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Assignment Africa

20 May 2010

A Costain-sponsored student has won a university award for her role in helping provide a community centre in an impoverished West African village.

Southampton University final year civil engineering and architecture student Claire Gott and her friend, Emily Hill, set up the charity organisation Cameroon Catalyst last autumn and are now close to completing construction of an educational and medical centre in the village of Bambouti.

Claire, Emily and a group of fellow engineering students are within £6,000 of a £50,000 target to build the centre. After linking up with Cameroon charity the Mosame Trust they employed a variety of fund-raising events such as selling doughnuts, organising football tournaments and seeking donations from firms and family for the project.

Claire's efforts won her the 'best student-led community volunteering project' in Southampton University's Excellence in Volunteering Awards. The judges considered criteria such as the amount of work contenders put into organising their projects and how successful they had been.

"Emily and I wanted to do something to use our engineering skills in our last year at university", explains Claire. "I'd done a lot of charity work before, including helping refurbish an orphanage in Tanzania.

"We started to look at countries and regions that weren't getting much support and heard about the Mosame Trust through a friend. Bambouti, a village of around 900 people, is where the founder of the Mosame Trust grew up."

The centre will include a classroom, library and community hall as well as medical facilities. Construction started in February and is due to finish in June. The Cameroon government has agreed to provide two teachers and a nurse for the new clinic.

"All 19 of us in the civil engineering group will be heading out there in June to help with the completion," adds Claire, who is waiting to discover to which Costain project she will be assigned.