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Trips up the tower to help the gorillas, and the people who keep them safe!

June 10, 2021 11:00 AM
By Press Release from Commonwealth Medical Trust (Commat)
Originally published by Tim Prater | Councillor for Sandgate & West Folkestone, Sandgate Village, Harvey West & Hythe East

Silverback mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Photo (Silverback mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Photo by Stephen Bwigyirire [Commonwealth Medical Trust])

Trips up the tower at Old School Mews were a special feature of the Sandgate Sale Safari, Sandgate, Folkestone, which was organised by the Sandgate Society, on Sunday 6 June. And, the first visitors to go up to look out towards Dungeness over Sandgate Castle were Sal Kenward, Chair of the Sandgate Society and Tim Prater, District Councillor for Sandgate and West Folkestone and Chairman of Sandgate Parish Council.

Both Tim and Sal had accepted the invitation with alacrity as, like many people in the Sandgate area, they wondered what could be seen from the top of the tower. In addition they were happy to join in the fun which, together with stall on the terrace, raised £214 by the end of the afternoon. The local MP, Damian Collins, had also been invited.

The monies will go, via the Commonwealth Medical Trust (Commat) whose director, Marianne Haslegrave, now lives in Old School Mews, to help women in the village of Nkuringo, in the west of Uganda. Their homes are on the far side of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, which is home to 459 of just over 1000 of the world's mountain gorillas. Living on a mountain ridge, while water pours off the roofs in the rainy season, the women have to go with their children, whom they keep out of school to help, two hours down to the bottom to get water out of the polluted river and then back again.

Marianne Haslegrave, Sal Kenward and Tim Prater (Steven Gabriel [Commonwealth Medical Trust (Commat)])Having raised funds for two initial storage tanks, Commat had been short-listed for a £50,000 grant over two years, from the Small Charities Challenge Fund (SCCF) to help the women and their families, including by providing further water tanks and sewing machines and pigs for income generation. The whole SCCF round was cut at the end of April as a result of the Government's decision to cut Official Development Assistance from 0.7 to 0.5% of gross national income (GNI).

This cut affects very poor people, who don't understand such things, (and the gorillas that they help to keep safe, certainly don't). Commat, therefore, decided to try to help "one item at a time". The funds raised will provide a treadle sewing machine, which can be used by the women without electricity, which is not available in the village.

Meanwhile, Commat will be providing information about the women and their families in Nkuringo and also the wonderful mountain gorillas who live in Bwindi, through its website: http://ngosbeyond2014.org/gorillas/. Do go online to have a look…

A big thank you to Sal and Tim, to our photographer, Steven Gabriel, and to everyone who contributed to the success of the day and to helping the help those who keep the gorillas safe.