The AGM 2016 – Chair’s Report

After the horrors of Ebola and the need for instant action in an attempt to alleviate the suffering where possible, this year has seen the Link, in conjunction with the Newton Committee, try to come to terms with the aftermath.

A lack of money and the need to import materials have always been issues, but these are now more acute than before Ebola. These problems, combined with the loss of skilled labour, have made it more difficult to progress projects.

Considering this, our current project, the Preschool, is remarkably well advanced and it is hoped that the roof will be on before the rainy season sets in!! Those of you who have experienced the rains in SL or in West Africa will know that it is impossible to continue working when the rain comes!

One of the Link’s major strengths has always been our “counterpart”, the Newton Committee. They are the Link’s “ears and eyes”. The Trustees rely on the Newton members to provide us with details of the wants and needs of the community. Their local knowledge is invaluable in ensuring that we back projects that will actually benefit the people of Newton and, essentially, be sustainable in the future.

In addition to the Preschool, which will enable children from 3-5 (who have lost one or both parents or a main bread winner to Ebola) to be cared for, whilst their current carer works to ensure food to eat, we have also dealt with a termite crisis at the STC, now renamed the Newton Institute.

At the request of Bakaar and other members of the Institute committee, we have established an annual bursary to enable local people to study. 10 students will benefit this year. Most of these will be mature students, who missed out on an education due to the Civil War.

None of the above would be possible if it were not for our supporters.  All of you are an essential part of our work in the help you give, be it practical, financial, or both.

Support comes in many guises: space in the Phonebox, Corporate membership, sponsorship, helping with stalls and at events, running in marathons, sponsored walks, giving of your time, filling collecting boxes with loose change, organising concerts, collecting first aid equipment and books, the list is endless. Everyone’s effort is invaluable and I want to thank you on behalf of the trustees and the people of Newton. As always, if any of you would like to join us or have fundraising ideas, we would love to hear from you.

Finally, as we move forward, we ask for your continued help to ensure the fitting out of the Preschool, the building of a water well, and, maybe, an extension to the Institute (STC) to provide a medical unit and other projects yet to be revealed. Please don’t be annoyed when we badger you for help, money, goods, your time etc., it is all in a very good cause!

My personal thanks also go to the Trustees, who have supported me in my first year as Chair, especially to the Link’s Officers. I particularly want to thank Rachel, who, far from disappearing into the background, has worked as hard as ever!!

Anne McCallum