They may be a common feature in our parks and ponds, but ducks are providing an unlikely lifeline for a third world community, thanks to a High Peak project.
After being twinned with a Ugandan town in a Church of England scheme in 2003, the parish at St Matthew’s Church, in Hayfield, has been striving to improve the conditions of their African counterparts for more than a decade.
Since 2009, the congregation has raised approximately £15,000 for the people of Kagando, including providing more than 1,000 sand filters, which are used to clean river water.
But providing access to drinking water wasn’t enough.
This year, the plucky team of volunteers, known as Uganda Link, wanted to do more for the destitute residents of the Kasese District to help end poverty and hunger.
And on the suggestion of one of their Ugandan helpers, the group, which has now incorporates St John’s Church in Hayfield, and St Mary’s, in Chinley, bought 40 ducks and 60 ducklings to distribute.
Costing as little as £143, the ducks have so far been donated in pairs to 24 families, in the hope of providing them with the beginnings of a sustainable livelihood.
“Ducks are more resistant to disease than chickens,” explained Geoff Carrier. “People are given a breeding pair of ducks, the ducklings can be raised or sold on. They’re obviously a good source of eggs too. It was Yokonia’s idea and we’re always looking of new ways to help.”
The IT instructor, of New Mills, founded the project Sand Filter Aid, five years ago, after a discovering the concept by chance when visiting friends in Surrey.
“They took me to a prayer meeting and there was a speaker talking about how they are used in Pakistan and I thought they would work well in Kagando,” the 54-year-old lay reader at St Matthew’s explained. “It was a turning point in my life.”
Through Uganda Link and his initiative, he is now employing locals to deliver training courses to people wanting to build a the sand filter pots, creating jobs as well as fresh water for the town.
He said: “Given global communications, they’re aware of how we all live. And if you’re living in a mud hut, you might feel that the world has passed you by and forgotten you, like you’re not part of the party.
“All this is about making them feel like they haven’t been forgotten, that we want to help, that’s our message.”
This year, Uganda Link, raised a total of £3,000 through generous donations from congregations and fundraising drives such as coffee mornings.
In addition to filters and ducks, the funds have helped improve the school, Kagando Hospital and the washing station for coffee growers of Musasa.
If you would like to make a donation, write a cheque payable to Hayfield PCC, marked Sand Filter Aid on the back, to 7 Hall St, New Mills, SK22 3BR.
If you are interesting in visiting Kagando with Uganda Link in January, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on sand filters and how they work visit sandfilteraid.co.uk.