Page last updated at 00:06 GMT, Friday, 14 May 2010 01:06 UK

Apprentice adviser Nick Hewer's Rwanda mission

By Neil Bowdler
Health Reporter, BBC News

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Nick Hewer describes his visit to Rwanda

Nick Hewer is the silver-haired adviser of Lord Sugar in The Apprentice and Junior Apprentice.

He can usually be seen grimacing in the corner of car parks as would-be apprentices try to outshout each other - or squinting his eyes incredulously in "the boardroom" as the contestants' claws come out.

But there is another side to Hewer. He has a love of France, travel and vintage tractors - and he works as a patron for a children's charity.

Last year, that role took him to the Great Lakes region of Africa and specifically to post-genocide Rwanda.

Killing spree

He first became involved with Hope & Homes for Children when he took part in a charity rally and drove from London to Mongolia. En route, he stopped off in Romania to see one of their projects and decided to get more involved.

Something like one in five children dies under the age of five
Nick Hewer

The charity tries to help with housing and healthcare for vulnerable children and their families in 10 Eastern European and African countries.

"They're essentially ensuring that children grow up in a family environment, but in Rwanda particularly that they're taken out of malnutrition and grow up to be healthy kids - that's the core objective," says Hewer.

In Rwanda, he found what he describes as a repressed population still living with the legacy of the 1994 genocide in which tribal militia went on a killing spree. An estimated 800,000 people were killed in 100 days.

"Rwanda is a country that's got a lot of problems. One million are orphans. Sixty percent of the whole population is malnourished.

Nick Hewer in his role as Lord Sugar's special adviser
Nick Hewer in his role as Lord Sugar's special adviser

"Something like one in five children dies under the age of five. Of what? Malnutrition, malaria, HIV/Aids. It's inexcusable that children should die of malnutrition."

His visit took in "hubs", built to provide shelter, clean water, food and healthcare for children and vulnerable families.

"What do they get? Inoculations, HIV testing, the weighing and the follow-through with the children so they come back again and again, so they're brought back up to proper weight levels."

Self-help is also part of the project. Families are encouraged to keep rabbits as a low-cost source of protein, and there are small "micro" loans to encourage enterprise in the most difficult of circumstances. Something that clearly appeals to the business adviser in Hewer.

RWANDA HEALTH FACTS
One in five Rwandan children dies before their fifth birthday
About 30% of infant and child mortality rates are as a result of Malaria
Nearly half of all children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition
More than 40% of infants suffer from stunted growth as a result

"I saw one young kid, he was 14, he looked about eight because he was so malnourished, he was tiny. He was sleeping in the corner of a mud hut that is about the size of a potting shed without anything in it.

"He's now clothed and back in school, but critically, they gave him £20 so he could start a peanut business, roasting them in his little hut and selling them in the market.

"That little kid can now afford to feed himself, clothe himself and pay his school fees... and suddenly he's a little businessman. Wonderful."

High-profile names can help raise awareness of a disease or condition, and bring it under the spotlight. This video series talks to those in the public eye about their personal reasons for speaking out.



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