Dorothy’s charity is making real difference

Margaret Atkins with Adonis
Margaret Atkins with Adonis

A charitable trust set up in Sierra Leone in memory of a Harborough woman has helped fund new premises in the West African country.

When Dorothy Springer funded a West African man’s education in the UK several years ago, it sparked a chain of events that led to the opening of new premises in Sierra Leone last month which have been named in her honour.

Dr Abdulai Dambuya had his college and university education paid for by the Harborough woman in 1992.

She had secretly funded Mr Dambuya’s training and when he found out following Dorothy’s death in 2003, he was so overwhelmed by her kindness that he set up the charitable trust in her name to help others in Sierra Leone.

The Dorothy Springer Trust promotes the use of IT training and employment for disabled people in Sierra Leone.

In 2010, the trust’s Sierra Leone headquarters was launched and recognised a need for training as well as equipment which disabled people could use.

And last month the trust opened its brand new premises in the centre of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

Students there will now be able to follow a basic course there and then attend colleges in the area once they are able to progress to more advanced educational courses.

Dorothy’s daughter Margaret Atkins was invited to the opening of the new premises on February 7.

More than 150 people attended, including many local dignataries.

Margaret said: “Thanks to the efforts of the trust’s chief executive and founder Dr Dumbuya, the office has been magnificently renovated, providing ramp access to one side of the building in addition to the front steps.

It is well-equipped and also includes an internet cafe, coffee bar and conference room.

“Hopefully the income generated will eventually enable the premises to be self-sufficient so that all donations can be devoted to the disabled students.”

Since the trust’s launch, several students have gone on to gain jobs, including four who have joined the Sierra Leone police force and now work in communications and planning.

A plaque was unveiled by the country’s deputy minister for social welfare, Mustapha Bai Atilla.