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Leadership Foursome 'just decided' to help on education in Togo

Bob Barclay at a school in Avenou, Togo

The Donors: Don Barclay, Bob Barclay, Anne Langlois Carette and Simon Carette

The Gift: Creating Support Education Togo (SET)

The Reason: To finance educational programs in Togo

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When Don Barclay's brother, Bob, invited him on a trip to Togo in West Africa last year to help distribute bedding, clothing and mosquito nets to children, he jumped at the opportunity. Don Barclay had recently retired as a business professor at Western University and he was eager to get involved in charity work at home and abroad.

Once in Togo, he quickly saw the overwhelming need in many areas, particularly education. So many villages he visited lacked proper schools, books, classrooms and other supplies. One night over a few beers, the two brothers started talking about the country's problems with two other people on the trip, Anne Langlois and Simon Carette, both physicians and professors at University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine.

"We just decided to do something about it," Don recalled from his home in London, Ont.

After returning to Canada, the foursome set up a charity called Support Education Togo, or SET, and raised $100,000 to support construction of schools, libraries and water sanitation facilities in schools. Bob, a retired senior vice-president at Bank of Nova Scotia, is president of SET while Don and the others serve mainly as directors.

They work with local officials and have teamed with other not-for-profit organizations such as Ryan's Well, which works on water projects across Africa, and Action Enfance et Développment, a Togo-based, not-for-profit organization.

So far, SET has built schools in two communities and is about to start work on another. It also plans to finance scholarships, water projects and school supplies.

"I have a soft spot in my heart for kids and education," said Don, who is also involved in charitable causes around London. "We had no choice but to act."

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