A woman from Bramhope is setting off to Kenya to help desperately poor children in the slums of Nairobi.
Karen Shackleton, 49, will be taking part in a project to rebuild a school in the Kibera slums – an area of about 1.5 square miles with a population of over one million.
“Most people living in Kibera have little or no access to basic necessities such as electricity, clean water, toilet facility and sewage disposal,” she said. “The combination of poor nutrition and lack of sanitation accounts for many illnesses and deaths, especially in young children.
“The project that I will be taking part in is a tiny school which educates 130 children who would not be accepted at any other facility due to their families’ inability to fund even the most basic requirements for standard school entry – uniform and text books.”
The project, which is run by the charity Training for Life, aims to fund an entire year’s running costs, as well as essential medication for children.
Karen stressed: “The school is in danger of financial and physical collapse in every respect, having had all other sources of funding fade away under the current economic climate. Teachers are currently not being paid and food is intermittent. For most of the children, the school represents their only meal of the day.”
The BT Openreach worker, who sets off on Saturday, became involved in the project after reading an article in an internal newsletter. She will spend just over a week helping to rebuild the school and spending time with the children and teachers.
She has set up an open Facebook group – Rebuilding St Lazarus School in Kenya.
Karen has raised £6,000 – much of it from individuals and groups in her home village.
“I am overcome with the amount of support and endless generosity of family, friends, colleagues and especially the local community of Bramhope,” she said.
Among those supporting her fundraising are the staff and pupils at Bramhope Primary School who invited her to their Harvest Festival, donating all proceeds raised to St Lazarus.
Karen, who will be taking pens, pencils and children’s clothes with her, said: “Every class at Bramhope Primary School is also writing a letter and taking a picture of their class to go with it and I will be taking these with me too.”