Our Mission

Generating growth for African children and communities devastated by HIV-AIDS and poverty, through the goodwill of people in the UK and elsewhere

News Archive - June - 2016

Sarah heads to SA

Sarah heads to SA

Today, Sarah is heading to South Africa!

She will be joined by two students from the University of Leeds as well as Laura, a friend of Sarah's and employee at the University. Sarah's grandma will  also be joining them on the trip. 

They will be visiting a variety of projects supported by GAGA, learning and seeing lots, and sharing their knowledge too. 

Keep up to date with the trip by following Sarah's blog - click here

Volunteers Week Thank you!!

Volunteers Week Thank you!!

Over the past week (plus a few days), we have been sharing with you our volunteers' stories about why they get involved with GAGA UK as well as in what different ways they assist us. Our volunteers help to shape GAGA as an organisation, and are all part of the lovely GAGA family! We could not manage without all our volunteers, from those who help in the office with various tasks, to those who help at events, from those who fundraise on our behalf to those who knit and crochet to help as many as they can, from our trustees to those who visit South Africa and see the projects GAGA support there -  You are all amazing!

GAGA Director Sarah says 'A big thank you from all the team at GAGA, and the projects we support, to all ouf our volunteers and supporters who make up the GAGA family.'

THANK YOU!

See more photos of our lovely volunteers here

Why we do what we do

Why we do what we do

We want to share with you on a regular basis the reasons behind why we do what we do! This is not difficult as there are so many wonderful stories to share from the projects we support in South Africa and beyond, which show why we support them and how a difference is made. 

From April 2015 to March 2016 GAGA provided over R450,000 (just over £21,000) to 1000 Hills Community Helpers towards their wonderful clinic, supporting the surrounding rural communities. 

We did this because we knew it would have a huge impact and we were right!

This funding ensured that over 25,000 patients were helped (in just one year alone!). The work going on at 1000 Hills is just amazing. They have a Baby Wellness clinic once a week, and it's a happy day for the Centre; their volunteer sister Faith Mulligan puts a lot of time in to see that the babies are well taken care of. In April they almost had to deliver a 6 month premature baby, but managed to get mum to hospital in time and she safely had a beautiful baby boy. Because of the clinic at 1000 Hills, mum and baby are safe! This is just one story out of over 25,000 - we know the centre helps people, changes lives, saves lives and has a massive impact on the community. 

You, as supporters and donors make this possible! The majority of our funding comes from regular givers donating from £1 a month, and because of this we're able to continue to support amazing projects such as 1000 Hills.  

Caitlin in SA

Caitlin in SA

Caitlin visited South Africa with 8 other volunteers on the Hlanganani Trip with GAGA UK in July 2015. She helped to build a vegetable garden at First Step Right School. She also promoted GAGA in her home town and church, helping to raise much needed funds to help with the building of the vegetable garden. 

Caitlin worked hard on the trip and really got stuck in; she asked lots of questions and wanted to learn a lot about South Africa and the projects GAGA supports. Along with the other volunteers on the trip, she really helped to make a difference at First Step Right and beyond. This Volunteers Week, we'd like to thank Caitlin for her huge contribution!!

Caitlin says of her time in SA: 'I could talk about my trip to South Africa for hours and hours. What an amazing experience, one which I will always remember!' To read more of Caitlin's lovely story, please see below. 

Thank you to Caitlin and all GAGA volunteers and supporters. 


'When Colin and Karen first approached the school to inform us about their plan to head out to South Africa they told us that words can't describe how amazing the place is. I thought surely there are words to tell people how good a place it is.. But no, they were right, words cannot describe how spectacular the scenery is, how amazing the wildlife is and of course how lovely the people were that we worked with. All these words are just not enough, and people will only understand how amazing it is when they are able to see it all first hand. 

I feel extremely fortunate and privileged to have been involved in this project and I am so thankful I was. To people who come from a well off family/background building a vegetable garden doesn't seem like such a big deal. However, to these children who have such a limited supply of food (which isn't always the most nutritional), it was a huge thing. They were day by day watching holes been dug, cement been mixed, posts getting put up and fences forming. They took part and eagerly helped in any way they could. They were able to see how the garden was built and hopefully picked up some small educational lessons from it. Most importantly they were getting an opportunity to grow and look after these vegetables and achieve something from it. For the little that they had they were so happy, and showed that every day we were there. 

It has shown me for one, just how much we can take for granted. Something that can be so trivial to us can be a huge thing to them. I'm sure we waste good food more than we realise and forget that people like those in South Africa would be over the moon to have it. I am such a lucky girl to be able to go to my kitchen and grab food whenever I want it or to even go abd buy it for myself. Things like that just aren't always possible for these children or their family. 

We were also very lucky to go and visit a couple of other projects that GAGA fund. We went to see 1000 Hills Community Helpers which was amazing. The money that is given to them has been used extremely well to provide such great facilities. This project has been well organised and provides lots of opportunities for the people who go and use it. 

We also visited the White House Community Care Centre. This for me was the hardest one to see. The work that goes on here is phenomenal. This was a centre for elderly people and youngsters with learning difficulties alongside other health issues. This wasn't anything like your clean, infection controlled environment though. Very different from our hospitals/care environments here at home. However, it was such a friendly place and all the people there seemed comfortable. This has opened my eyes to see how lucky we are to have such an amazing healthcare service in this country. One we can get in touch with 24/7 and not even have to pay for it. We also have our health, something we all take for granted. 

However, on a positive note, the trip has taught me a better way to look at all the things I have. It's showed me how lucky I am to have my health and family. To have a safe rood over my head and to have the financial support to enable me to provide for myself. As hard as it is to see how people can live in such poverty, it's a massive eye opener and I am so happy I went to see it all. I would absolutely love to go back to South Africa and volunteer again when I get the opportunity. I would recomment anyone to go and see all the country has to offer, beccause there is plenty! So let's go MAD, go GAGA and Make A Difference!'

Thank you Marissa!

Thank you Marissa!

Marissa Alvarez is a GAGA Trustee, which is a volunteer post. 

Marissa, from local village Binton, has been a GAGA trustee since 2013. Not only does she voluntarily support GAGA in this capacity, but also at events, working regularly in the office supporting the Director and garnering local support. She is instrumental in the work that we do here at GAGA. 

Marissa says that she 'started supporting GAGA because I wanted to work with a charity focusing on working with children and women in Africa. Once I started working closely with Charlie and Ann and learned more about how GAGA work, and after visiting our projects in South Africa, I knew that our money and efforts were being put to good use and I've not looked back since.'

Thank you Marissa for all that you do. 

#gomadgogaga

GAGA's wonderful Volunteers

GAGA's wonderful Volunteers

A huge thank you to wonderful volunteers Jeff and Claire, this Volunteers Week. They have helped us here at GAGA in a variety of ways. 

Jeff has volutneered for us for a couple of years now.  He has been a huge assistance, helping with a variety of tasks including event research and planning, and with creating spreadsheets, donor communitcations and event and income analysis. His help as a volunteer has been very much appreciated; his knowledge of the NGO sector and development has been crucial and although he now lives in Romania, we're so glad he can still help out!

Jeff says that 'having worked with several NGOs in the past, mostly focused on work in the Middle East and Asia, I was really interested to get involved in the wonderful work that GAGA does in Africa. Once I got started, it proved to be a wonderful experience in which I learned from, and shared with, the rest of the GAGA team. I truly value my time with GAGA, and I'm proud to continue supporting the organisation in any way I can'. Thank you Jeff!

Claire is one of our newest volunteers. She has so far asssisted with research on 100 clubs and pensions and is helping GAGA Director Sarah enormously with the accounting. She has been a great ambassador, having raised £100 for GAGA UK during the Stratford Literary Festival, from poet Henry Normal. 

Claire says 'I was particularly interested in GAGA UK as, having grown up in Southern Africa, I have a strong affinity with Africa and its people. It was my desire to become actively involved with a chartiable venture with Africa for some time... I was delighted to find GAGA UK on do-it.org.'

Thanks Claire!

Well done to all our volunteers for your amazing work - we wouldn't be here without you! 



Alan, the Charitable Champion

Alan, the Charitable Champion

Alan Wolstencroft is a GAGA Trustee, and supports GAGA in a number of ways voluntarily. We are celebrating him today during Volunteers Week, and saying a huge thank you for all he does at GAGA and for those in Sierra Leone and beyond. 

In 2005 Alan visited Sierra Leone as a volunteer member of a Rotary Mission Challenge Team. He had never been anywhere in the third world and although we constantly see images on the television it was only when he went and spent time amongst it that he REALLY understood the TRUE situation. He went, believing it would be a 'one off life experience' BUT the trip was life changing for him and he has now been 9 times. 

Alan became involved with GAGA in 2007, was appointed a Trustee in 2008 and is currently Vice Chairman of the Trustees - he visited South Africa 4 times to work on various projects. 

Alan believes that one of the strengths of GAGA is that by dealing directly with individuals, organisations and/or communities they have a very 'hands on' approach to all their projects making monitoring and evaluation very effective and cost efficient. 

There is a saying that 'when you go to Africa, you leave a bit of you behind.' Alan says 'I like to think that the bits I have left behind, on my 13 African trips, have really helped to make a real difference. If what I do helps change the lives of just a few people, then the effort is well worth it.'

Thank you to Alan, and all GAGA volunteers in your various ways supporting GAGA. You're wonderful!

Colin, a GAGA hero

Colin, a GAGA hero

Colin Morrison has supported GAGA for a number of years. Along with his wife Karen and daughter Natalie, they form the Dingwall GAGA ambassadors team. 

Coling has visited South Africa a few times now, and is always blown away by the country, the people and the projects supported there. The Morrison family have helped fundraise for GAGA, and well as donating regularly. They also voluntarily organised a trip to South Africa with 7 young people, to build a much needed vegetable garden at First Step Right School. 


The support of the Morrison family is crucial to GAGA's work and we are so grateful to them for giving up their time for others. 


Of the most recent trip to South Africa Colin says: 'I guess the most fantastic part is Gael's regular updates on 'our' garden. It has exceeded our best expectations, and is a real tribute to the hardwork the school is putting in to it. The trip was life affirming for us in so many ways. It reminded us of our responsibilities to others, that we are incredibly fortunate to be a part of the life of GAGA, and that more than anything, it was a real privilege to meet community leaders such as Russell, Gael and Dawn. 
I have so many memories of laughter and friendship that I hardly know where to begin. The day we turned up at Phe Zulu (our wonderful home from home) with 11 pairs of dirty shoes, cold hands, straggly wet hair and soaked to the skin was maybe a wee low point, but a whole community of Zulu dancers in Sankontshe ensured that memory was soon erased. The kids in First Step Right, the 500 women who sang at 1000 hills, and children screaming and laughing at the same time as you whizzed them around in a wheel barrow are part of my kaleidoscope of memories. And of course, the Hlanganani team proved to us every minute of every day that they were an incredible group of youngsters. They set an example for others to follow, built friendships I'm sure will stand the test of time, and undoubtedly will be back to KZN. So, what next? Well, the work goes on, we are a part of GAGA and Africa is a part of us...'

Thank you to Colin this Volunteers Week, for 'going GAGA'; and to the whole Morrison family for their support.  

Sylvia the Superstar

Sylvia the Superstar

Sylvia May is one of GAGA's wonderful ambassadors, representing us in Ipswich and working hard to fundraise and promote our work. We want to share her story with you, this Volunteers Week.

She is an essential part of the GAGA family, and without her we would not be able to support the projects that we do. She has raised almost £1000 in the past year alone and getting friends and family involved and helping wherever possible.  

Sylvia visited South Africa in 2006, to volunteer at a children's home, and again in 2012 with then Director Charlie, seeing some of the projects supported by GAGA. Sylvia has a huge passion for the country. She fundraises regularly for us, selling various items including home-grown plants, at car-boot sales, making greetings cards and selling these on. 

Sylvia says about her visit to South Africa that 'it was so rewarding despite the sad situations the children and women experienced... I suppose the most lovely moment will easily be when an elderly gogo (grandmother) took my hands between hers and said 'thank you and god bless you' in Zulu, after I visited and assisted her... what is more rewarding than that.'

Thank you Sylvia for all that you do.


Why we do what we do (Saving lives)

Why we do what we do (Saving lives)

Have you ever wondered why GAGA do what we do, or what impact you could have? Perhaps you support us already but you're not sure how it helps?

Well, YOU save lives. 

18 months ago GAGA UK purchased a CD4 Count Machine for Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust. These machines are crucial in helping people access life saving treatment for HIV. Without your support this would not have been possible and it's just yet another reason for why we do what we do. The two machines that HACT have did 164 CD4 counts last year, meaning you helped us save over 70 lives, helping people access the treatment they really need, faster. 

What an achievement! Thank you for being a part of that with us. 

Megan in SA

Megan in SA

Our 'Going GAGA' series for Volunteers Week, continues with a huge thanks to Scottish volunteer Megan Dale. 

Megan visited South Africa in July 2015, with the Hlanganani Volunteer trip. A group of 9 volunteers helped to build a vegetable garden at First Step Right School. 

Megan said of her visit: 'Undoubtedly South Africa was the most incredible and inspiring trip I've ever had the honour to go on. It's so easy not to expand our knowledge of povert-struck areas past what we see on the TV, but being able to experience it first-hand really created an impact. Everyone we had the chance to meet was so friendly and welcomed us with open arms, but the difficulties many faced also demonstrated how important it is for us to continue trying to make a difference. We helped construct a vegetable patch for the local pre-school. Although seemingly insignificant to us, over there it guaranteed a sufficient supply of vegetables for the children; something we take for granted back home. These kind of projects can't happen without funding, and so this trip has inspired me to continue to keep trying to help out in whatever way I can.' 

Thanks Megan for your hard work on the trip! 

#gomadgogaga 

Ken the Kayak Man

Ken the Kayak Man

Today we continue our Volunteers Week Series 'Going GAGA' with celebrating Ken Jones, GAGA Volunteer and supporter. 

Ken participated in the 3 Lakes Challenge with Director Sarah last July and helped to raise over £1000 for GAGA UK. Ken was also involved in the GAGA Remembering Tree, helping to yarn-bomb 17 trees in Stratford-upon-Avon. 

Ken says that 'the story of this small charity with the aim of helping those in need of help in Africa was intriguing and sparked an interest that I decided to pursue... The one thing I can say is that in observing 'going GAGA' it has replaced my faith in cahrity work that is going on in the UK... From all I've seen with GAGA the money goes directly to those whom need it and long may that continue!!!'

A huge thank you to wonderful Ken for all his help and support.

 

GAGA's Secret Weapon

GAGA's Secret Weapon

Ann Smith - the Secret Weapon of GAGA!

Today marks the beginning of Volunteers Week, from 1st to 12th June. This is an opportunity for organisations in the UK to thank their volunteers. We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the wide variety of volunteers we have here at GAGA UK as we could not do our work and be successful without you. Today is the start of our 'Going GAGA' series which will showcase the wonderful work of our volunteers, how they get involved with GAGA and the impact they have, as well as their thoughts on GAGA and why they support us. If you would like to comment, please dodrop Sarah an email on infor@gaga-uk.org.

To launch this series, we are celebrating the wonderful Ann Smith, from Bidford.  Ann has been a long-standing GAGA trustee, and was treasurer for a number of years. She has been involved with GAGA since it's early beginnings over 10 years ago. Ann is crucial to the work we do, knowing the history of the organisation as well as having built fantastic relationships with our donors, supporters and projects. Not only does she voluntarily support GAGA in this capacity, but also helps with our accounting and with running and putting on events, and in many other ways. She most definitely is our Secret Weapon. 

Ann says that 'having witnessed the need first-hand in 2002 and 2005, I wholeheartedly believe in the work we do through GAGA, thus engancing the lives of the young children, scholars and elderly people we contribute to.'. 

Thank you Ann!

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