A group of eight friends, all supporters of Northwich-based Under the Mango Tree, has just returned from a visit to Kenya on behalf of the charity.
Under the Mango Tree is a registered charity that supports Timboni Nursery and Primary School which serves a rural community around 30km inland from Mombasa.
The charity was originally set up by Angela and Gordon Atkinson in 2012 and works to support this school and community.
A core part of the charity’s operating model is that 100% of all donations made go to the school – there are no salaries or expenses paid.
One of the highlights of the group’s trip was the official opening of a new classroom that has been funded by Under the Mango Tree supporters.
The community in Kenya came together to perform dance displays and music. There was singing and acting from the pupils and speeches from school staff, village leaders and the local education department.
Once the ribbon was cut and the door unlocked, 30 pupils swarmed into their new classroom with great delight from taking a place at their new desks.
The UK visitors were amazed to see children so genuinely and spontaneously happy to enter a school classroom!
They commented on just how important and valued access to education is for this community.
Karen and Noel Owens from Hartford said: “A few Kenyan shillings go a long way in the arid countryside beyond Mombasa.
“As soon as we arrived at Timboni School we understood why our friends Gordon and Angela felt so committed and passionate about helping these children, from Nursery class to Primary Year 8, to gain an education.
“Without the essential funding from Under the Mango Tree these children would never be able to reach their full potential and enter the workplace.
“The children were so happy to meet us and their smiles lit up our hearts. We are proud to support UTMT and will continue to do so.”
The overall mission of the charity is to help the community school become self-sufficient but before that can happen much more work must be done.
Lorraine and Shaun Dunne from Davenham commented: “It is incredible to think that from some initial resistance to formal education in 2000, and despite the lack of any consistent funding from the Kenyan authorities, the school has flourished growing from a few toddlers gathered under an old mango tree to a multi-room school that serves over 300 meals twice a day to an impoverished school community.”
Work yet to be completed includes providing the school with a playground and suitable equipment.
The local education department has now recognised the school’s educational achievements and Under The Mango Tree team is hopeful there will now be improved teacher funding.
Readers can support the charity’s work by visiting: www.underthemangotree.org.uk