The former headmistress of Shalfleet Primary School has walked the Wight in reverse to raise more than £1,000 for an emergency appeal to help children at a school in Kenya.
Uzima in Our Hands is an Island charity which raises around £20,000 a year to keep open the Uzima Orphan and Day Care Centre in western Kenya where the children are sheltered, taught and fed. And, over the last couple of weeks, Viv Collins, of Freshwater, has walked around the Island, accompanied by a variety of friends, in five separate stages.
Viv, who was headmistress for 13 years, explained: “I first got to know about the charity through the True Vine Church in Newport where I met people there who were also involved and I have sponsored a child over the last 10 years. Last year I followed the Walk the Wight route around half the Island from The Needles to Seaview and, to my surprise, I raised £7,000 to help pay towards the school’s teachers to be fully qualified.
“I was going to walk the other half this year but Covid struck. So afterwards, I decided to do the whole route but in reverse. However, I split the walk up as I’m not getting any younger and, on each day, different friends would join me and keep me company.
“I’ve visited the school over the years and gradually got more involved and I have just been made a trustee of the charity. This year I visited again. My original plan was to stay for two-and-a-half weeks but I was there twice as long. I was working with the assistant teachers and set up a programme for children with special needs. But once I returned to England, the Kenyan Government produced a new edict and said all teachers needed proper qualifications.”
Viv said this latest decision has made it more urgent to help the teachers get their qualifications. Because of the pandemic, Kenyan schools have been closed since March and the children are suffering more than ever. The charity has sent money for food to be circulated monthly to the families they live with, but this hasn’t been enough to stave off real hunger and, in many cases, near starvation, as food prices increase.
Viv added: “A huge proportion of children are struggling to keep up, whether it’s because they have special needs or are just slow learners.
“It’s so important we help to give these children a decent education. I keep in touch with the teachers and they are trying to help the children at home, but a huge proportion of them are struggling to cope. Hopefully, this fundraiser will help the teachers to continue educating the children.”