A CHRISTIAN minister brought the plight of Ugandan women to a Darlington classroom this week.

Former refugee Elizabeth Kiwunga was deported to Uganda from Darlington several years ago and is now heading a project aimed at turning around the lives of women in the deprived village of Kalule.

Her friend, Darlington-based minister Mel Stand recently visited the village and is now sharing her experiences with school children in a bid to raise awareness and promote Fair Trade ethics.

On Monday, she visited year seven pupils at St Aidan’s Academy, where children have been fundraising in aid of the project for three years.

The pupils were given the chance to look at and make local crafts while hearing the stories of the women behind them, many of whom experienced domestic violence, rape and prostitution.

They also learned that their fundraising efforts had provided a communal outdoor oven for the village.

Mrs Stand said: “They were gobsmacked and really moved by the stories they heard – during the lesson some girls took it upon themselves to write letters to the women to say they were thinking of them.

“It’s really important to do this so that children can understand what happens in other countries and learn that they can make a real difference to people.

“Children are often taught that there’s just one of them and they can’t have any real impact but this helps them to realise that they can.

“They saw photos of their oven in the village and they know that they put it there and that they’re making a difference.”

Mrs Stand is the Senior Youth Worker for Darlington Area Churches Youth Ministry (DACYM) and also acts as chaplain at St Aiden’s Academy.