BT apprentices chosen for African charity challenge

Two BT apprentice engineers have kicked off a major fundraising effort for the trip of a lifetime to Africa in February 2014. 

Peter Ferrier, of Paisley, and Stuart McCulloch, from Kilmarnock, are representing Scotland on a young charity taskforce swapping their day jobs for hard manual labour to rebuild and develop a school in the Kibera slums of Kenya. 

The tiny St Lazarus School currently educates 130 children who would not be accepted anywhere else because their families are too poor to provide the most basic school requirements, such as uniforms and text books. Classes currently take place in two dilapidated mud and tin huts. 

The team’s ambitious plans include rebuilding the existing huts and buying and converting a third one, using traditional techniques, to form a larger, covered school building. They’ll also create a playground linking the three buildings, stock a library and put in solar panels to power lighting, refrigeration and computers. 

Peter, 22, of Paisley’s Douglas Street, said: “This is going to be the trip of a lifetime. It’s a chance to make a real difference to the lives of children who start out with so little and have none of the advantages we take for granted. 

“Right now the school is in danger of financial and physical collapse. Teachers are currently not being paid and food is intermittent. For most of the children, the school represents their only meal of the day. 

“Being able to witness what can be done with the money we are raising and see at first-hand how it can change people's lives will be amazing.” 

Stuart, 28, of West Woodstock Street in Kilmarnock, added: “I have thought about doing something like this for years. I have always wanted to make a difference. 

“When BT gave us the opportunity I jumped at the chance, though I have never done anything for charity on this scale before. I can’t wait to help the people in Kenya – and certain aspects of the experience will help me in my own job as well.” 

In addition to their physical work, the team will also fund a year’s running costs for the school, covering teacher salaries, maintenance, food, books and other educational materials, and help with staff costs over the next two years. 

They’ll pay for school uniforms and essential medicine for the pupils, and work with a local agency to provide laptops and IT training for students and staff. 

Teams from BT, comprised of current and former apprentices and graduates, have worked on similar projects in support of the charity Challenge Worldwide – Training for Life for the past several years. 

Peter and Stuart each have to raise at least £3,500 to help fund the project, in addition to a personal contribution of £500. As part of their fund-raising efforts, they will attempt to reach the summit of Mount Kenya next year. Standing at almost 5,000 metres above sea level, it’s the second-highest mountain in Africa behind Kilimanjaro. 

They’re also planning various activities closer to home, with Stuart staging a charity cycle around the Island of Cumbrae on September 28 and a fund-raising night in his home town on October 4. 

Peter said: “In the current climate, fundraising is extremely challenging. But with perseverance, determination and a lot of help, it’s not an unachievable task.” 

For more information about the trip or the project, visit the Challenge Worldwide website athttp://giraffeevents.co.uk/challengeworldwide/ To make a donation, visit Peter’s BT MyDonate page at: https://www.mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/peterferrier1 or Stuart’s homepage athttps://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/stuartmcculloch