A CHARITY has celebrated the staggering achievement of raising £100,000 in just six years.
WaterAid Rutland held a drinks party at The Old School House in Seaton on Thursday which was attended by the charity’s national chief executive officer, Barbara Frost, Rutland group patron and Lord Lieutenant Dr Laurence Howard and about 75 supporters.
Mrs Frost said Rutland was one of the first community groups to be founded and emphasised how important local fundraising work is to WaterAid.
The group raises money to help provide safe water and sanitation in West Africa to transform lives in poor communities.
As little as £15 can provide safe water for life. This means the Rutland group has already helped about 7,000 villagers and slum dwellers in Burkina Faso and Mali.
It was retired businesswoman Anne Lawson, 64, of Lyddington, wife of former Rutland High Sheriff Peter Lawson, who founded the Rutland group with some of her friends. She visited Mali for WaterAid in 2008.
Mali is one of the world’s poorest countries. Two thirds of it is desert and rainfall levels are decreasing.
It is now working in five of the country’s eight regions and in Bamako, the capital city. It helps rural settlements to deepen and protect hand-dug wells and fit them with handpumps or buckets and windlasses.
In urban areas they establish communal tapstands. People pay a small amount of money for their water and this is used for the maintenance of the supply. Soap-making schemes encourage enterprise and hygiene, educating people to wash their hands to help reduce diarrhoeal diseases. There are also credit schemes to enable women to buy buckets with lids to prevent water being contaminated on their journey home.
Prior to WaterAid involvement, people in rural Mali would not have enough water for four months of the year and would be forced to drink dirty water, knowing it would make them ill. Many now have rainwater harvesters, water points, stand pipes, latrines, hygiene kits and water purification systems.
The Rutland committee members are Charlotte Baker, Joanna Burrows, Andrew Davidson, Richard Harris, Anne Lawson, Robert Macleod-Smith, Danny Parker, David Penny, Angela Pollard and Hilary Williams. They meet monthly to arrange events and plan new ones.
Recent fundraising events have included a water walk from Eyebrook Reservoir to Rutland Water, a Christmas Tree festival, a Punjabi cooking demonstration, another by Claire Macdonald, a bridge tea, a ceilidh, an art lecture by Peter Welton and a one-woman show from Ginny Davis.
The WaterAid charity has the simple aim of providing a sustainable safe water supply, sanitation and hygiene education to those who don’t have it. It was founded by water companies in 1981 and receives money from a variety of sources, including the Government. It works in 27 Central African countries and also in Asia, the Pacific region and central America.
It runs a number of national fundraisers – the recent Climb For Water challenge involved 200 mountains and 2,000 people and the chain store H&M has a new H&M For Water range of clothing.
Mrs Frost said WaterAid transforms lives in some of the poorest communities in the world.
“Communities are at the heart of our work, which is why the support of local groups such as the one in Rutland are so important to us. We depend on the enthusiasm of our supporters to help motivate people and to feel connected to the work that we do,” she said.
Committee member Robert Macelod-Smith said: “We are very proud – and extremely grateful to the people of Rutland – of having raised this amount of money. We have supported projects in Burkina Faso and are now supporting projects in Mali.”