Published: 14/07/2005, Volume II5, No. 115 Page 44
Dr Angus Bell would go to any lengths to help street children in Uganda - even take the shirt off his back. Quite literally.
Not content with just raising money for the Rhena Primary School for street kids in Kampala, Tees and North East Yorkshire Mental Health trust assistant medical director of adult psychiatry is now also collecting football shirts for the children.
'When I first went to Kampala I stayed with Bernard and Alice Bakunda and their family. Bernard was a hospital chaplain and was doing a project running a school. He had bought a plot of land and built himself a house for his retirement, ' Angus says.
'While he was building it he became aware of street children orphaned because of AIDS. He decided to give the land and house over to run a school at his own expense. He employed two teachers and quickly had 49 kids coming along on a daily basis.
'It was amazing what was being done with so little. I have raised over£25,000 over the last two and a half years.
It is now an official governmentapproved school. I was last over in April and now there are five teachers and the new head teacher is fantastic. The school teaches 138 kids.
'I am a rabid Newcastle United fan, but people in Kampala usually support Man U or Liverpool. They listen to premiership games on the radio and know all the teams. I made it into a joke that they had to swear allegiance to Newcastle United.
'It snowballed from there. I thought attracting people's attention with a plea for football shirts would be a good way of raising money. I've had 150 shirts sent to me from all over, but we still want more.
'My big plan is to get money and rebuild the school. A local audit predicted that demand on the school will be 400 kids within a couple of years. A new purpose-built, three-storey building on the land will cost£35,000.
'I've raised nearly£11,000 since April.
Shirts are great, but what the kids really need is money to give them the education to support themselves in the future.' Dr Bell can be contacted on 01287284 060