Small Business, Big Difference

We all sit and watch Comic Relief, get a bit tearful, donate a tenner. It’s not until you get the chance to go out to Africa and see it for yourself that any of it makes any sense.

Last week I was lucky enough to get that opportunity. Along with five friends from our local business community, Emily Chapman (Loud Monkey), Sam Dallas (Medway Bridge Marina), Anthony Opie (Opies), Nick Gillott (Nick Gillott Photography) and Olympia Brightley-Hodges (my little sis) I ventured to Uganda for a long weekend. Led by the wonderful Angus Wilson, Director of Fields of Life and CEO of Wilson’s Country, it was a truly life-changing couple of days.

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Organised by an Irish charity called Fields of Life (FoL), the five day, whirlwind tour of their charity projects in Uganda was an intense insight into how the money they raise has a life-changing impact on the people of the country.

Fields of Life are passionate about two main things – delivering quality education to the children of Africa and providing clean drinking water to rural communities. During the course of our trip we visited three FoL schools and were able to see how far they had come since investment from FoL.

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I was particularly struck by a woman called Jennifer who started a school from the front room of her tiny house in the slums of Kampala. More and more parents sent their children to her and soon she was bursting at the seams, despite her husband building lean to’s, extensions and trying to make do with the limited space they had. Eventually, with funding from FoL, Jennifer built a secondary school high on a hill just outside Kampala’s city centre.  It’s basic but it provides exactly what the students need – a safe, welcoming environment to learn. What’s more, the children are working at a level far higher than those in the UK; I was blown away by their perfect English, immaculate handwriting and the complexity of what they were learning.

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It’s all testament to Jennifer’s dedication. It’s clear to see that she LOVES what she does, it’s her life and she has given those young people a chance in life. It was painful to see that the younger children in her nursery are still in the original house where it all began. It can only be described as a building site and is certainly not where these young children should be.

But the part of the trip which really knocked my for six was seeing our ‘Brightley-Hodges’ drinking well being dug in a small rural village. It was the very first well to be dug as part of the ‘WellGood‘ campaign and was a result of my Mother’s fundraising climb to the summit of Mount Elgon earlier in the year when she raised over £5,000 for Fields of Life. £3,600 of that went towards providing this well; a total lifeline for the people of the community. I couldn’t help but get tearful when meeting the men, women and beautiful children who will no longer have to walk miles every day to get clean water. And all because our little family in Kent decided to do something and raise a little bit of money.

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Along with seeing the rest of the FoL projects, this gave me and the rest of my group the fire in our belly to want to come home to the UK and do something. We’re planning several fundraising events and are determined that this is just the start. The start of something special and a commitment for life.

And so how can the rest of the family business community get involved?

Join the ‘WellGood‘ campaign and sponsor a drinking well for just £3,600. Whether you do it as a family, as a business …. or as a family business! Know for certain that the money you raise will have a REAL and life-changing effect on thousands of people.

If you want to talk to me about my trip or the ‘WellGood‘ campaign just give me a call – 01732 220 120

Amalia Brightley-Gillott

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