A CARING couple have travelled to Africa to help rebuild a nursery and change the lives of children orphaned by HIV and Aids.
Andrew Calder, 34, and his wife Anne-Marie, 29, from Hendon, went to Tanzania where they helped renovate a nursery that had fallen into disrepair.
The couple became involved in Chem Chem Nursery, in Moshi, after Anne-Marie’s colleagues from Middlesbrough College made a similar trip.
Andrew, who works as a career advisor at Sunderland College, said: “A small team of us went out there but we did not just want to leave it at that, it had to be a long-term thing.
“We wanted to try and keep involved in the next year or two.”
Many of the children at the nursery are orphans due to HIV and Aids.
The school is operating on the goodwill of the teachers who have not been paid for six months.
Andrew and Anne-Marie aim to get the nursery, which caters for children aged three to six, funding itself within a year, so that it can operate as a successful business by rearing chickens and selling their eggs.
“The aim is to make sure the school can stand on its own two feet,” said Andrew.
“Looking at another school we visited, they had a cabinet with a medicine supply and they had school uniforms.
“The children love to be at school. They walk a long way to get there. One of the problems was the teachers had to let them go home at around 10am to be fed but once we got the daily meal in place they could stay and do a longer school day.”
Andrew is eager for Wearsiders to get involved as much as they can.
“We are looking for people to contribute. It could be a small monthly donation, or a one-off donation.
“If schools want to get involved and donate uniforms and stationery, or even local businesses could give us advice on how to get the nursery self sufficient, we would keep them up to date with a newsletter.”
Andrew said that the experience of visiting Chem Chem nursery was one he will never forget.
“It was absolutely amazing, life-changing really. Some of these children have nothing. They have lost their parents to HIV and Aids but some of the parents and grandparents that we met pleaded with us to not go away and forget about them but to help them.”
If all goes well with Chem Chem, plans could be rolled out to help other nurseries in the area.
“We hope to go out there next Easter and see how they are getting on and hopefully helping more in the area. We are looking at long-term not just a one off.”
For more details and to donate, visit www.supporting-chem-chem.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them @ChemChemNursery.