College students who volunteer to help some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable children have thanked residents from one our Dorset care homes for supporting their humanitarian mission.
Members of the Brock2Kenya group visited Avon Reach in Mudeford to give a first-hand account of their latest projects with orphaned street children 4,000 miles away in the city of Nakuru, Kenya.
Staff and residents at Avon Reach, plus colleagues and suppliers of Colten Care, are among the supporters of an annual trip for volunteers, providing donations of cash as well as clothes, shoes, educational materials and other much needed items for distribution to hundreds of Nakuru’s children.
In Kenya last October, 26 Brockenhurst College students spent 12 days on three separate projects, at a school, a nursery and a welfare centre.
Among their activities was helping to install flushable toilets and clean-water sinks to try and cut the risk of children contracting waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
They also took part in a daily feeding programme to help tackle severe malnutrition among the youngsters, gave lessons in literacy and numeracy, played games and ran arts, crafts, singing and dance sessions.
After being in the audience at Avon Reach for the update on Brock2Kenya’s work, resident Noeleen Braisby said: “I found it riveting, really fascinating to hear about all this. It made me realise the huge gulf between our lives here and the extraordinarily poor lives that some of these children in Kenya lead. Long may the mission continue.”
Those presenting to the Avon Reach residents were Adrian Butterworth, Careers Progression Adviser at Brockenhurst College and Trip Lead, and two students who were with him on the last visit as part of their educational enrichment options, Lexie Henderson and Bethany Cohu.
Lexie, who is studying law, philosophy, criminology and Spanish, told the audience: “What you helped us with, in donations, we were able to give directly to the projects. We handed out suitcases of shoes and socks to kids who really needed them along with medical supplies, sanitary towels, crayons and art materials. We did a lot during those 12 days. I learned a lot of skills. It many ways it is heart-breaking. They were so sad to see us go home. It was emotional when we left, but I really want to go again.”
Bethany, who is studying health and social care, said: “The students pay for the trip themselves, raising the money to go from things like cake sales and sponsored activities, even a skydive. When you get there, you see people with so little, even having a challenge to find clean drinking water. Some of the younger ones you get to know just want a hug and to sit on your lap. Many have no safe place. You don’t realise how much you have. It’s an experience you will take with you for the rest of your life.”
Adrian said a project in plan for October 2024 will be to build and install a further rain harvesting kit, involving a roof-mounted tank to provide water for toilets.
When that visit happens, it will mean that more than 100 Brockenhurst College students will have been to Kenya to help since Brock2Kenya began in 2019.
Adrian said: “We couldn’t do the mission without the help of the Avon Reach residents and staff and our other supporters. Everyone’s help makes a massive difference. If we get can help one child in dire straits to get out of their circumstances, then it’s worth doing.”
Avon Reach’s connection with Brock2Kenya came about through Home Manager Ruth Wildman who is herself a volunteer on the annual trip.
Ruth said: “The highlight of the last trip for me was when the tap on the new plumbing system was turned on and we saw clean water coming through. That was amazing. But when you go into the schools, you can see that outside in the street there are many children who can’t get in. We give a few hundred children a chance but many more need help.”
After showing the Avon Reach residents a short film about their 2023 trip, Adrian handed round souvenirs including a Kenyan flag, a bush hat and a wood engraving of the Swahili saying ‘hakuna matata’, the name of a song in the film The Lion King that roughly translates as ‘no worries’.
Although Kenya has a relatively large economy compared to some African countries, more than 16% of its population lives below the international poverty line, currently measured at an income of $2.15 per day.