Edinburgh church raises £20k to fund wells in West Africa

A CHURCH has raised more than £20,000 to fund the installation of life-saving water wells in West Africa.

Tuesday, 14th March 2017, 8:01 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:37 am
Ian Stirrat, front centre, with his team from Wester Hailes and villagers in Burkino Faso.

More than 1000 children in Burkino Faso villages now have access to clean water after a team from Wester Hailes flew over to help drill the wells.

The large sum of money was raised by members of the Holy Trinity Church, which allowed seven volunteers to join forces with a North American missionary organisation to install six Indian-made wells in two weeks.

Ian Stirrat, 62, an electrical engineer from South Queensferry and a life-long member of the Kirk, discovered the project a year ago.

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He presented the idea of forming a team to the 200-strong congregation of the church.

Talking about his experience, he said: “We’ve changed so many people’s lives.

“There is now a well in the backyard and children can go to school, instead of them ­having to walk three or four hours a day to find fresh water.

“It was an experience we will never forget and something I’ve got an appetite to do more of in the future.”

Mr Stirrat’s squad was made up of people who work in social care, local government and the NHS.

They flew out to Burkino Faso – the world’s fifth poorest country – at the beginning of February to begin their venture.

The men drilled holes ranging from 95 to 185 feet deep and Mr Stirrat told of how the team “exceeded” expectations by establishing six wells in the time they spent in the community, rather than the projected two.

He said the team of drillers slept on camp beds under the stars every night surrounded by a mosquito net during the operation.

He said: “As we slept outside every night, we could never really sleep past 6.15am because that’s when the sun would come up.

“We would wake to the noise of donkey’s and cockerels, just loads of animals.”

Three million people in Burkina Faso lack access to safe water.

He added: “The way the local people celebrated having clean water was spectacular. They were shouting with excitement and dancing around.

“It was extremely challenging working in such hot temperatures, some days we would be working in heat of up to 40C but it was worth it to see the looks on their faces when we had finished.”

Mr Stirrat said he got into a routine of visiting the gym and training before he flew out to Africa to ensure he was fit enough to carry out the work.

The men worked alongside relief workers from the Friends in Action charity.

Mr Stirrat added: “It is really easy to do this.

“It’s just a case of raising the money and getting a team together.

“The mission organisation is a well oiled machine.

“It’s been a terrific thing to be part of.”