‘Humbling’ honour for Alan Kerins’ African Projects to be chosen as charity of year by Hewlett Packard

Thumbs up from a young supporter for the work of the Alan Kerins Projects.

Thumbs up from a young supporter for the work of the Alan Kerins Projects.

The founder of a local charity has said it is a “deeply, humbling honour” to be chosen by key local employer Hewlett Packard as its charity of the year for 2011.

Clarinbridge sportsman and physiotherapist Alan Kerins, who transformed the lives of thousands of Zambian people, set up the Alan Kerins African Projects charity. It is based in Ballybane.

He said the company has a long tradition of being involved with charities in Galway.

“We are delighted that this year HP has chosen AKP. The support of HP’s employees will elevate our work significantly. We see this as a very good opportunity which we can learn from each other.”

Mark Gantly, the managing director of HP Galway, said it was delighted to be associated with the Alan Kerins Projects, a local charity with an international mission.

“We look forward to working with AKP over the next year. We expect our employees to participate enthusiastically in a range of fund-raising activities and also to connect directly with projects on the ground in Africa.”

HP will organise fundraising events which will support the Alan Kerins Projects for children and young people in the western province of Zambia. The organisation has worked in partnership with local organisations to construct community and educational facilities and to set up income-generating activities in the area.

Hewlett Packard employees will help raise funds for the charity and some may participate in the projects in Zambia. The funds generated will be used to support its latest venture - a sports, recreation and training centre for children and young people in Zambia.

This multi-functional facility will include a central, multi-purpose hall that can be used for indoor sports as well as other educational and community purposes. The facility will be surrounded by a number of auxillary programme rooms which will cater for activities such as life skill, leadership and citizenship training, drama and theatre and adolescent friendly health services. Part of the complex will include visitor accommodation which can be used for volunteers and staff.

The main objectives of the centre will be to improve access to information, recreation and training and to increase opportunities for civic engagement for children and young people, explains Mr Kerins.

“The centre will be youth led and will involve full collaboration with the local community. It aims to deliver sports, recreational and social civic engagement programmes, to engage the local children and youth and actively involve them in their community. As part of the programme it is intended to establish a youth-led information centre, which will serve to improve access to information and raise awareness, particularly among young girls, about the potential risks and ways to protect themselves against contracting HIV.”

It is proposed that the centre will be constructed in Kaoma town. A site has been identified by the local authorities and preliminary discussions have been held with the Land Commission in Kaoma, which visited the site with Alan Kerins and local community leaders. Negotiations are under way to secure the site.

“This programme proposes to assist children and youth affected by HIV/Aids using a combination of integrated sports, training and civic engagement interventions. The facility and services will be youth-led and will provide a place of refuge for vulnerable children and youth. It will offer them an opportunity for personal development through sports, training and civic engagement activities.

“Our vision is for the facility to act as a beacon for all organisations that target children and young people through their programmes. Organisations will be able to use the centre as a forum for imparting training programmes to their target group and to impact areas, such as, HIV/Aids, adult literacy, gender awareness and children’s rights.”

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