By Monica Gibson

Malnourished kids in Kenya are set to get a lift to the tune of more than £2,000, thanks to a balloon launch in Barrhead.

Around 1,200 balloons were released into the sky above St Andrew’s Parish Church as part of an annual effort to raise funds for kids in one of Africa’s poorest slums.

Each contained a tag with the name of the balloon’s sponsor, with prizes on offer to the owners of those which travelled the longest distance.

Thirteen balloons having been found, one of them more than 100 miles from where it’s journey began, and £2162 raised.

The balloon which floated furthest was found in the Nottinghamshire market town of Newark.

Another made it as far as Newcastle, while others were recovered in the Borders.

A total of £2,162 was raised and this is being donated to Silanga High School, in the Kibera area of Kenya, where it will be used to create a kitchen and dining room.

Jim Mitchell, chairman of the Kibera Project, said: “Four churches contribute to the project and we are really pleased with the amount that has been raised.

“We send out tickets to everyone in the congregation and they can buy a ticket.

“We offer prizes for the balloons which have travelled farthest and also to those who return the balloons.

“A lot of people buy a ticket and make a donation, which is a big help in covering costs and adding to the tally.

“We are really appreciative of everyone who got involved again this year.”

Now in its 11th year, the project was started by members of Barrhead Bourock Parish Church who had visited a Presbyterian church in poverty-stricken Kibera.

Over the past decade, the high school has been built and electricity partly installed but there is still more to be done.

Mr Mitchell explained: “Last year, we were given a grant and a few of us went out on a bit of a fact-finding mission to Kibera to see how the project was doing.

“We spoke to the pupils and it was apparent something they needed was a kitchen. All they had was a tin hut with no roof and two stones, which they lit a fire under.

“This money will go toward creating a permanent building for them to be able to cook and eat.

“We sponsor 21 children but next to the school there is also a nursery and a children’s club which will be able to use the facilities.

“We have seen the drawings and planning permission has been granted and we hope building will start at the end of this year or early next.

“The next step will be in the hands of the contractor but local tradesmen will be sought to generate employment in the area. We hope the whole community can benefit from this money.”