his work to raise funds for the orphans.

Andy told the Comet: “It was a killer because the builders were literally about to start work and I had to call them off at the last minute.

“The orphans have been in the current building for a good number of years and there’s been a great deal of generosity for them to be able to.

“We’ve got a fantastic relationship with the city council out there but they are totally cash-strapped.

“We do rely on the generosity of people from within the town who have some empathy with those struggling in such poor conditions – especially suffering children – who through no fault of their own find themselves so disadvantaged in life, losing parents through the Aids epidemic that has been so rife in Africa. It’s heart breaking to witness the reality of this.”

Andy hopes to be able to begin the first house for the new building in April, after the rainy season ends.

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