Brazil : part 3 : becoming an honorary Kenyan

Glad's house - VickyI first met Vicky Ferguson of Glad’s House, Kenya, when we had the training weekend away for Street Child World Cup. First impressions – huge smile, huge personality and huge warmth. I was spot on!

Vicky puts her whole heart and being into running Glad’s House in Mombasa, Kenya. The house had a football team at Rio in the Street Child World Cup. Such nice guys, so intent on improving their prospects and opportunities. They were an inspiration.

Glad's house - JanGlad's house - CliffGlad's house - JohnAnyway, Jan and Clifford Ferguson (Vicky’s parents) were there, as they are trustees, as is the lovely John McGlasson who was also there coaching the boys on.

Jan and I shared so many tears and so much laughter, but she seems to think that she can call me ‘the old girl’ as I am one month older . . . sharp intake of breath!

Glad's house - BokeyAlso with the team was Bokey, seen wearing a whistle around his neck in the photograph. Bokey is an ex boxer who now spends his time with Glad’s House. He is as inspirational as the boys – friend, mentor, guide and protector all wrapped up in one.

As we’ve said before, SCWC works with local charities and agencies to find solutions to improve the lives of all homeless children in that country. Glad’s House is the local charity it works with in Kenya.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time with them in Rio – I know it sounds as if I’m gushing, but they are all absolutely fabulous. They have the special gift to make you feel good. Bokey wanted to know whether it was raining on the day I was born, on being told it was, the next day I was given the honorary Kenyan name of Okoth, born in the rain. Imagine that, me given a swahili name!

Sadly, Mombasa has thousands of young people living on the streets, who are struggling for survival. Glad’s House tries to help them reach their full potential. The following bullet points are from their web page.

  • We try to reunite children with their families using our team of social workers. Alternatively, we place the children with foster families.

  • We place the children in full-time education. We also support higher education for them.

  • We use our sports programmes to engage with the children & youths and provide practical and emotional support.

  • Our enterprise schemes provide training and apprenticeships for young adults.

These children have suffered violence, abuse and may other unimaginable things. But despite all of that, they are willing to trust again and go forward with a new purpose. They’re inspirational. And no child should live on the streets, every single one deserves to be given a good chance in life.

I have a just giving page for the Street Child World Cup and as their work goes on all year round, please feel free to make donations as often as you would like!

Brazil : part 1 : as a volunteer

scwc at ChristoI’ve just returned from two weeks in Brazil, in Lonier near Rio de Janeiro.

I was just one of the many volunteers, from lots of different countries, who were at the Street Child World Cup. It was an incredible experience and was a fortnight filled with the highs and lows of emotions and tears of total despair & sadness but also tears of joy.

I learned of Street Child World Cup (SCWC) through one of the co-founders, John Wroe. John and Tim are Swansea Jacks (meaning they support some football team called Swansea City). John’s enthusiasm and total commitment to the SCWC was impossible to resist and when I saw a tweet asking for volunteers for the Comms Team, I leapt at the chance. I didn’t tell John though and, at the volunteers training weekend earlier in the year, when he saw me, his first words were “What are you doing here?” Chuckle, I was warmly welcomed after that. The Wroe family is just wonderful, John and Jo and their two daughters, Alice and Ruby. Yes, I am using superlatives but they deserve every single one . . . and more.

One thing I did find out was that it’s hard work being a volunteer! I was part of the Comms Team and we spent the first few days in the media room, ensuring all was ready for the football tournament. From before breakfast until you went to bed – those people were so dedicated and committed to what they were doing, you happily joined in. On one day, 06.30 was the first meeting and, at the end of another, 22.30 was the last!

Hard work it most definitely was, but with so many pluses. The joy of meeting new people, learning new things, sharing experience and expertise and being part of a team. I cannot properly put into words how exhilarating it was to be a member of a team that was doing something totally for others, to give without wanting anything back, to get so much from it. It was an absolute privilege to work as part of the ‘J’ Team, Jo Clark, Jo-Jo Ellison and Joe Hewitt. Not forgetting, wonderful Ben, amazing Matt, lovely Jo, gorgeous Malachy, Wilf and Alan, beautiful Ben, Becky, Kate and Vicky, Tanzi and Hena, Jessie and Bex, Nick and Paul, Sam and David, someone called Lynn (without an ‘e’) and, and, and . . . . . .

As for the sleeping arrangements; our little room slept five with just enough space between the beds to put your suitcase side on! We five,  Sue, Bev, Ingrid, Lynn without an ‘e’ and me, got on really well, especially as there was only one key for the room. You had to remember to take it to main reception if you were the last one to leave the room – thank goodness we didn’t have too many moments of forgetfulness.

The children, who were in the teams, were amazing. Some of the stories of what they’d been through would break your heart, but that’s for another post.

Brazil volunteers arriving backThis is a photo of some of us arriving back at Heathrow after our 12 hour flight – all looking extremely glamorous, of course. Great timing!  I hope we stay in touch, wonderful friendships were forged.

Would I do it again?  Absolutely!

P.S. Just have to mention the outrageously lovely reception peeps – WonderWoman, Angel and her hubby, Superman.

P.P.S. Not too late to donate and help the street children – it isn’t just for the duration of the Street Child World Cup.