Meet Alfred. He’s short like me – except he’s vertically challenged because he didn’t have enough to eat, whereas I only have my genes to blame.

Last year I supported Alfred’s training at Kira Farm, Uganda – a place where he could learn the skills required to ensure his future kids don’t end up short for the same bad reason.

Every month Alfred emailed to let me know how his classes were going in subjects like conservation farming and construction. And in reply I, um, told him I had a dog that slept in our house, she had a name, a bed and toys.

Rat hunting

He thought the concept of a pet was simply hilarious. Equally, I was a little surprised to discover that when times were tight back home he’d pick up a bow and arrow and go rat hunting. He assured me they were pretty tasty. I told him I'd take his word for it.

And then it went silent for 9 months. Alfred had finished his year at Kira Farm and there’s not much in the way of wi-fi in a land filled with mud huts.

Today I heard how Alfred is getting on. I was happy to discover that the bottle is no longer his constant companion because he doesn’t need to drink away his despair.

Hiding from rebel soldiers

The first thing he did when he got home was persuade his family to move. They’d been living close to mountains where they could run and hide if rebel soldiers from the long-finished war ever returned (his dad had been captured by the rebel army). In this remote area there was only dirty water – and everyone kept getting sick.

They moved to a village where they could access clean water and Alfred quickly knocked up a few sturdy homes with the help of his recently-acquired construction skills.

The next job was farming - once he’d grown enough crops to feed his family Alfred began passing on his new climate-friendly skills to a community group. They were ready and waiting with their hoes – they’d seen Alfred’s giant maize and wanted to find out the secret to his success. I’m guessing the bow and arrow is now collecting dust at the back of his hut.

Prison volunteering

That wasn’t enough for Alfred. Keen to help ‘others like him’ he volunteered in the local prison, teaching the conflict resolution techniques he’d learnt at Kira Farm and bringing a whole lot of peace to the inmates.

It worked out nicely for Alfred too - when the authorities discovered he knew how to build he got a gig renovating part of the prison. He made a tidy profit of £130 and created jobs for two young people in the process.

Right now he’s busy making a go of his tailoring business (yep, he learnt how to do that too) and thanks to the money he’s making his family don’t have to go to bed at 7pm every night - when it gets dark - because they can afford kerosene for a lamp.

I think Alfred and I would see eye to eye (literally), and say that was £1.37 a day well spent. Do you fancy sponsoring a Kira Farm student and getting some stonkingly good, blow-your-mind, news in due course? If you have any height requirements I’m sure they can be met :)

Rachel Lewis