Swindon Advertiser17-hour trip to help earthquake victims (From Swindon Advertiser)

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17-hour trip to help earthquake victims

Swindon Advertiser: The Rev Rachel Wilson The Rev Rachel Wilson

KIND-HEARTED volunteers are helping people still affected by the earthquake in Haiti two years ago.

Seventeen Cricklade-based volunteers from the Community Partners Association UK left yesterday to embark on a 17-hour commute to work in a small Dominican Republic town of Barahona.

The Wiltshire volunteers, aged from 19 to 73, will spend two weeks undertaking desperately needed building repairs and maintenance to schools and health clinics in impoverished villages close to the border of Haiti.

Geoff Haslam, chairman of COPA UK, said: “It’s a long way to travel to work, and when we get there, conditions will be grim, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“June is still the rainy season and temperatures will average 30 degrees. The work group is planning to try and work six hours a day to completely paint and refurbish the Bombita Health Clinic, but we’ll have to deal with the conditions there as we meet them.”

The intrepid volunteers are all members of COPA, a small registered charity which is based in Cricklade at the United Church.

They are travelling out to undertake essential painting and building repairs to COPA’s two schools and health clinics in the Barahona Province.

Barahona is only 60 miles from the earthquake-ravaged Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

Conditions in the province are difficult, and many people in the village of Bombita are desperately poor Haitian refugees who fled after the earthquake or have left Haiti seeking work.

Electricity is frequently off and illness is rife in the villages, with the water supply also being intermittent and badly polluted.

Altogether nearly 900 children now attend the two COPA-built schools. COPA provides teaching materials and resources for the schools, together with medicines and materials for the clinics.

Half of the work group will also be running a Holiday Club for up to 240 children aged from five to 13, in the small villages of Bombita and La Hoya.

The volunteers have spent many months raising funds to purchase materials needed for the school Holiday Club and the building improvements.

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