In 2006, Higham Ferrers woman Sandra Murphy took a trip to Uganda and witnessed things she would never forget.
After being ripped apart by years of conflict, the country is home to thousands of displaced families and children.
Since that visit, Sandra has spent years improving the lives of hundreds of young Ugandan children who have lost parents, been forced to flee their homes or been subjected to abuse.
Sandra said her journey to Uganda began more than a year earlier, when she travelled to India to volunteer for a charity there after having a desire to help.
Sandra said: “I returned from India not really having the answers I had wanted. One night I had a dream where I was surrounded by hundreds of black children and thought ‘I have got to listen to this’ so I began researching what I could do in Africa.”
Sandra travelled to Uganda and visited camps where people displaced by the country’s civil war were living.
She said: “I was shocked at what I saw. There were many families headed by children. Young girls were being forced to prostitute themselves to support younger siblings and there were many orphans and children living on the streets.”
Two years later, in 2008, Sandra returned to Uganda after having raised funds in the meantime.
She began working directly with children, virtually all of whom were suffering from severe trauma.
Sandra said her aim was to improve the lives of youngsters by giving them vocational training in fields as varied as engineering, tailoring, catering and hairdressing. The charity, called One Step At A Time, now has a permanent office in Uganda and employs four people as well as three social workers. Sandra estimates she has worked with more than 80 children already, and that there are about 50 others who are being sponsored by people in the UK.
To find out more about the charity, visit www.one-step-at-a-time.org.uk or search for the charity on Facebook.
How you can help
Sandra said one of the main ways to help children in Uganda improve their lives has been through sponsorship – which pays for education, school materials and uniforms.
However, another way to help is by volunteering.
One Step At A Time accepts volunteers and there is lots of information on the charity’s website about how you can apply and what Uganda is like.
The charity also hosts a number of fundraisers throughout the year and information is available at the website.