Out to Africa to see charity at work

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GAGA director Sarah Hodgson with students Ntombi and Pretty, who the charity helped to arrange funding to pay for their studies.

THE legacy behind a colourful yarn-bombed tree, in Stratford-upon-Avon town centre, at Christmas, has been living on thanks to the international children’s charity Goodwill and Growth for Africa (GAGA) UK.

Sarah Hodgson, the director of the charity, which is based in Timothy’s Bridge Road, has just returned from a trip to South Africa and is planning another trip there in June.

The organisation works hard to fight poverty in various parts of Africa, through supporting a range of projects, and Sarah went to see how some of them are getting on.

Sarah Hodgson with Russell ,who runs a project called The White House in rural South Africa. This project cares for elderly, disabled and vulnerable people; they’re currently looking after 48 people, ensuring they are safe and well looked after. GAGA provide funding for a feeding programme and the Stratford Remembering Tree raised funds for this project.
Sarah Hodgson with Russell ,who runs a project called The White House in rural South Africa. This project cares for elderly, disabled and vulnerable people; they’re currently looking after 48 people, ensuring they are safe and well looked after. GAGA provide funding for a feeding programme and the Stratford Remembering Tree raised funds for this project.

During her 16-night trip, Sarah, who lives in Clifford Chambers, visited all the projects supported by GAGA UK, including a primary school, a clinic, a baby home, an early childhood development organisation, and a feeding programme for the elderly.

Sarah, who made the trip with a volunteer from Scotland, said: “It is always a challenge to see the conditions that some people are living in, but these trips provide me with a sense of hope and encouragement. I see so many people working so hard, for the benefit of others, to improve other peoples’ lives, and you cannot help but feel motivated to carry on supporting such projects.”

On the trip, Sarah was also able to donate blankets made up from the squares on this year’s Remembering Tree.

She took out ten blankets to various projects where the need was great.

This photo was taken at 1000 Hills Community Helpers, a clinic in rural South Africa. Pictured are Nozipho, a nurse at the clinic, Sarah Hodgson, GAGA director, another nurse from the clinic, and Molly, a self-funded GAGA volunteer from Scotland.
This photo was taken at 1000 Hills Community Helpers, a clinic in rural South Africa. Pictured are Nozipho, a nurse at the clinic, Sarah Hodgson, GAGA director, another nurse from the clinic, and Molly, a self-funded GAGA volunteer from Scotland.

She said: “Although you may not think it, in areas of South Africa winter can be extremely cold, especially without proper insulation and heating. It was fantastic to see the squares from the GAGA Remembering Tree being put to use, and being really appreciated.”

The tree raised more than £2,000 for GAGA UK, with businesses and individuals in Stratford and beyond supporting the event.

Sarah added: “The squares for the tree and blankets were knitted by a wide variety of people, a huge thank you to all who contributed, including local knitting groups, such as the Click and Chatter ladies at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.”

South Africa is still battling with the effects of HIV, Aids, and other diseases, as well as incredibly high unemployment rates, causing food security issues, and contributing to the cycle of poverty.

GAGA UK has been working in the country for more than ten years.

To find out more about the charity, the Remembering Tree, and the recent trip to South Africa visit www.gaga-uk.org

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Children and staff at First Step Right School in South Africa. GAGA are the primary funders of this school, which has over 145 children, from ages 18 months to 9 years. Sarah Hodgson, GAGA Director, is on the left with some of the teachers.
Three children at First Step Right School in Cato Ridge, South Africa, with one of the blankets made from Stratford’s Remembering Tree.
Three children at First Step Right School in Cato Ridge, South Africa, with one of the blankets made from Stratford’s Remembering Tree.