Hitchin church group returning to mark a decade of aid to Ethiopia

Members of a Hitchin church have raised neearly £50,000 for a project in Ethiopia

Members of a Hitchin church have raised neearly £50,000 for a project in Ethiopia - Credit: Archant

Members of a Hitchin church group who visited Africa to help a slum become self-sufficient are revisiting the area next month after raising nearly £50,000 to support the project.

Valerie Dowsett

Valerie Dowsett - Credit: Archant

Worshippers at Christchurch linked up with the World Vision charity and first visited Lideta – a slum in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa – back in 2005, raising money for health care, water purification, help for new businesses, and raising awareness of HIV/Aids.

Valerie Dowsett from St Ippolyts, is one of the group of eight – including Kate Gilfillan, Jeanne Haigh, Phillipa Dowsett, Stella Bousfield and Ken Bamberough – heading back to Lideta in the next month.

She said: “We’ve very excited about going back.

“Having been there at the start and seen the run down, dejected type of community that existed in Lideta at the time – to know that our project is coming to an end having reached its aim of leaving the Lideta community self-sufficient and able to look after themselves is incredibly exciting and rewarding.

“It has been a wonderful experience for Christchurch to see this community able to educate its children. In 2004 before we first visited, our initial fundraising went to buy school uniforms in order for the children to go to school – and now they are educated to degree level.

“The adults have been taught skills and budgeting so they are able to run small businesses and live independently – skills which include weaving, tailoring, catering, hairdressing, egg and mushroom production and more recently IT and car maintenance.

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“Along the way we’ve been able to help with donations to cover health care, sanitation, and a greater understanding for the prevention and treatment of HIV/Aids.

“World Vision is now confident local churches are equipped and ready to take over the responsibility of caring for and supporting the community when they leave.

“Over the years, we’ve run coffee mornings, quiz nights, pudding clubs, concerts and market stalls to raise £49,000.”

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