July 23 2014 Latest news:
Monday, May 12, 2014
When retired truck driver and football enthusiast Aled Owen lost his wife nine years ago, he set out to fill his time with voluntary work.
But the grandfather from Sudbury never imagined his charitable work would take him to the other side of the world – especially not at the age of 76.
Mr Owen has just returned from a “very humbling” six-month stint in south east Africa, where he taught sports skills to underprivileged children.
He also assisted with the creation of a maize garden to help feed children at a nearby orphanage through the winter months.
Mr Owen, who used to manage a football team in Great Cornard many years ago, undertook the mission to work at schools in the Tikondwe region with the charity Original Volunteers.
Before he left, he put out a plea via the EADT for sports clothes, footballs, whistles, stopwatches and stationary, which he took with him on his trip.
Although he is no stranger to voluntary work having previously given his time as a volunteer ambulance driver and a school crossing lollipop man, Mr Owen said nothing could have prepared him for his latest role.
“My first impression of Malawi was shock at the extreme poverty,” said Mr Owen.
“I went to a village called Domasi where they was no electricity, the water came from a pump and we cooked over an open fire.
“I stayed in the village with other volunteers, and the local people who were poor but so very humble, would share any food they had with us.”
Mr Owen helped coach a football team of 15 boys aged between 13 and 15.
He added: “The whole experience was very humbling. I would love to do it again if finances allow and I would totally recommend it to anyone, whatever their age.”