Project Rhino - Update
Project Rhino was founded by Spencer Gelsthorpe and his late wife to help with the fight to save the black rhino. The charity then developed and expanded its work to help the poorest communities in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
John Litchfield CEO of Channel Island Ceramics became a supporter of the charity in the early years and continues to do so by providing sales space for the stunning stone and metal Shona sculptures shipped to Guernsey by the charity. 'I got to know Spencer about 35 years ago as he was our plumber and the association with his charity grew from there,' says John. He is still committed to displaying the distinctive sculptures which have pride of place at various sites in his showroom.
Spencer has just returned to Kenya after a few months in Guernsey. He continues to support the local communities around Lake Nakuru National Park in the Rift Valley and ensures that PRCT ventures are well maintained and effective. Kilo Primary School and Nursery require ongoing maintenance as they were built by Project Rhino in 1998. They continue to provide local children with a primary school education.
The water project at the Shamba is still running smoothly and has been the only source of clean water for several kilometres in the recent droughts. Crops have failed for three consecutive years, and this has had a major impact on these desperately poor rural communities. Ongoing maintenance and repairs to the pumps and water pipes are essential, and the area around Kilo continues to rely on this support from the charity.
The Kenyan government, together with overseas aid, provides funds to supply anti-retroviral drugs to patients who are HIV positive. However, individuals who live in remote areas are often unable to travel to the specialist AIDS clinics which can be 40km from their community. Project Rhino supports several patients to travel to the clinics for these life-saving drugs.
Says Spencer: 'We continue to collect and transport donated prosthetics, orthotics and medical equipment from Guernsey and the UK. These items are generally given to Jaipur, a charity located in Nairobi which is jointly funded by the Rotary and Lions Clubs of Kenya. They ensure that artificial limbs from Guernsey are stripped to component parts and reused, then used for amputees who may otherwise be unable to walk. This charity ensures that medical equipment shipped by Project Rhino is refurbished and appropriately prescribed and redistributed to the most vulnerable Kenyans.'
Spencer is still trying to find ways to support the Albino Community in East Africa. This minority group is persecuted, attacked and driven out of their communities because of African superstition. UV light damages eyesight and Specsavers have kindly donated prescription glasses to aid vision. PRCT is exploring options which will enable this group to support themselves and their families.
He does very little fundraising now, so self funds most of this himself, with the help of sculpture sales from Channel Island Ceramics, which John kindly sells for us without commission. To see examples of the Shona sculptures please feel free to visit the CIC Showrooms at Forest where at least one stone study enjoys pride of place in a state of the art shower cubicle!
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