Derren Collins is the North Texas Coordinator for Project Hand Up. Derren is a liaison between Rotary International in Texas and Rotary Clubs in Africa. Derren has developed a program that uses puppetry and magic to promote HIV/AIDS education, educates children to Be Safe, Gender Equality and anti-stigma programs presented in village schools throughout the nation of Kenya.
Derren presented a program Thursday to a gathering of Hunt County civic leaders at the Landmark on Lee Street. The Greenville Rotary Clubs were sponsors of this endeavor.
The program is not without challenge. Upon Derren’s arrival in Kenya the project’s chief puppeteer died in an accident before the kick off. Derren thought that it would be more economical to purchase a car then sell it when he left Nairobi. The car that he purchased in Nairobi gave up the ghost on a lonely African road and it cost almost $1,500 to repair. The final blow came in April and May when hail storms and floods in North Texas damaged his Plano home that he had rented out for income.
The trip has its rewards. Project Hand Up teaches up to 2,500 children every week about treating their HIV infected peers with respect and how to remain disease free. So far Project Hand Up has presented the program to over 25,000 students. Tax deductible donations may be made to Project Hand Up. Go to projecthandup.org to donate.