While many politicians have been relaxing during their summer holidays, Birmingham’s only Conservative MP has been spending his break spearheading a charity drive in Africa.
Andrew Mitchell (Sutton Coldfield), his party’s International Development spokesman, launched this year’s Project Umubano, the Conservative Party’s social action project in Rwanda.
Ten MPs and 11 prospective parliamentary candidates are among 103 volunteers who also include doctors, nurses, entrepreneurs, teachers, lawyers and local councillors, who have devoted two weeks of their time to the project in Rwanda, working in health, education, justice, the private sector, and a community centre construction project.
“Project Umubano is our chance to roll up our sleeves and work alongside Rwandans to help tackle poverty and promote development,” said Mr Mitchell.
“Global poverty is the greatest moral challenge of our time, and we are looking forward to making a personal contribution, however small, to improving lives in one of the poorest countries in the world. The project will also help educate and inform our volunteers about the realities of international development.”
Project Umubano is due to finish this weekend and Mary Blewitt, from the Rwandan Survivors Fund, said: “This project is a model of cooperation between people in the UK and Rwanda, and I hope other individuals and institutions will follow its lead.”
Adrian Lovett, Save the Children’s director of campaigns and communications, added: “Millions of people across Britain are calling on politicians to do everything in their power to help save children’s lives and make poverty history. Project Umubano 2008 is an important opportunity for Conservative volunteers, MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates to deepen their understanding of the challenges facing developing countries. They will meet people they will never forget. It’s vital that they bring those people’s voices to the heart of British politics when they return.”
Among the volunteers, who have covered the cost of their flights and accommodation, are prospective parliamentary candidates Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire), Chris Kelly (Dudley South), Hazel Noonan (Coventry North-east), Mark Pawsey (Rugby) and Maggie Throup (Solihull).