EXETER builder Paul Ayres swapped high-tech for mud blocks in Africa when he spent part of his summer helping to build a new home for a widow with four children in Rwanda.
Paul, who works as a managing estimator for Midas Retail in Exeter, travelled to the village of Munazi in rural Rwanda with a group from his local church in Devon to support the work of Anglican Church organisation The Rural Development Interdiocesan Service (RDIS).
The team helped to construct a new house for a widow with four children, who were living in a basic one-room accommodation in very poor conditions.
Paul, 61, worked with a 12-strong group to build up mud block walls and put on a roof to provide the family with a comfortable new home.
The Midas Group, one of the largest independent construction companies in the South West, supported Paul by providing him with extra time off work to make the trip.
Paul, a father of three who lives in Bovey Tracey, has worked for Midas from its Exeter headquarters for nearly 25 years.
He said: "A young couple from the Baptist Church I attend had been working in Rwanda for two years, and our church arranged to send a group out in August to work on this project to support the work they were doing.
"I have previously worked for Tear Fund in the Sudan and Bangladesh and I was keen to go, and am grateful to Midas for supporting me on this venture.
"It was a very rewarding experience. Physically it was hard work; we were building the house under the guidance of the African builders there. I don't do any hands on building work in my job with Midas, but I do DIY and like to do practical things, so I enjoyed it."
He added: "The widow who we were building the house for was with us most days helping out, and it was wonderful to see the impact what we were doing would have on her life.
"My church is keen to organise another visit to the village in the next year or two and I would be interested to go back again myself. I will be retiring in the not too distant future, and might well look at going back to work on a similar project in the future."