Tuesday, 11 March 2008


I have been asked many times why I went to Africa to start this charity.

I suppose it was almost 13 years ago when I found myself living alone following divorce and my 2 daughters leaving for University. There had to be changes and I began the long journey.
Sometimes exciting, sometimes painful and often difficult, but I am so happy to say that I feel I have made it.

When I began to notice the materialistic way most of us were living in this country I found myself wondering what it would be like to live with nothing. That was the beginning, the only way was to go and have a look for myself so in 2004 I went off to India to do some work for a charity in Himachal Pradesh. Himalayas here I come.

It ticked a few boxes, trekking the Himalayas, visiting and seeing the Dali Lama and the displaced Tibetan community, the true Buddhist experience, living life in a very poor area in the foothills amongst the community and hearing their stories. Watching the Indian world wake up to sunshine, eagles flying overhead, views of snow capped mountains and then the eyes lower to small boys milking goats for milk which will sell to provide some rice for lunch. To toileting taking place in the undergrowth and the few children whose parents could afford the fees walking to school.

I worked in a school with the poorest children with learning difficulties and deafness. Their classroom was stuck at the end of a boy’s school with bars on the windows and NO appropriate equipment to be seen. The teacher was a physiotherapist with no experience except in the making of Chai to keep her awake. The children were hit with sticks for fighting, and expected to learn by that.

I took prisoners who were addicted to drugs and alcohol on guided meditations to places of peace and was touched by their commitment to these exercises. Great experience. Then I had cancer which is a story for another time.

I returned the following year with a friend and had a wonderful time but this was not what I was looking for. I needed to go to Africa. I had had dreams the previous year of me being surrounded by black children, perhaps this was Africa. A return to the internet provided links to various charities and I chose a church based organisation from Milton Keynes. They were bound to do everything with love and compassion.

On arrival in Lira a town in North Africa, an area affected by 20 years of rebel activity I travelled over the month to remote villages where families were trying to return to some normality in life. I saw the displacement camps which were supposed to keep these people safe but had actually been the breeding grounds, for the spread of HIV, where women and children had been abused, where aid was the only means of legal survival and theft and prostitution providing other ways.

I cried and laughed at the same time, made some long lasting friendships and began to feel the way personal relationships unaffected by physical things worked. I saw how faith in God provided a great support for these people and how communities were one in their strength and determination to stay positive despite everything. The charity I went with had a project leader claiming to be a Christian Pastor from the Milton Keynes Church. I was saddened by the bullying tactics I witnessed, by the racist remarks I heard and the fear shown on the faces of African workers as he shouted his instructions and humiliated them in front of others.

That was my decision made. I had to come back to do it properly.

I returned on 11th March 2008 and that is where this story begins.