SOMETIMES I think we lose sight of how fortunate we are to live in Inverclyde.

We turn on a tap for clean water without thinking. We don’t hesitate to switch on our kitchen appliances or televisions knowing they are connected to the power supply.

We use our mobile phones to browse the internet, send a message anywhere in the world or even make a call without hesitation.

We send our children to first class schools where they are taught by some of the best teachers in the country and all are nurtured and encouraged to be the best they can be.

Of course, there are the less fortunate amongst us – people struggling financially, with poor health or with personal problems.

But they have a support network to call on of both publicly funded services and a varied and dedicated network of charities and volunteer groups.

As Provost I have the pleasure of meeting a great many people in Inverclyde who work tirelessly for the less well-off or for the less-fortunate.

I attend charity events to raise much needed funds to help this tremendous work continue.

But sometimes it is good to look further afield and consider the people who live without many of the basics in life we take for granted.

Few can fail to be moved by the plight of the tens of thousands of people willing to risk everything to escape conflicts in their countries.

It seems that every day we see fresh news reports of desperate migrants trying to board trains and trucks in Calais in France, or people packed into leaking boats that inevitably sink trying to cross the Mediterranean, or hundreds more confronted by riot police armed with shields and batons at border crossings.

There is not much we as individuals can do about the current refugee crisis. That is something for governments to agree.

But what we can do is help people very much like ourselves living their lives in the best way they can in the circumstances they have been dealt. Recently, I was delighted to be able to make a donation from the Provost’s Fund to help families in Rwanda – a country ravaged by genocide two decades ago but a country that has picked itself up and is heading in the right direction.

But despite being one of fastest-growing economies in Africa a staggering 45 per cent of the population are living in poverty.

The charity Aid for Education was set up in Scotland five years ago to help some of Rwanda’s poorest children and their families struggling to get access to education, basic medical care or even shelter.

I was absolutely delighted to hear back from the charity on how Inverclyde’s donation had been used to buy mosquito nets to provide much needed protection from malaria, the leading cause of infant deaths in the country. Not only a much-appreciated note of thanks, but also photographs of some of the people we have helped.

The smile on their faces, above, says it all.