Language lecturer's year to remember

Posted on 8th February 2012

As a nation, 2012 has been dubbed as a year to remember. For an academic at the University of Chester, it has been a memorable year for two very different reasons.

Not only has Dr Mark Gant, a senior lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages, undertaken a humanitarian mission, including a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he has also had a new book published.

Through a social worker friend – who had visited the DRC to help monitor an election and returned determined to help the many children sleeping rough in Lubumbashi, the country’s second city – Mark became the co-founder of the Congo Children’s Trust.

From there, he agreed to become a trustee of the organisation and, after meeting with staff from the Anglican Diocese of Katanga, began working to raise funds for their scheme ‘Project Kilimbo’, which provides support and housing for the‘street children’.

Mark explained: “I became a charity trustee and am currently Treasurer, a role which ranges from paying money into the bank and preparing annual accounts, to packing Christmas cards and giving talks at school assemblies. Charity trustees are responsible for ensuring that money raised is well spent so that means a visit to the project from time to time.”

His most recent visit came earlier this summer and Mark was able to see how his hard work had been applied and was pleased to see some positive results.

“We’re now working to match funding to build a school and the next residential house, so the next couple of years will be exciting. I’d love to go again in a couple of years, when they are underway so I’d better start saving for the flight!”

If balancing this work with his lecturing duties at the University wasn’t enough to keep Mark busy, he also found the time to write a book on 19th-century Spanish writer and publisher, Carlos Frontaura. His work reflected the social and political climate of the time but can also shed light on the way we approach things today.

Mark said: “I’ve always enjoyed reading 19th-century fiction, as it is so rich in description and people at the time shared some of our current obsessions - such as the instability of banks, the moral fragility of politicians and how to give their children a more secure future.

“It’s a window on a world which is at once like ours and very different from it in terms of fashions, technology and social security.”

Frontaura’s busy life of writing and publishing has made him of a figure of interest in recent years. Mark’s book attempts to shed more light on who he was and what we can learn from his work in today’s society.

The Spanish Writer and Publisher Carlos Frontaura was recently published and is now available from Amazon, or directly from the publishers.

For more information on his work with the Congo Children’s Trust, or to make a donation, please visit http://www.kimbiliocongo.org/

Dr Mark Gant with his book, and some of his pictures from his time in the Democratic Republic of Congo.