Fiveways resident sets up African Charity

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In January 2001, I visited Gambia, West Africa, for the first time to train with musicians playing djembe drum in an area called Kotu. That was the beginning of my connection with that neighbourhood, a particularly poor place as it happens, which has endured to this very day.

Over the following year, I spent 8 months there and got to know several small children from that neighbourhood very well. When they took me to visit their homes, mostly just one ramshackle room no matter how large the family, I was shocked into tears. I saw the feet of some of my small friends which had been gnawed by rats in the night and I experienced for myself how many young children died as a result of those poor conditions. From that time on, I took it upon myself to help improve their homes and their lives using whatever spare cash I could muster at the time.

Of course, progress was slow using only my limited funds and so the idea grew into "Kotu Kids", an unofficial charity, launched in 2009. It is thus named because my familiarity with the struggles and hardships of various families arose from my knowing their children first. Until now, it has been advertised through a yearly brochure circulated amongst friends and family. Any monies subsequently raised are used in a variety of ways:-

  • Home improvements such as new roofs, concreting mud floors, plastering mud block walls, installing new doors and mosquito proof windows, putting in new lino and curtains, buying sponge mattresses, beds, chairs, tables.
  • Sacks of rice. An essential commodity.
  • Assistance with rent or deposits if the family moves to better accommodation.
  • Help for local nursery school. Providing a concrete bench for the children to sit outside and eat their lunches.

I aim to make "Kotu Kids" fully transparent and accountable. Donors are e mailed with information about the families helped, photos of their accommodation before and after work has been carried out, an account of monies received and details of where and how it was spent. There are no administration costs or overheads. I oversee and arrange all work when I am there and plan to visit the neighbourhood again at the end of this year.

If you would like to know more you can contact me on junbuns@hotmail.com . We could even meet up as I am a resident of Fiveways myself. And of course, should you ever want to visit there, I can help make arrangements and even show you around!

Jeanette Hodgson.

Posted: 27th of June 2011