Rotarians get tooled up for Africa

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Members of Ellon Rotary Club were out in force on Saturday in the town’s Neil Ross Square, where they collected a range of DIY, home and garden equipment in aid of the ‘Tools for Self Reliance’ charity.

The charity, which counts Archbishop Desmond Tutu among its patrons, aims to eradicate poverty and hunger in Africa by providing people with skills and work tools which they can then use to help improve their lives.

Business was brisk at the Ellon Rotarians’ stall and it wasn’t long before their trailer was full of gardening, joinery and blacksmithing equipment donated by members of the public.

The main stall also gathered an impressive array of tools, from woodworking equipment like coping saws and planes to hand-powered Singer sewing machines.

Rotarian Dennis Stewart, who organised the event on the day, explained: “We’ve got tools here which are often thrown out.

“However, there’s people in Africa who need tools and can’t afford them, so this is a way of supplying equipment to people in need.

“Once we’ve gathered the tools together, we take them out to the Rudolph Steiner School at Camphill, who sort out the tools that are worth using. The tools get repaired and refurbished to a high standard by the pupils, are sorted out according to their best use and then sent over to Africa to some of the places where they will be needed most.

“We’re appealing for tools or equipment which might be suitable from local businesses as well as from members of the public. We’ve been here for nearly an hour and our trailer is almost full already. We’ll take anything, because in the places where these tools are in short supply, every little thing helps.”

Mr Tilmann Reinardy, who co-ordinates the project at the Camphill Steiner School in Aberdeen, explained more about the involvement of the school’s pupils, as well as of the wider educational benefits gained through their involvement.

“Typically, the pupils involved are aged between 16-18 and in their final year at the school. Although technical craft skills are needed in order to recondition the tools, we also use the time to allow the pupils to gain life skills as part of their work experience.

“Each kit which is sent away has a description of the group involved in its preparation, so that the people who eventually receive the tools can see exactly where they have come from. Often, the villages which receive the tools write back thanking us for what we’ve been able to send, and explaining just how they have been able to make a difference.

“We really enjoy being able to do something for other people in this way. It’s a real morale boost for everyone to see evidence of how our work is helping people in other parts of the world”.