Africa 1

Taking Football to Africa and Beyond


The tour to Kenya to deliver 3000+ items donated through the RAF Shawbury based Taking Football to Africa Appeal took place between 16th and 25th February 2013.

The charity was set up by Squadron Leader Neil Hope MBE in 2006 with the intention to collect unwanted or donated football shirts and send them to Africa.  To date the appeal has sent close on 65000 items including nearly 23000 football shirts to 42 countries worldwide.  One of the leading recipients of these kits is Kenya as the charity is able to utilize British Army training in the country as a conduit for occasional deliveries.  Neil has set up a network which includes Sergeant Marc Williams and Mr Dave Gaylor at RAF Brize Norton, Flight Sergeant Fiona Bolton at Air Exports, Nairobi, Warrant Officer Phil Mikolajewski,Neil Stewart and Major Bill Anning at BATUK and the boys in Receipt and Dispatch at RAF Shawbury, amongst many others.  This tour would not have been possible without these people.                                    

The touring party met at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport after the 2 groups of four departed Birmingham and Newcastle airports.  Two serving RAF members; the appeal co-ordinator, Squadron Leader Neil Hope MBE, the Community Relations Officer at RAF Shawbury and Flight Lieutenant Tony Kinchley, an Air Traffic Controller at the Scottish Air Traffic Control Centre, in Prestwick, Scotland. They were joined by Christopher Hope (Neil’s son – Honda Sales Executive), Dr Dominic O’Dowd (Orthopaedic Registrar – Barnsley Hospital and England football Under 16 Team Doctor), Simon Underhill (ex RAF now Senior Air Traffic Controller at Hawarden), Ged Carter (Legal Advisor), Tony Carter (Surveyor) and Ernie Hunter (Garage owner).

The journey went without any problems with KLM and Air Kenya transporting the team and bags to Joma Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi, Kenya.  At the airport the team were met by Simon Mwangi and the vehicle for use during the visit. The team then travelled across Nairobi to their home for the week, Braeburn Garden School, through the assistance of John Herbert, the headmaster, who actually hails from Shrewsbury. Once the team had settled into their rooms, John offered a swift 9 holes of golf at the Royal Windsor Golf Club, which was gladly accepted.

On the first full day in Kenya the team opened the visit by playing 18 holes of Golf on the PGA Championship Golf course at Muthiaga. The course is used for the Kenya Open and has been used on the European Tour! An excellent round was had by all before a trip back to Braeburn for preparation for the afternoon’s deliveries. After collecting the second vehicle from BATUK (British Army Training Unit Kenya) through the excellent assistance of the Military Transport Section through Phil and James,  the team travelled to the north-west of Nairobi for 2 deliveries in Kibagare slum. 

Right behind Loresho, a leafy green, well developed residential suburb for middle to upper class Kenyans and expatriates sits the Kibagare Slums. This slum is home to over 150,000 residents, the majority of them living on less than $1 a day. Houses in Kibagare typically consist of one room, shared sometimes with up to 10 family members, and they are commonly built of tin sheets, which do not protect individuals from the changing climate. Sadly, every three out of five people whom reside in the Kibagare Slums are HIV positive, and they do not have the sufficient resources to continue with a healthy life for themselves or their families. The first delivery was to the Kibagare Academy, which was founded in 2008 by Pastor Amos Otieno Okolo in order to protect children of the Kibagare Slums from the harsh, daily realities they are faced with, and give them the hope and foundation for brighter futures. Pastor Amos started his school in a small shack off the main area of Kibagare.  In later 2012 the school moved a couple of hundred yards to a shack double the size of the original.

Kibagare Academy has  50 bright students, 12 of them being complete orphans and over 20 belonging to single parent families. Each student's family is asked to pay 300 Kenyan Shillings a month, approximately $4 US, to cover school fees. On many occasions, and currently with the 12 orphaned students, there is little possibility of covering the school fees, yet the children are never turned away. While 300 Kenyan Shillings may be a minute amount of money to many of us, it can often be a copious and strenuous amount for a family to come up with in the slums. At the school the team handed out pencils, toys and football kit items donated by RAF Fylindales, Holmes Chapel and AFC Newbury. They also handed out items donated by Mary Douglas Jones and Shawbury St Mary’s Primary School. After The Pastor Amos School the team drove another 400 yards into Kibagare Slum to the Good News Centre. 

The Kibagare Good News Centre was started as a small shack in 1980 by the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi.  The school is now run by Sister Leah and includes St Martins Secondary School and is home to 625 children.  At the school the team met Sister Pauline who showed them around before an impromptu football match against the children, dressed in the Wallsend Boys Club shirts donated in 2012.  The football match was a resounding victory for the children and was followed by the team donating kits donated by Belvedere School, Pegasus Juniors and Kewford JFC.

Upon Returning to Breaburn School the team handed over 2 sets of strips to headmaster, John Herbert, for use by the schools football team.  These shirts were donated by Worcestershire FA and Caersws JFC.

The second full day saw the team travel north from Nairobi to Gilgil, 2 hours north on the edge of the Great Rift Valley.  The journey included a stop off at one of the many viewing points on the road looking over the Rift Valley at a height of 7062ft above sea level. 

At Gilgil the first delivery was at the Woodard Langa Langa Secondary School.  The school was built through a charity ran by Harry Vialou Clark, an ex Army Officer who has built over 15 schools in Kenya whilst the Woodard Foundation has built over 50 schools worldwide. Harry was awarded the MBE in the New Years Honours list at New Year 2011 for his service to schooling and charity in Kenya. The team was shown around the school, which has an excellent chemistry lab and library and is purpose built to teach children. The school currently has 120 children on its books, some of who walk for up to an hour and a half to and from school. At the end of the visit the team presented kits donated by Throstles JFC, Grindleford JFC, The FA, Shrewsbury Town FC, Kewford Juniors JFC, Mexborough JFC and Sheffield & Hallamshire FA. After leaving Harry, the team travelled into the main part of Gilgil to visit one of its regular deliveries at the Saidia Children’s Home and Orphanage.

At Saidia they were met by Jane Kinuthia who runs the home and has done a fantastic job over many years looking after abandoned and abused children, many of whom are HIV positive. The center opened in 2001 with 5 children and now has over 50 and also runs a Granny Club to look after children and a food programme. The team was shown around the school including meeting many of the nursery children and visiting 3 children in the baby room, including a little girl named Jill, who suffers from Spina Bifida.  After a cuppa the team handed over items donated by Charlotte Hope, QPR, Sheffield & Hallamshire FA, Killamarsh Ladies, GB Archery through Alison Williamson MBE, Carterton Juniors FC, The FA and St Mary’s Primary School, Shawbury.

The last visit of the day was to another regular at Sanchat Children’s home.  The school is run by Mary Coulson ( Mary and husband Terry started the center in 2008) and provides homes and schooling for many children from the local area.  The school has many children who have been saved from a life of prostitution including a 7 year old girl who was sold by her mother. The team watched the children sing and dance and played a football match against the children. They also watched the Sanchat Choir.  The team also donated kits donated by Wallsend Boys Club, Ann Lewis, Sheffield & Hallamshire FA, Holmes Chapel FC, Mary Douglas and Shrewsbury Federation of Master Builders. A long journey home again meant a drive along the edge of the Great Rift Valley.

Day three in Kenya saw most of the team take a rest day with a visit to the Nairobi National Park followed up by a swim at the Royal Windsor Golf and Country Club Hotel.

Neil Hope and Tony Kinchley made a delivery of 3 boxes to the British Council in Nairobi on behalf of Queens Park Rangers FC.  The kits were all donated by the Premiership club for distribution across the capital city.

Neil also handed over kits during the day to Alice Sanday for onward transmission to the Ole Keene Primary School in the Masai Mara.  Those kits were donated by Nether Green FC, Burnley Schools and Gloucestershire Schools.

Neil met with Geoffrey Omulkakula of the Ironstrikers FC to handover kits donated by QPR and with Fred Akida, a Kenyan Premier Division Referee, to hand over Refs kit donated by the FA, Sheffield & Hallamshire FA and Lancashire FA for Referees across the region.  He also collected football kits donated by QPR for a team of refugees from Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda called Kitengeli Refugees FC

Day five started with the resident Doctor, Dom O’Dowd splitting away from the group to travel into Mathare slum to spend the morning at the German Clinic. 

Dom writes: Situated in a slum on the edge of the Kenyan capital, Baraka Clinic serves a population of people who cannot afford state healthcare membership.  Baraka is basically a minor injuries/medical outpatient unit along with a very basic resus room, lumps and bumps “operating theatre” and a pharmacy.  Alongside the clinic is a HIV and TB program run out of shipping containers, which serve as clinic rooms.  The clinic currently has over 5500 HIV positive patients from the 3 km square area it serves, however the majority of the population remain untested despite this being a free service.  HIV and TB treatment is paid for by a charity program from the USA.  The most interesting case of the day was a young baby with a severe pneumonia who had initial oxygen saturations of 65% (normal is 96% and over).  The baby was stabilized with a nebuliser, antibiotics, fluids and oxygen that are filtered from room air by an ancient purifier machine.  The baby had to go to the main hospital in Nairobi by taxi (no medical support), which is 60 minutes away.  The malnutrition combined with severe pneumonia sadly meant the child was unlikely to survive.

After clinic we undertook some home visits in the slum where the extent of poverty really became apparent.  Families of five live in corrugated metal shacks with a single bed, sofa/chair and little else.  Raw sewage runs past the entrance to the shacks and this combined with the humidity and heat make the living conditions almost unbearable.  The whole family will sleep in the house/shack and survive on less than 50p per day. However people take great pride in their shacks.  Despite having nothing of value and suffering life changing chronic disease these people are some of the most inspirational I have ever come across.  Their humbleness and overwhelming appreciation for help underpinned the constant effort they make to provide a better life for their children at all personal costs.  They were truly awe-inspiring. The final place we visited was the food program center, which catered for the malnourished children within the community.  Patiently waiting, people collected rice and beans in whatever container they could. Upstairs mothers as young as 13 were being taught how to cook in order to provide sound nutrition for their children at minimal cost.

Driving back in the air-conditioned jeep with cold water and biscuits that cost more than most peoples weekly wage it was difficult to detach.  A firm grounding to reality achieved, I made a personal commitment to be more humble in the face of adversity.

Mr Dominic O’Dowd, Orthopaedic Registrar, Barnsley Hospital, England and FA Men’s England U16 Doctor

The rest of the team took on the challenge of The Royal Windsor Golf Club during the morning before joining Dom in Mathare slum, where they were shown around by Megan Wright of the Tushindi Children’s Trust.  Megan is the wife of a teacher at Braeburn School and has assisted the Taking Football to Africa and Beyond Charity Appeal for many years.  Without Megan, the appeal would not be the success it has undoubtedly become. In Mathare the team visited the German (Baraka) Clinic viewing the area that Dom had spent his morning in before visiting 3 schools to make deliveries.

The first school was in the center of Mathare just off one of the main roads.  It is a school called the Excellence centre school. It educates 607 children in 21 small shacks. The school is incredibly basic and the heat in the classrooms is unbearable. The open sewer runs next to the classrooms.  At the school the team presented kits donated by The FA.

The second school was the Heidi-Marie School (named after a German Minister who approved the money to build it) much larger and involved driving off the slum road through some large gates.  Inside a compound sat large buildings holding many classrooms.  The school was definitely a step up from the Excellence School but this one housed 1500 children. At the school the team presented kits donated by Noah’s Ark FC, Brian Jones, Chester Green Cobras and Doncaster Sunday League. The last school in Mathare proved to be the most heartbreaking.  A fantastic headteacher has built a small school in a small number of outbuildings and shacks. 

The school is called the Stella Marris Community Education Centre. The facilities are so meager that 20 children are schooled in very small container like classrooms split by a tiny corridor with open sewerage running alongside.  In the extreme heat of Nairobi the place smelt horrendous, yet in each classroom happy smiling children beamed back at us.  Over 260 children are currently educated at this tiny school. On return to Braeburn School the team met one of the teachers, Collins Marigiri.  Collins assists across Kenya in building pitches for football teams.  The team gladly passed on items donated by Handsworth JFC, Noah’s Ark FC, Frechville JFC, Worcestershire FA, The RAFFA, Herefordshire FA and Pegasus Juniors FC, Bessacar FC, the Football Alliance and Doncaster Sunday League. The kits will be split between 3 recipients: Mathare Youth and Regen Youth Club in Nairobi and Bobombolulu School in Mombasa.

The last full day of deliveries saw the team enter the largest slum town in Africa for the first time.  Kibera Slum houses just over 1 million people in an area just under 3 square kilometers. The area has no sewerage system and very little running water or electricity.

The team was met by Vincent of the Kibera Project, which looks after children through football and education and runs a small school for primary children in the Excellence center, a small building that was originally built through donations by the Brighton Rotary Club. Vincent explained how the project runs and gave the group a tour of the top end of the Kibera slum.  The smell and refuse was startling yet people live happily in the area. The team handed over kits donated by JSU Northwood, RAF Scampton, Grindleford JFC and Throstles FC.

After visiting the Kibera Project the group travelled with Vincent to meet Josephine Mumo at Stara School.  The charity has visited and donated to this school many times in the past and in the last 2 years following the horrendous fire that claimed most of the school buildings in 2010. At the school the children sang and danced for the group and even got the members of the party up dancing with them.  The group then chatted with the children before handing over items donated by Shrewsbury Town FC, Wallsend Boys Club, the FA, Stockton FC and Shropshire Federation of Master Builders.  

The Kibera visit finished by the group meeting John Oyoo and some of the players of Kibera Celtic.  The charity first met John and the team a few years back when they played and heavily defeated the RAF boys.  The team is now in division 2 of the Kenyan League and hopes to make the Premier Division in the near future. 

They are made up of players from Kibera Slum. The Charity handed the team kits donated by Grindleford FC, Gloucestershire Schools, Leamington Hibernian, Kewford JFC, Nunnery Wood JFC and QPR. The team then travelled to Dagoretti Corner to visit the Vision Africa team with Kirsty McLullich.  The Vision Africa Charity aims to assist in giving children from deprived areas a future through education and classes in fashion design and sewing and mechanics at the Seed of Hope Center. Kirsty and her team do a fantastic job.  At the center the team were shown around by Fred and Miriam and saw first hand the work the charity completes. The team handed over kits donated by Dinnington Town FC, Sports ID, Grindleford JFC, The FA and Nether Green FC. Parts of these kits were also given to the True Gunners FC a team who work with Kirsty and her team.

With these final deliveries the team have completed the handover of 3085 items in 21 places across Kenya positively Taking Football to Africa and Beyond.

The Friday evening in Kenya was spent at the Safari Park Hotel enjoying the full Kenyan African spread and show.  Saturday saw the final challenge Golf at the Royal Windsor Golf and Country Club followed by the long journey home on Sunday 25 February via Amsterdam. 

The tour, as always, has been a huge success and was enjoyed by all taking football aid to places that needed to benefit from the excellent donations from clubs and people across the UK. 

Visiting Team:

Squadron Leader Neil Hope MBE – RAF Shawbury –

Flight Lieutenant Tony Kinchley – SCATCC Mil, RAF Prestwick

Squadron Leader (Retd) Simon Underhill – SATCO Hawarden Airfield

Christopher Hope – Honda Car Sales Executive

Tony Carter – Surveyor

Ged Carter – Legal Advisor