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Gordon is a Man on a Mission. . .

A STRANRAER minister is to embark on a mission to help under privileged youngsters - in Peru.

Along with 12 other Church of Scotland ministers, Rev Gordon Kennedy will fly out to the Andes in January for a two-week mission starting in the capital, Lima, and then moving on to the Amazon River.

There, the Portpatrick and Stranraer St Ninian's minister plans to learn first hand about the medical problems afflicting the poverty-stricken population.

His role is to raise the profile of the work being done in the country by The Vine Trust, who have worked to establish better medical provision in the country. Relishing his first trip abroad on Christian duty the Reverend said he hoped to add some local expertise to the work of the organisation. He said:

"The church in Scotland is aware of the poverty and need among children and adults in the developing world and this is an opportunity to experience it first hand and to actually put names on faces.

"People actually queue up at river banks to see doctors who travel down the Amazon River on a medical ferry - it's as basic as that.

"I want to experience this and encourage others to help. We have people in this district who have expertise, be it medical or practical, and we need these people to be involved."

The invite to ministers originally came from the Peruvian Scripture Union in an appeal for support both morally and financially. Rev Kennedy plans to raise money by climbing the South of Scotland¹s largest hill, The Merrick standing at 844m, later this month to donate to the cause.

The 40-year-old, who is minister of Portpatrick Parish Church and St Ninian¹s Church in Stranraer, said:

"I have known about the work in Lima for a long time and have raised money for people out there already.

"This will be my first trip abroad on Christian work and will hopefully establish real bonds across the ocean.

"But it will not be a one-off. I am already thinking about what I can do next year to raise funds for the project and to encourage people to go across."

Rev Kennedy will meet the street children of Lima when he touches down in Peru on 20th January. These kids, he says, are abandoned by their families when they reach a certain age, and left on the streets where they suffer from disease, hunger and exploitation.

He will then spend a week on the ferry, Amazon Hope, which travels up and down the world¹s second longest river providing aid to those in need.

The ferry was donated by the Royal Navy four years ago and The Vine Trust hope to raise enough money to purchase a second medical boat soon. They also plan to build a health and education centre in Iquitos to serve an estimated 30,000 a year and a children's home in the Andes.

Anyone wishing to make a donation towards Rev Kennedy's charity hill climb, which he has organised for Friday, 28th November, can do so at the Free Press office.

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