A retired skipper in Fraserburgh is helping to make life better for people in one of the poorest countries in the world.
William Whyte has already set up a farm in Uganda, provided fresh drinking water for local communities and helped to ship two scanners for pregnant women.
Now another three scanners, courtesy of Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, will be sent to Africa.
Mr Whyte’s charity, Oor Bairns Charitable Trust, makes money by recycling steel, scrap metal and old fishing nets.
The nets are donated by the pelagic fleet, with boats in Lerwick being very good donators.
Nets are often collected by his son Will, who is the current skipper of the family boat, The Grateful. They are then sent to Russia where they are melted down and turned into cash.
Jocelyn Reid, 45, lead midwife and consultant sonographer at Raigmore Hospital said: “William has done a mountain of work for the region of Nakasongola. He has helped to build a school and a scan suite. He sent two scan machines out there and has also funded two sonographers, myself and Aileen Paterson from Raigmore, to go out and train the medical staff in Nakasongola.
“He is amazing. I’ve never met anybody like him. I know he is my uncle but he is completely and utterly selfless.
“We were due to go out again last year but because of Covid we had to cancel.
“We have got very close connections with Nakasongola through a Whatsapp group. They send us clips and we give advice. Because of these scanners they have been able to diagnose ectopic pregnancies and save lives.
“Thanks to the training lives have been saved and that is all down to William. All we do as sonographers is give up one week of annual leave to go out there. He funds it.
“We look forward to going back out there and doing more training when we can.”
Pentagon freight service in Aberdeen sent the first scanners to Uganda for free.
The latest three top spec scanners about to be shipped out are worth in the region of £80-120,000 new.
Mr Whyte said: “Every penny I get for recycling the nets goes to help people. The fishing has been good to me, I’m trying to help people not so fortunate as myself.
“I have just been donated three scanners from Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. We took two scanners out a couple of years ago. It is incredible the amount of lives saved.
“I just want to say thank you to Raigmore Hospital. I hope to get the scanners out there soon.”
He spoke about a recent situation. Mr Whyte said: “The sonographer out in Uganda sent a scan via Whatsapp. The sonographer in Inverness read it and sent a message back saying ‘induce immediately’. Two days later we had a picture of a beautiful baby girl. The reply to Uganda from Raigmore was ‘a job well done, two lives saved’. That’s just one case.”
Cash raised by recycling old nets has been used to purchase solar panels and pumps to provide fresh running water.
Places where fresh water pumps were installed include Hope Village in Nakasongola area, Bethel High School in the same area and The Oor Bairns farm nearby.
The retired Fraserburgh skipper said: “You don’t realise how fortunate you are living in a country like Scotland.
“Before the water pumps went in they had to walk a kilometre or so for fresh water. I have had letters of thanks. A girl wrote to me and said, ‘thank you Uncle Willie, I am now able to wash and keep myself clean’. She told me that before the pump went in, some of the girls were raped at night when they went to get water.
“Now there is a tap just outside the girls dormitory and one outside the boys. There are six taps on either side of the school for the community to use.”
The charity has bought a farm in Nakasongola which now employs 14 people. Mr Whyte explained: “I’m trying to help them become self sufficient. They have got 6,000 chickens and last month they sold 64,000 eggs. They also grow maize and water melons.
“I have been out there six or eight times. If there hadn’t been Covid I’d have been out at least twice in the last year.”
The scanners are now ready for shipping. Mr Whyte added: “The lives they will save. The national health in Uganda has never seen anything like it.
“These are to be there for the poorest who need it the most, and they will not be charged.”
The retired Fraserburgh skipper formed his charity after helping out at an orphanage in Uganda with the Irish charity New Beginnings, when he forged links with the high school next door.