AFTER losing everything in a house fire in 2004 the Barton family reassessed their lives and made a dramatic change.
With four children under the age of 14, Jenny and Russell Barton moved their family to Africa to start a new life.
“We had a whole shift of what was important to us in life and after seeing a presentation we decided it was a way to give back and expose our kids to a different culture,” Jenny said.
“We had never travelled outside of Australia and New Zealand and life was very comfortable.
“We honestly thought we would go for a year, we never envisioned that it would take over our lives.”
Within two years of living in Africa the couple founded the not-for-profit group Operation Uganda.
The organisation focuses primarily on the most vulnerable and destitute children.
“We mainly build schools and refurbish schools,” Jenny said.
They also gain sponsorships for children, empower women with projects and give support that makes a real difference to the most needy.
Russell said he was honoured to share in the lives of those that he supports.
“Over the past decade living in Uganda I’ve had the privilege and honour to see the absolute impact child sponsorship makes in the lives of vulnerable children and also the influence and lasting change it has on entire communities,” he said.
Currently in North Eastern Uganda 19,440 children don’t have access to a secondary education because of a lack of secondary schools in the district after years of civil unrest and extreme poverty.
The Barton family is trying to change that with the latest venture, Climb for Kids Charity Climb.
A group of 12 climbers will take on Mt Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest free-standing mountain, to raise funds to contribute to the building of a secondary school.
Each member, with seven from the Sunshine Coast, will pay for their own trip and raise $5000 towards the build.
“One hundred per cent of the money will go towards the build,” Jenny said, who is also doing the climb.
She has lost 26kgs in the lead up to prepare for the event.
“We have been training, hiking Mt Coolum, endurance days going to Noosa and back. Using what is in our backyard,” Jenny said of her training which she started two years ago.
“It is a big commitment to ask people to do.
“But we get to stand on the roof of Africa and make sure we leave something behind.”
The school will cost $100,000 to build and to help with the fundraising effort the group is hosting an event. Climb for Kids charity event will be held at Curleys on the boardwalk on January 20 from 3-6pm.