Charity success at Genna Wilkinson's Open Arms Charity Ball!

PUBLISHED: 13:36 18 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:11 20 February 2013

THE Open Arms Charity Ball has raised a staggering £7,500 to help fund 38 rural community projects in Uganda.

THE Open Arms Charity Ball has raised a staggering 7,500 to help fund 38 rural community projects in Uganda.

The black tie event at Sandy Park, Exeter, was attended by 176 guests who enjoyed a three course meal, the popular band Basher Tate, a highly entertaining magician and very busy casino tables.

I am so thankful to everyone who came to the ball, they made it such a fantastic night, said Genna Wilkinson, the founder and international director of Open Arms. The fundraising committee are all volunteers and they did an absolutely superb job of organising the event. So many people that came have been contacting us this week saying what a fantastic night they had and we are still receiving more generous donations for the projects.

Genna (29) returned from Uganda to her home city of Exeter to attend the ball and she is now promoting the charity and marketing goods made by the various Open Arms projects. Six years ago Genna founded the charity and has worked tirelessly to establish grass roots projects which help families build a sustainable future through a variety of programmes which provide high quality vocational training, life skills, training, business training, start up loans and improved access to other markets, including international markets.

Genna said: The ball was about more than raising funds for the projects, it was about sharing with the local community, supporters, friends and family, what we are doing in Uganda and how our approach to development will impact the individuals we work with and ultimately how it will help them send their own children to school, bring running water and power to their own community and help them develop their community the way they want it.

We want to raise awareness of what we are doing and we would love to encourage people to come and visit the projects and experience Ugandas beauty and vitality as well as watch as our projects grow and have the opportunity to purchase the products that the members make and see how they continually improve.

Open Arms is currently looking for market outlets for its products which include African fabric bags, throws, necklaces, shoes and accessories. A designer from the film, Lord of the Rings from New Zealand has been training Open Arms producers to design new products. The girls and ladies are now continuously coming up with unique and very beautiful designs of bags, accessories and kitchen and dining products such as aprons, and place mats, said Genna.

Genna is in the UK until the beginning of January and is very keen to arrange a group trip for local people in the area to come to Uganda in summer 2011.

Open Arms funds help many people transform their lives from poverty to prosperity, said Genna. Our projects target the youth, widows, single mothers and other disadvantaged individuals in such communities.

One of the projects is training students in a variety of trades, from tailoring and carpentry to shoe making and sewing and also passing these skills on in their own communities. Students are loaned tools and machines and are taught business skills and can access start-up loans when they complete their training, which also includes sessions on sanitation, HIV, family planning and malaria prevention.

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