In my bag . . .

PUBLISHED: 06:29 21 July 2014

The contents of Gaye Youngman's bag when she visited Uganda. Gaye with her bag. Picture: Denise Bradley

The contents of Gaye Youngman's bag when she visited Uganda. Gaye with her bag. Picture: Denise Bradley

copyright: Archant 2014

She helped found the Big C charity shops 20 years ago and established Norfolk charity LILAC - Ladies In League Against Cancer. Now, Gaye Youngman from Attleborough has embarked on a new fundraising challenge taking her thousands of miles away.

The contents of Gaye Youngman's bag when she visited Uganda. Toilet roll. Picture: Denise BradleyThe contents of Gaye Youngman's bag when she visited Uganda. Toilet roll. Picture: Denise Bradley

“I met George and Rosemary Willard, a Norfolk couple who had opened a school in Uganda, and I was so inspired by their story. In January, I visited the school for the first time and it a was life-changing experience,” she says.

The school more than 800 pupils, most of whom are orphans or have been abandoned.

“It not only offers them an education, but somewhere to live, to be cared for and kept safe. The hope is to break the cycle of poverty, to give these children a chance to change their their lives through education.”

Gaye admits she was shocked when she first arrived at the school and saw the primitive conditions.

The contents of Gaye Youngman's bag when she visited Uganda. Bacterial handwash. Picture: Denise BradleyThe contents of Gaye Youngman's bag when she visited Uganda. Bacterial handwash. Picture: Denise Bradley

“The level of poverty shook me rigid, but the children were amazing and so full of hope. I found it incredibly inspiring.”

The trip to Uganda required careful planning and Gaye says she had to think hard about what to carry with her.

“I needed a practical bag, so I took my trusty Dueter Lite rucksack which I have had for 20 years. I don’t think I have thought so hard before about what to pack in it; it really made me think about all the things I usually carry which I think I need.”

The contents of Gaye Youngman's bag when she visited Uganda. Water bottle. Picture: Denise BradleyThe contents of Gaye Youngman's bag when she visited Uganda. Water bottle. Picture: Denise Bradley

Toilet paper

There are no proper toilets at the school, just basic drop toilets like holes in the ground, so toilet roll is a must, and secondly the children are constantly climbing all over you with runny noses.

Carex Complete Protect Plus Hand Gel, 50ml £1.99.

The contents of Gaye Youngman's bag when she visited Uganda. Sony camera. Picture: Denise BradleyThe contents of Gaye Youngman's bag when she visited Uganda. Sony camera. Picture: Denise Bradley

Hygiene levels are very poor and there is no running water. The children walk a mile to the spring to collect their water every day.

Bottled water

We take clean water on tap for granted, but when you can’t get it easily it really makes you think. I went through a lot of bottled water in the heat – and gave a lot to the children.

The contents of Gaye Youngman's bag when she visited Uganda. Vaseline tin. Picture: Denise BradleyThe contents of Gaye Youngman's bag when she visited Uganda. Vaseline tin. Picture: Denise Bradley

Camera, Sony Cyber-shot, 10X Optical Zoom, from £179.95.

I took a lot of photographs to show people back home what it was like and how their support could help. But also, it was a lot of fun making videos with the children, their smiles were magical.

The contents of Gaye Youngman's bag when she visited Uganda. Swiss Army penknife. Picture: Denise BradleyThe contents of Gaye Youngman's bag when she visited Uganda. Swiss Army penknife. Picture: Denise Bradley

Jar of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly, 250ml, £2.65

I always use Vaseline anyway, but it was a real life saviour in Africa. My lips were incredibly cracked and my skin was so dry because of the heat and dust, so I used it constantly.

And a little something else . . .

Swiss Army Knife, Wenger, £29.99.

It was a present from my son-in-law before I left and I couldn’t have got by without it. It has scissors, a screwdriver, all sorts of things and it was constantly in use.

The charity is currently fundraising to bring the school’s choir to the UK in the autumn. For more information, see www.africawithlove.co.uk.

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