A group of Christian volunteers are returning to the Gambia in Africa to continue trying to make a difference to the lives of some of the world's poorest and have appealed to the people of North Devon for help. In March the 24 will return to carry on a

A group of Christian volunteers are returning to the Gambia in Africa to continue trying to make a difference to the lives of some of the world's poorest - and have appealed to the people of North Devon for help.In March the 24 will return to carry on a tradition begun seven years ago by Ruth and Martin Kingdon from Barnstaple, as ever loaded down with suitcases containing clothes, shoes, medical supplies, spectacles, needle and cotton plus school equipment.They will visit many places, including hospitals and schools as well as juvenile prisons and remote rural villages eight hours away in the interior.As with previous trips, they will visit the market to buy tools such as axes and machetes for impoverished villagers, as well as items such as rice, sugar, oil and matches.This year the group has issued a plea for help to raise money and send baby milk to the poverty stricken villagers - two years ago a little girl almost died in their arms from starvation after her mother's milk dried up.In terrible irony, back home in North Devon lay suitcases of powdered milk, left behind because the group had no more weight allowance."We were working in a village called Jambanjali doing building and plumbing work at a medical centre there," said Ruth."One mother brought us her two-month-old baby and left her with us to die as she had not fed for days."Baby Hawa literally had a few hours left as she was so weak: too weak to open her eyes, clutch fingers or cry. We thought she would die and so we prayed that God would save her against all odds."They gave the mother money for antibiotics and milk at the local hospital, but she was turned away because supplies had run out. Finally after two days a wet nurse was found and Hawa began to recover strength."Can people in North Devon help?" asked Ruth."We want to send out as much milk as we can via a shipping container, but it costs about £120 per cubic metre; we have plenty of milk, we just need help with shipping costs."They are also appealing for unwanted mobile phones to take with them - but have plenty of everything else and are grateful to those who have already donated so much."One - or two - things we desperately need are drivers," concluded Ruth."We have to take a van and minibus up to Gatwick but have no drivers among us at all, so if anyone would be willing to volunteer that would be brilliant."Ruth Kingdon can be contacted on (01271) 344022 or 07888 663530.