HELENSBURGH fund-raisers could help lay the building blocks to a brighter future in one of Africa’s poorest countries by backing a local initiative.

The Rotary Club of Helensburgh, in conjunction with the town’s St Michael and All Angels Church, are hoping to raise £5,500 to go towards the Building Malawi project.

The scheme aims to create educational opportunities for impoverished and underprivileged children and has already contributed to the construction of schools and libraries in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe.

The Rotary Foundation and Rotary International will match any donations gathered at local level in order to cover the cost - £16,500 - of providing a double classroom at one of the city’s newest and largest schools, Lingadzi Academy.

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The 22-acre site will become the biggest sports complex in the country and the first of its kind, and includes a library, police station and netball court, with work on building a school expected to start in April 2020.

The Rotary Club are organising a number of fun fund-raising events around the town in the coming months and now they need the public’s help to achieve their financial goal.

Reay MacKay, international convener, said: “Rotary is an organisation that can be trusted in Africa, unlike banks or governments.

“When I re-joined last year, I took on the international committee because I felt that, if I could find a good enough project, then I could combine Rotary and the church to raise funds.

“The people of Malawi need our help just to stand still.

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“One problem in supporting African countries is that we need to make sure the support finds its way to the right place and does not get syphoned off.

“Both the church and Rotary are good ways of doing this, both being ethical organisations. Any money that you provide will be placed in secure accounts and not transmitted until we are sure that it will end up in the right place.

“I feel that the project has merit in that there is a clearly defined and limited objective. In other words, the money does not disappear into a huge black hole called 'aid'.

“Ultimately, I hope we will end up with a classroom in the Lingadzi Academy that will benefit future generations, with a name on it that will tell people who use it exactly where it came from.”

A successful ‘Malawi supper’ was held in Helensburgh at the weekend, adding £625 to the near £400 collected so far by the church congregation, while the proceeds from the Rotary’s Bridge night in February will also help boost the coffers.

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Rev Dom Ind, from St Michael's, said: "Reay and I both have tenuous links with Africa and we thought it would be good if, as a church, we could do something in that continent and involve others.

"I suggested Malawi primarily because of its strong links with Scotland and the fact that English is widely spoken which makes communication that much easier.

"Since then the project has taken off and Rotary are committed, and we have a solid, tangible project which will bring benefit to many young people in an area which has considerable socio-economic challenges."

Sixteen classrooms are planned for the new Lingadzi Academy, holding 40 children each, meaning more than 600 young people could benefit from the scheme.

The Rotary Club are encouraging other organisations and individuals to hold their own fund-raisers in support of the cause and any cheques can be sent to St Michael's Church, 16 William Street, Helensburgh, G84 8BD.

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