Tales from the field

Posted on
29th Mar 2015
by Martina Gant

I’m in Kisumu, Kenya, for two weeks, with a packed and productive schedule. I’m out here in my new role to focus on KOP’s work with our three project partners; Ogra Foundation, Omega Foundation and HOVIC.

Week one was mainly office-based; visiting the partner offices, catching up with Kenyan colleagues and making plans for the project visits next week. We had some positive meetings about the end of our HealthStart pilot and the planning for the Charity Apprentice trip is coming along nicely…look out for further posts with more detail, coming soon.

This week has been very warm, very humid and very wet, with some spectacular storms. I was cursing the rain earlier in the week until Rose, Child Support Officer at Omega Foundation told me that being caught in the rain is a blessing, especially after a period of drought.

The rains have arrived late which means crops haven’t been planted yet. The delay will result in a late harvest which will be felt acutely by the subsistence-farming communities in this region. Now that the rains have arrived in full force, I’m embracing the blessing!

I’m sharing regular updates on our Twitter and Instagram channels: make sure you follow us for more project updates.

Sean takes on his first marathon, runs it in the Sahara Desert

Posted on
11th Mar 2015
by Ellie Dawes

Anyone who has dabbled in a spot of fundraising knows that the best kind of fundraiser is a crazy fundraiser. These are the guys who take a challenge and take it just a little past the normal levels of sanity to bring in those donations.

On February 24th, Sean decided to run his first ever marathon – a brave move for anyone. Because he knew what a difference KOP make in the lives of children, he decided to run it for us. And, because Sean is our kind of person, he decided to run it through the blistering heat of the Sahara desert.

So how did he get on? We caught up with Sean after the run, who said:

“It was bloody hard! But extremely rewarding.

When it’s 35 degrees, and you’ve been stumbling through the Sahara desert for almost five hours when, from nowhere a refugee camp appears and Sahrawi kids start chasing you around, it’s tempting to shed a tear of joy.

I’m not exactly sure why I thought the ‘Sahara Marathon’ wouldn’t involve blood, blisters and giant sand dunes. But it did. And after a while, when the crowd has thinned and the only way you know where to go is a lonely soldier waving in the distance, the blisters and cramps and sunburn pale in comparison to the mindbending heat and loneliness.

That said, it was a wonderful experience and I’m humbled how well this fundraiser has gone. With a bit more help it could make tons of difference to some whose daily struggle is far greater than the marathon.”

If you’d like to help Sean raise that little bit extra to hit his target, here’s the link you need.

So what’s next for Sean? “It was my first marathon so I need to do a ‘normal’ one now to gauge what time I should properly get…”

Great plan Sean. Maybe you could run it underwater. Or in the Arctic. Or across a lake of lava.

For being a total legend and making the world a far better place. Sean, we applaud you. From KOP and on behalf of all the inspiring kids we support, thank you.

See Sean’s thank you limerick.

You deserve the best support

Posted on
09th Mar 2015
by Thomas Muirhead

Whether you’re one of our Charity Apprentices, or a long time supporter by direct debit; one of our fantastic Ambassadors or a 9 year old climbing Ben Nevis, we feel you deserve the best support you can get. So we’re committed to providing you with the support you deserve by building our team.

Content & Community Manager
Ellie Dawes has joined the KOP team as our new Content and Community Manager. Ellie will be focused on making our Charity Apprentice course the best training experience for the third sector anywhere in the world. She will ensure our Apprentices emerge with all the skills they need to change the world. She’ll also be responsible for how KOP talks – being an expert copy writer and brilliant at bringing a brand to life. Ellie has written a blog on Charity Apprentice.

Supporter Experience Assistant
Anjali (above) has joined us as our new Supporter Experience Assistant. She’ll be focused on supporting the entire KOP community (Apprentices, Ambassadors, Supporters, Alumni). It’s essential you all get everything you need, and know that you have someone you can chat to if you need anything. She’s lovely, so give her a call on 07751768207 if you have any questions.

We're putting a real focus on our work in Africa

Posted on
09th Mar 2015
by Thomas Muirhead

Delivering innovative programmes like HealthStart, and supporting our children’s centres in Kisumu requires a huge amount of input, management and expertise. To do this we work really closely with our excellent partners in Africa. However, we’ve realised that for us to be able to ensure the impact of the work we do, and the money our supporters raise, we need to have someone dedicated to just that.

In a huge step for KOP we’ve recruited someone with great experience of working with partners in Africa, with a strong understanding of our organisational objectives and with a vision for the most vulnerable children in the world that mirrors ours exactly… our very own Martina Gant.

Marti will be between Bristol, London and Kenya for the next few months, and potentially spending much more time in Kenya after that. She’ll be reviewing, assessing and evaluating all our current programmes, as well as identifying new opportunities to transform the lives of vulnerable children. Marti will make everything we do through our partners work better.

It’s another step forward for KOP and one that will directly improve the lives of the most vulnerable children in the world – and it’s a step that’s only been possible because of the incredible support you all give us.

A historic day for international development

Posted on
09th Mar 2015
by Martina Gant

Today a bill passed through the House of Lords, enshrining to law the UK’s commitment to spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on foreign aid.

This is a momentous step for international development in the UK; it means that the political debate can shift from how much to how effective, focussing on delivery and impact, rather than on the insecurities in funding that arise with every election.

The 0.7% target was first pledged by the UN back in 1970 and the UK is the first G7 nation to enshrine the commitment in law, with many institutions, agencies and charities campaigning for years to protect the commitment by law.

Millions of lives positively affected by UK aid and can continue to be. Well done and thanks to all those involved in the campaign!

Follow the news here: #TurnUpSaveLives and read more about the progress of the bill.

International Women's Day: how we keep young women in school

Posted on
06th Mar 2015
by Ellie Dawes

The 8th March 2015 is International Women’s Day! As of this date, already in 2015, we will have provided 66,568 meals to girls supported by our projects. To young women, these meals mean they can get an education and the opportunities they need to look forward to a brighter future.

Emaculate is 15 years old and in class 6 at Kiliti primary in Kenya. She lives with her father, step-mother and six siblings.

Life has not been easy since Emaculate’s mother died. Her father’s job as a casual farm labourer only enables him to provide one meal a day for his family: a very small dinner. As a step-daughter, Emaculate finds herself last in line for food at home.

Emaculate used to get up and go to school on an empty stomach and miss lunch too. In the evening, she would go home to just half a cup of porridge or black tea.

“It was not easy. I felt very hungry over the nights and this affected my sleep. The same happened in school. I could not concentrate and this greatly affected my performance.

I thought of engaging into very dangerous activities which would otherwise affect me for the rest of my life. I even thought of getting married to solve the whole issue.”

But life changed in 2011 when Emaculate enrolled on our program at the OGRA feeding centre. She says:

“When I heard of the program and managed to get enrolled, a lot has changed in my life. I found new hope to guide me through.

Even though breakfast and lunch are hard to come by, I always console myself that I will get something to fill my stomach with in the morning and at lunch time at the Feeding Centre. Apart from the food, I was also given a school uniform and a pair of rubber shoes.

Life has been better and I always encourage myself to work hard and get good marks. My only request is for OGRA Foundation to support us through our secondary education to help better our future. Otherwise, erokamano (thank you).”

As well as food, KOP provide young women like Emaculate with menstrual hygiene and sex education. This ensures that girls are not missing out on up to a week of school every month. Our support helps prevent girls in Emaculate’s village from putting themselves at risk of pregnancy by exchanging sex for sanitary towels.

You can help us support more young women. Do something inspiring today and change the lives of children who don’t have a head start in life. Donate.

Brian Schofield's Everest trek

Posted on
25th Feb 2015
by Anjali Dwesar

We would like to wish our supporter Brian Schofield a HUGE good luck for his trek to Everest Base Camp in March.

So far Brian has raised an amazing £1580 and counting. To support Brian, please donate on his fundraising page.

Brian is no stranger to raising money for charity. He has run half-marathons, competed in bed races and even jumped from an aeroplane, but it doesn’t end there! Brian and his wife, Joanne, love to combine adventure and fundraising. In Bosnia, they travelled in Land Rovers with trailers filled with charitable gifts to distribute to schools and hospitals. He has also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, raising an incredible amount for a local hospice charity.

Brian has always wanted to go to Nepal and with his love of adventure, the idea of climbing to the Everest Base Camp was born. Having visited Kenya with Joanne and seen a video of KOP’s work, he decided to raise money to fund our exciting projects that benefit some of the country’s most vulnerable children. He says:

“Having already visited Kenya with Joanne, wandered some of the poorest villages and seen some of the squalid conditions; once I started watching the video I was immediately captivated by what I was to hear and see, together with the work being carried out by the team and volunteers, admirable.”

Brian’s brother David will join him on the trip and both have been training hard to achieve their goals.

We can’t wait to hear about Brian’s amazing journey! To thank Brian and wish him luck, we have written him a limerick for our new Facebook album of thank you limericks.

If you’re doing some amazing fundraising for KOP (and would like us to write you a limerick) please get in touch and tell us about it! Send your story, fundraising link and photos to info@kopafrica.org.

The miles just kept coming - Making Tracks raises £150,000

Posted on
14th Dec 2014
by Sam Phillips

Child.org trustee Sam Mason talks about her experience of the 2014 ride.

We’d done a little training and bought the kit that until then we’d never heard of – SPDs, sleeves, chamois cream. In all truth I felt fairly under-prepared and pretty apprehensive. Most of us had never cycled in that sort of climate. Personally, I’d naively assumed that commuting by bike in London would be the perfect training ground for cycling in Africa.

The ride itself covered 460km, from Kampala, Uganda through to Kisumu in Kenya – a route that skirted the edge of Lake Victoria and took us both on and off-road.

Tough, but worth it

I hadn’t considered the constant searing heat, how my bottom might feel after 3 days of riding or the possibility that we might have to cover a whole day in persistent headwind. I didn’t think about roads simply being so broken that my bike bounced around, or that when our guides told us “just two more hills” what they really meant was 15 more hills. But I’m glad of every moment, and happy about every well managed lie. It was one of the most exceptional things I’ve ever done. Even when my thighs burned, my back knots screamed, and the kilometres kept coming like a never ending snake – there were always scores of screaming children, men and women cheering “JAMBO! JAMBO! JAMBO! How are you?” to lift us. That we had such amazing support and encouragement through all bar none of the land we travelled through was so humbling.

An incredible experience

A beautiful country, filled with exceptional people – it was such a privilege to be there. As well as the locals around us, within the group of riders I witnessed so many other extraordinary things. Every hour people were supporting one another, a hand on a back up a punishing hill, distracting stories on the longest (140km) day and pelotons in headwinds with front position dominated by the strongest amongst us. These little acts bonded us all minute by minute, in a way I don’t think any of us fully appreciated until the end.

Flying down a spectacular mountain we arrived in Kisumu, 15km of pure descent with breathtaking views of thick green jungle and Lake Victoria. It was a truly awesome site. Breathless and the best kind of overwhelmed, we had arrived and were met in true Kenyan style – music, dancing, cheering and a wonderful presentation!

Visiting the projects

The following day we took everyone to see three of the KOP projects. I’ll never forget this day. One of the main criticisms people have with donating to charitable causes is the lack of transparency. There’s no way of seeing the impact you’re having or knowing what you’re really supporting. On this day, 50 riders got to meet hundreds of children they were directly supporting through their fundraising efforts.

At Rabour school a mass game of football broke out on the pitch (where we took more Western casualties in ten minutes than during the whole ride!). At Kochogo feeding centre, just after lunch, music was blasted and a group of us danced with 140 children between the ages of 1 and 11…(we were shown up horribly, in case you were wondering). And at HOVIC shelter we listened to a brilliantly charming and eloquent teacher reveal the journey he had been on – from the street to the classroom. We all hung on to his every word and left feeling so much. Respect, humility, awe at his courage. It was a hugely emotional day, chased by 5 days of physical and mental exertion, every barrier within us had come down.


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