A NEWPORT charity which mostly funds itself through salsa dance teaching has helped more than 900 people in Gambia have free, safe light for 10 years.

The charity, called Dance2Learn, also helped provide water and electricity for a school of 3,500 students and mosquito nets for 600 people.

Charity director Mei Catherall, 52, of Bassaleg, first visited Gambia in 2009 for a holiday.

He said: “I found a school that had been forgotten by the government but had 3,500 students.

“I thought I can do something about this.”

Now, Dance2learn is focusing on providing solar lights to a community around Gunjur, in Gambia.

“These lights mean the children are not reliant on kerosene and avoids the dangers posed by naked flames as well as the unaffordable cost of candles,” Mr Catherall said. “At around £15, a Wakawaka light provides 16 hours of light per day for a family of up to nine for a guaranteed period of 10 years.

“The lights are not simply given away but are on a needs basis. Those able to pay received one at a much subsidised rate.

“The money raised from this is used to restore the eyesight of some of the community members.

“We have just returned from Gambia to see the results of the first part of our Solar Lighting Project, where it was heart-warming to see the lights charging on the roofs of the compounds.”

Apart from accepting donations, Dance2Learn holds dance events, provides fun wedding entertainment and corporate team-building exercises.

“We also hold weekly salsa classes at The Potters in Newport to fund the trips to oversee the results for transparency,” he said. “This way, the money raised by Dance2Learn can go entirely towards buying the lights.”

Mr Catherall would like to thank people for their donations. To find out more, visit Dance2Learn.org, their Facebook page Dance2Learn or call 07841775351.