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Archie's Haiti role

PUBLISHED: 12:05 03 September 2010 | UPDATED: 09:18 16 September 2010

IN a year that has seen one disaster after another it would be very easy to forget the people of Haiti still struggling after the horrendous earthquake seven months ago.

IN a year that has seen one disaster after another it would be very easy to forget the people of Haiti still struggling after the horrendous earthquake seven months ago.

But Archie Abel is determined we don't forget by vowing to make the 4,468-mile journey there to make a difference.

The 33-year-old from Beccles is leaving the town on September 30 to spend four months working for Hands on Disaster Response who are committed to rebuilding people's homes and lives.

And his mother, popular artist Doreen Abel has helped to raise money for his flight and the hefty price of insurance in her own imitable style.

Doreen said: “When he first mentioned his intentions I felt a mixture of anxiety and obvious pride and immediately set about gathering support from family, friends and fellow artists to raise the cash needed.

“I've never been one for rattling cans and waving sponsor forms but it occurred to me that every £1 raised equated to seven miles of his 4468-mile journey.”

Doreen and Archie went out and purchased several metres of knicker elastic and a toy plane, which they pinned to the ceiling of Doreen's gallery Abel Arts, based at the Raveningham Centre, to represent his progress.

She then enlisted the support of local businesses to provide raffle prizes, alongside holding a 'messy day' during which many enthusiastic ladies and fellow artists paid good money to leave their hand prints on Archie's t-shirt.

“Our grand total amounted to £1,540” said Doreen. “Many, many thanks to all who helped make Archie's idea a reality. He won't let us down.”

Everything that Archie takes to Haiti will have to be carried on his back and his bed for four months will be in a tent. He is planning to leave space in his travel bag for items that are included on a wish-list from the people of Haiti.

He said: “I've done a lot of travelling and I've seen a lot of projects that I've wanted to get involved in. I wanted to give something back.

“Disasters like these get their bit of air time but after it stops being in the papers, they seem to slip from people's minds and they assume everything is fine.”

Archie, who will be helping to rebuild homes, thanked everyone for their support in helping to send him to Haiti.

“These are people that I've not known for very long but they will be friends for life,” he said.

If you would like the opportunity to own an original oil painting by Doreen of a Haitian sunset, sealed bids starting at £50 can be placed from tomorrow at Abel Arts Gallery, with all proceeds going to Haiti.

Archie will be at the gallery from noon to 4pm on Sunday to meet people who have supported him.

He is also planning to write a blog to keep Journal readers up to date with his progress.

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