Scolastica, a 33-year-old single mother and urban chicken farmer in Tanzania, set up her poultry business in 2005, itself a brave step for a woman to make in such a patriarchal society. Things ticked along relatively well. But when three years ago, a virus swept through her flock and killed 600 of her 900 birds in less than a week - even someone with the drive and determination of Scolastica thought her dream was over. That's when Comic Relief stepped in and her luck began to change.
As a performer, I totally understand how powerful music and drama is to express yourself and get difficult emotions out into the open. Singer and dancer Mary is one such person. She puts heartfelt emotion into every single performance in an attempt to turn her painful past into a positive force. Her powerful lyrics and support from an incredible project have turned this once shy woman into a local celebrity in the rural part of eastern Uganda where she lives with her husband and children. I recently met Mary, 48, and heard her remarkable story...
There's something so genuine and heartwarming in sharing a laugh with a little boy or girl. People of all ages love to share their happiness. Laugh, and the whole world laughs with you. That is the power of Comic Relief and its inspiring Red Nose Day fundraising campaign. People throughout the UK will be making fun of themselves on Friday - me, too - to support extraordinary causes.
In 1985, Comic Relief was born. The beautiful, bouncing child of Richard Curtis and Lenny Henry, it came into the world kicking and screaming... and in 1988, it started wearing a red nose. And between these two events - the launch of the charity and its first Red Nose Day in February 1988 - came the release of the very first Comic Relief single, in 1986.
When Comic Relief invited me to Uganda for Red Nose Day to meet families affected by malaria, I was worried and scared in equal measures. Worried about how I would cope with hearing from parents who have lost children to this deadly disease, and scared that I too could get bitten by a malaria infected mosquito and fall sick.