Gardens open day to raise funds for famine stricken East Africa

A burst of summer colour will be on offer to visitors of the six Open Gardens this weekend.
A burst of summer colour will be on offer to visitors of the six Open Gardens this weekend.

ISLAND gardens in the Breasclete to Carloway area of Lewis are to open to the public on Saturday, July 30, in a bid to raise funds for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) East Africa Crisis Appeal.

Organised by Carloway resident Stuart Oakley, who annually opens his garden at Leathad Ard as part of the Scotland’s Gardens Scheme (SGS), the special one-off Open Day will take place between 11am and 5pm, with a total of six gardens to visit.

“The gardens are all quite different, ranging from the neat to the less tidy, from large to small, some with an emphasis on veg and others on flowers; all with interest for all gardeners from the dedicated to the armchair,” said Stuart.

A map of Open Day Gardens will be available at the first signposted garden coming from either Callanish or Breasclete, and a minimum donation of £4 is asked, plus £2 for teas and nibbles if desired.

Such an Open Day was run around six years ago to raise funds for Bethesda Hospice and Care Home, and proved immensely popular.

This year however, with areas of Africa facing the first famine in the region since South Sudan in 1998, money raised on the day will be donated to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal.

Over 10 million people are at risk in East Africa due to conflict and some areas being affected by the worst drought in 60 years.

Caught up in the crises are thousands of families trekking for days across parched scrubland from Somalia to Kenya – including barefoot children with no food or water.

And this week the UN declared famine in the regions of Bakool and Lower Shabelle, saying that malnutrition has reached 50 per cent in some areas. A level of 15 per cent is considered an emergency, with 30 per cent or more being one of the indicators of famine.

In addition, more than six children under the age of five per 10,000 are dying each day.

Stuart Oakley commented: “I saw the appeal on the TV and thought that, although we complain about the financial situation in the UK, we have so much compared to the East African population.”

The DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal will support the work of members in affected areas of Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan with donations helping to provide life-saving aid such as food, water, care for malnourished children and medical treatment.

DEC Chief Executive Brendan Gormley said: “Slowly but surely, these people have seen their lives fall apart – crops, livestock and now their homes have been taken by the drought.

“They’ve been left with no alternative but to seek shelter and life-saving help elsewhere. We have a duty to help quickly before the situation spirals out of control.”

Donations can also be made directly to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal at, by phone 0370 6060 900, by post to PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA, or by texting ‘CRISIS’ to 70000 to donate £5.

Have you organised any fundraising activities to help the East African famine victims? If so, let us know by emailing or calling the Gazette newsdesk on 01851 702687.