FOUR years after Troon clergyman Richard Woods outlined his dream of providing a new school in third world country Haiti, it is finally about to become reality.

Through his work with Christian charity, Mission International, Richard has helped raise £140,000 within that time and he hopes that pupils will be sitting behind desks in Ouanaminthe as soon as early next year.

But the Seagate Church Pastor insists fundraising has to go on, with hopes of building a new church and community centre the following year.

And he is delighted with the efforts of pupils in schools throughout Troon, who have raised £3,500 for the project though various fundraisers and hopes they can forge links with the children they are helping.

Richard is excited with progress and said: “We are six weeks away from the engineer and architect heading out and building will then start. Phase one will have nine classrooms and a dinner hall and kitchen as well as staff administrative facilities. Hopefully that will be finished by the end of 2018. Building work starts in May.

“Then in phase two we will add nine classrooms and double hope the size of the school. After that we will help build a church and community centre a mile away.

“Hopefully in phase one we will have children in the school learning by the start of 2019 when we will be raising money for phase two. I’m hoping that the church leader from Ouanaminthe, Rolex Poisson will come to Troon to talk about the project in late May or early June and an event is planned at Troon Episcopal Church to do with a tapestry project they are involved in.”

He is impressed with the fundraising undertaken by the Troon schools -Troon, Barassie, Struthers, Dundonald, Muirhead and St Patrick’s Primaries, along with Marr College have all been involved in helping us with what we are trying to do. 

He said: “They have been amazing, so far they have raised just under £3500 - from after Christmas until now. They did a walk to Haiti, which between them all covered the distance from Troon to Haiti and also collected old discarded shoes and gave them to Clark’s who have a scheme whereby they will weigh shoes and give them to UNICEF.

“They are also helping with the School in a Box scheme, which is everything you need in a classroom for one year, including maps, pens and books and hopefully someone has a connection with long distance shipping who could get them sent over. We have raised enough for School in a Box to support everyone in first phase in 2019. Also we would like schools to partner with ones in Ouanaminthe through Skype or Facetime as there’s a great deal of benefit for children in connecting with other children in less well off parts of the world. We are also in discussion with South Ayrshire Council about second hand desks which they don’t need after re-fitting classrooms.”

Project organisers are now raising money for solar panels, which are needed as Ouanaminthe doesn’t have electricity.

Added Richard: “I’m doing this as I’m a Christian and Christian Minister and the Bible makes it clear that Christians should be at the forefront of social justice and charity. The Haiti literacy rate of 55 per cent means one in every two children don’t have any meaningful opportunity to go to school.

"I’m not able to change Haiti but the children of Haiti and the people of Haiti are the ones who are able to change their country but they’re only able to do that if we support them.”

He wants people to do sponsored events or make Mission International their chosen charity.. His daughter Lucy has signed up for the Great North Swim at Windermere in the summer term.

For details, call Richard on 07904 972733.