A GLASGOW aid agency is embarking on a fact-finding mission to develop some of the poorest communities in a former war-torn African country.

Volunteer Ross Galbraith, from Glasgow the Caring City, will see first hand how children and their families are living as part of the charity's Southern Sudan Project.

He will be joined on the week-long trip by South Side MSP James Dornan, and one of their first stop-off points will be a return visit to Matthew's Farm in the Katire region. They will also be travelling through areas of Uganda to visit community schemes there.

Matthew's Farm is close Ross's heart as he helped raise cash for it with help from the people of Glasgow.

From humble beginnings in 2006, it has become a lifeline as it helped communities grow their own produce. It has also changed the lives and shaped the futures of young people previously child soldiers in Sudan's bloody civil war.

Following the success of the project, Ross believes now is the time to help the people of the town of Ikotos to further develop education, health and welfare.

Ross said: "It is years since I last visited the southern Sudan area and this trip has come at the right time.

"Matthew's Farm has been a huge success and is now self-sustaining.

"What started out with just four people being taught how to sow seeds and grow their own produce has ended up with 400 people graduating from the agricultural project.

"They are now small-holders supporting and feeding their families. It is now a case of building on this and developing health, education and welfare. That's why we want to get out there and see exactly what the community needs."

T HERE could be training colleges, vocational colleges and projects which will engage young people.

Said Ross: "It is only once we spend time with people there, we will know how Glasgow the Caring City can help them."

One youngster who has benefited from his time at Matthew's Farm is Imani.

At eight years old, Imani was abducted from his famly by rebel forces and made to fight. When the conflict ended in 2005, he was abandoned and left to fend for himself.

Glasgow the Caring City's Matthew's Farm project was there to support children like him and other young people at risk.

Imani began attending classes on Matthew's Farm, where he was taught the skills he needed to become a farmer, as well as the traditional skills of reading, writing and numbers.

Today, he is 15 and helping other young people to overcome their trauma and begin a new life.

Last year the charity despatched high-value aid to the farm, including a Land Rover which was converted to run mainly on sunflower oil so Matthew's Farm could grow its own fuel. The vehicle transports people from remote locations to clinics, markets and colleges.

Ross's father Rev Neil Galbraith, minister for Old Cathcart Parish Church, founded the charity in 1999 to help Kosovan refugees arriving in the UK.

Thirteen years on, it carries out humanitarian work in nearly 60 countries, including Uganda.

Hyndland Primary 3 pupils have created a folder about the history of their school, Glasgow, and the area they are from, which will be presented during the trip by Ross to one of the charity's partnership schools, in Teongora.

Cathcart SNP MSP James Dornan is closely involved with the charity, which is based in his constituency.

Mr Dornan said: "I am sure it will be an exhausting but exhilarating trip. I am keen to see the self-sustaining projects which the Caring City is involved in.

"My intention will be to highlight the work being done by the charity in the Scottish Parliament and how we can help support what they do for communities such as those in Sudan."

deborah.anderson@ eveningtimes.co.uk