One of Scottish Land & Estates’ professional members, Murray McCheyne of Murchison Law, swapped his pen and paper for tools of a different sort this Easter. Murray joined 15 other volunteers drawn from sixth year pupils from Inverness Royal Academy and some from St Columba Church of Scotland, on a work party to Moshi, Tanzania organised by the Scottish charity, the Vine Trust. The work party were helping to build two new homes for disadvantaged and vulnerable families, who would otherwise be living in wooden shacks.
In the shadow of Kilimanjaro, the team laboured in sweltering temperatures of 35⁰+ to provide labour for local builders. It was hard, manual, physical work, with not a JCB or cement mixer in sight.
Commenting on the trip, Murray said: “The sheer joy on the face of Mama Rabisante when we first arrived at the site was heart melting. Life is tough for her, bringing up 8 children on her own since she was widowed but she is hardy, she took her place in the bucket chain with all the rest of us and boy, could she wield a shovel! It was so good being able to experience first-hand the difference we were able to make in her life and the lives of her children.
“I was also so pleased to be able to make this trip with my eldest son, Lewis. He and his peers are about to leave school and it was such a valuable experience for them. They now realise what life is like for others in a very different part of the world. The relative luxury of the Highlands where they live is a stark comparison to that of Mama Rabisante’s children. It certainly helps put things into perspective”.
Preparation for the trip began more than a year before the team left, with various fundraising efforts being undertaken. That was a lot of fun too, with efforts ranging from washing cars to whisky tasting (though not at the same time!) These efforts yielded sufficient funds to enable two further homes to be built for other vulnerable families.