CHARLENE’S Project, set up by the late Charlene Barr from Dollingstown, has just selected a location in Africa to build a second school - a testimony to the endurance of her legacy.
Her sister, Natalie with her dad Dr Dickie Barr and Basil O’Malley, one of the trustees of Charlene’s Project have just returned from a productive trip to Uganda.
The trio returned to Hidden Treasure Primary School in Maya, just outside Kampala which was built through fundraising efforts of Charlene, who died in 2010.
The school now has well over 250 pupils and is going from strength to strength.
Natalie, Dickie and Basil also travelled to the west of Uganda and there they visited a number of schools and selected Kahara Primary School as the second school that Charlene’s Project will partner with, in a building programme and community development work.
Natalie said: “The school was 60km up a dirt road, between mud huts and across a small stream. The children are currently meeting in a mud structure and the leaders are desperate for help in building a school fit for purpose for the children of the community.”
Dickie added: “The fundraising has begun and we already have sent the first instalment to Build Africa who are building the school for us so that building can start right away.”
Natalie had sent out a half ton of hockey sticks and kit before she went out to Uganda and a big part of her time was working with a small Ugandan NGO Youth Sport Uganda in coaching hockey in schools and hockey camps during the visit.
She said: “It was incredible seeing the children, often barefoot, learning to play the game I love. The children learnt really fast - even though much of our coaching was on grass or mud.
“We were able to donate sticks and kit to all the schools we visited and I hope to return next year to do more hockey coaching and development work.”
Natalie thanked all the different individuals, businesses and sports clubs who donated sticks and equipment to make this venture possible.
She said: “Over 1,000 children were involved in the schools and camps we held and they and I really enjoyed the experiences we had together.”
Natalie and her twin sisters Bethany and Serena play for Lurgan Ladies, Ulster and Ireland. Natalie has been playing this summer for Ireland U21s while Bethany and Serena have been representing Ireland at U18 level.
The whole Barr family rejoiced last weekend as Stephen Kiprotich won the Olympic gold medal for Uganda in the Marathon.
“We had talked about the London Olympics to the children we were coaching and they were so excited and looking forward to it. I know how much excitement there will be in Uganda with this Olympic success,” said Natalie who is leaving in the next few weeks on a hockey scholarship to Liberty Christian University in Virginia.