We are Linzi, Perry and Harrison of Poynton and we went on holiday to Mombasa in 2010 and took Harrison’s football shirts to give away as we knew they loved them. Harrison, our son who is now 14, wanted to give the shirts to a school that would not usually get things like the children do near the tourist areas. We asked around and a man called Asava who worked at the hotel volunteered at a school for disabled children near the port in Mombasa. Asava, took us to the school. What we saw there was absolutely heart wrenching; it was one of the most grounding days of our lives and changed us forever.
Port Reitz School takes mentally and physically disabled children from all over Kenya. Most of the children live there and only go back to their villages in the holidays, some live there all the time as they have nowhere else to go.
The Head teacher, Mercy, who never stops laughing, is also disabled and was the second child to be at the school when it was built back in 1965. The amazing co-incidence is that a missionary Margaret Beetham, who with the support of worldwide churches, built the school, now lives in a nursing home in Mobberley, Cheshire!!
We were lucky to visit her last year before her illness got steadily worse. We have met her sister and seen old photos of the school from back then and also from when Margaret returned to the school on the 25th Anniversary.
When we returned home we contacted Wendy Baardman who had set up Friends of the Port Reitz School Foundation in 2009 in order to sponsor a child. We sponsored Clinton age 13. A beautiful boy who not only has Spinabifida but a wicked sense of humour. Wendy always tries to match appropriate children to their sponsors.
At Harrison’s previous school, Greenbank in Cheadle, they had a charities week and raised a record breaking £5000 pounds for Port Reitz and since then two teachers each year have gone to Port Reitz to help the teachers and children. 12 children were also sponsored by families of Greenbankchildren.
The Foundation made Harrison their UK Ambassador which made him so proud. It costs £120 per year to sponsor a child and our ambition as a family is to get all 305 children sponsored. Currently about 80 of the children are sponsored. However, it proved, understandably quite difficult for people to make that commitment, mainly because they worry that circumstances may not allow them to carry on and so they fear letting the children down.
What we decided to do instead was start a sponsorship fund so that people could pay into
a general fund and therefore take away the fear. We calculated that 200 children x £120
per year would mean raising £24,000 per year. As a family we do regular carboot sales and
raise from £60 to £120 each time. These are not massive amounts but it all adds up.
We have spent time in Europe with the Wendy and Sandra of the Foundation this summer collecting clothes, linen, wheelchairs and school desks from schools in Germany along with prosthetics and many, many nappies for the incontinent children then delivering and packing them into a 40’ container in Rotterdam.
It is important to note here that not one penny comes out of the childrens money for any expenses of volunteers or foundation members and no salaries are paid to anyone. Also, any monies
received by the foundation are shown in the accounts and are available to be seen by anyone. It is so very important that people know that every penny goes to the children.
Harrison with Wendy and Sandra from the foundation loading up old wheelchairs to go to Port Reitz We went back to Port Reitz last October to help with and share in the 50th Anniversary of the school. The events lasted over 3 days and included the children going out into the community to help the local people.