Christine Seddon-Kaye is a Mancunian living in Somerset. She has been a supporter of Educate the Kids for a long time. This is her story, in which she explains why now, perhaps more than ever, if you can spare even just a fiver, she would like you to help the charity to feed people in Kenya who are, literally, starving just now due to the impact of Covid-19 in their country…
“I wasn’t interested in Africa until about 15 years ago. I’ve lived in Somerset for, oh the past 30 odd years, and Ray Stevens, a friend of ours, told me about Educate the Kids. He sponsored a child and so we did as well, mainly, to be honest, because it seemed a nice thing to do.
“I have always been sceptical of big charities and, like many I guess, I tend to wonder how much actually goes to the people in need It seemed to me that Educate the Kids was just normal people making a difference. It was a breath of fresh air to see that every penny I was spending went to help educate and feed incredibly poor people in Kenya.
“A year later, I met the founders, Maureen and Ian. Again, I thought, they’re just normal people, but doing an amazing job. That made me want to get more involved and I thought, ‘I can do my bit, not a big bit, just little bits.’
“My first trip to the Educate the Kids School in Kenya was in 2007. I had not been to Kenya or Africa before and I suppose I was a bit scared, but everyone we met was so kind and friendly. I noticed that they always wanted to share things. I met a little girl, who was obviously watching me and a bit nervous. She was about six and I had a couple of sweets which I gave to her and the first thing she did was to run off and give one to her little brother.
“I have gone several times a year since that first trip, but this year we’ve had to cancel two holidays there due to the coronavirus, and that’s what I really want to talk to you about…
“At the minute, the village where the School is situated is not receiving any food aid. Because it’s close to the coast, most of the people work within the tourist industry as cooks, gardeners, taxi drivers or serving on the beach.The shops have closed, the bars have closed, the hotels are closed; without tourists no-one has a job. They have all lost their livelihoods. To make matters worse, the people living the village are not allowed to move to the nearest town because of the government rules.
“They don’t have the virus in the villages, but the Kenyan government has extended lockdown till 7th July, meaning nothing will change and there is no hope of businesses re-opening. As a result, they are all suffering from hunger far more than they are from the disease. They are a proud people who want to provide for themselves and it’s hard for them to understand why they are in lockdown.
“Educate the Kids and their sponsors have done an amazing a job in getting money over to Kenya to the School in order to provide food. Everyone who works at Jolaurabi School. has been making up THOUSANDS of food parcels, to distribute not just to our own school kids but to others in the village. They are working with the local chiefs and elders to identify those in need. The main lifeline in the surrounding villages is the School and Educate the Kids. Without your help, they would starve to death. It really is that stark. There is no safety net, no NHS, no welfare.
“Those without money are totally dependent on their neighbours to provide them with some maize or beans. We have an amazing team at Jolaurabi School who would spend their every waking moment packing food parcels if we had the money. The irony of the lockdown for them is that Covid-19 is something that is very distant. Their real issue is ‘how do I stay alive by being able to eat?’
“People are getting really desperate. When food parcels are handed out, people who haven’t eaten for days approach them, desperate for any bit of food. In the past, an
£8-£10 food parcel would last a family for a couple of weeks, but now the price of food has risen so we are asking anyone who wants to help to giv, whatever they can afford, whether it’s £1, £5, £15 or whatever, every penny will go to help these people in need.”
Can you help? Please, if you can, do so at this page: https://www.educatethekids.com/product/make-a-donation/
EVERY PENNY goes to provide food for the people in the villages around our school.
Interview by Alastair Blair