Due to Covid-19 we were unable to run trips to Kenya between 2020 and 2022. However, this did not stop us building 5 houses.
Thanks to funds raised by those who had signed up to our 2020 trip, we were able to build Simon and his family their new house in March 2021 in our GEF Iten village. We are honoured that their new house was built in memory of the late GB international runner and truly wonderful man, Chris Smith. We thank his family for allowing us to remember Chris in this way.
30-year-old Simon Mwangi lived down the valley from Iten town with his mother and four young nieces and nephews. We first met Simon when we welcomed some Kenya Experience running guests to visit the previous house of a family our volunteers built a home for in 2016. We hadn’t expected to find anyone in the broken mud house and so were shocked that Simon and his family were living there. From this point on we got to know Simon well. He is a lovely young man and talented runner. The whole family had decided to move to Iten from Central Kenya so that he could focus on his training that in turn could give them the chance of life changing income. Shortly after his move to Iten he won the Ndakaini Half Marathon which should have meant he received the equivalent to £2,400 in prize money but the organisers refused to pay any of the winners. This was of huge disappointment to us all as the sum would have completely changed Simon and his family’s lives.
He has helped GEF and Kenya Experience guests on many occasions by running with them to show them different routes around Iten. To get to the starting points for his own training he would previously run several kilometres up the steep and busy rift valley road to Iten. He is a man with huge determination and spirit. Thanks to monthly sponsors and partners we are now providing his younger relatives Aidah, Aidah, Mary and Joseph with school fees, uniform, shoes, stationery, books and school meals.
Thanks to a £20,000 donation from a couple who wish to remain anonymous, local workers, volunteers and GEF staff were also able to build houses for these 4 wonderful families below.
Mama Vivian & her children previously lived on the same street where Myles Edwards and his family lived in Kenya. Myles first became aware of the family when Vivian, then aged 17, knocked on his door and politely asked for 500 shillings (£4) to be able to get the bus back to boarding school because she had no money. She could have asked for anything but she just wanted to get to school!
After Vivian’s mum found out Myles had helped she took a bag of potatoes to the GEF office to say thank you. She had worked a full day to earn that bag of potatoes. As a casual worker she works on farms and sometimes gets paid in produce rather than money. As a single mum Mama Vivian really struggled to support her family, they lacked enough food and on occasion couldn't afford to pay their rent. When that happened the family were locked out of their single room house because the landlord had put a padlock on the door until rent was received and they would sleep outside in the cold. Despite this Mama Vivian and the kids Vivian, Karen, Sandra & Gloria continued to smile and hope.
Their new house at our GEF village has kept those smiles and hope burning bright and Mama Vivian is thriving with her small garden and additional one acre farm where she is growing maize for consumption and sale.
Mama Rency lived in a single room rental house with her four young girls. She worked long shifts on building sites where she was paid up to 300ksh (£2) per day; and so affording basic needs was a huge challenge. Her youngest daughter, Joy, is a toddler and so she also had to pay someone to look after her for half a day until the older children came home from school and took over.
Her 3 other daughters, Miriam, Rency, and Valentine, were previously constantly at risk of being sent home from school due to school fee debts that had accrued. Thanks to 3 individuals who sponsor them each month, the girls are now in school full-time without fear of being sent home.
The family now have the safe living and study space they deserve in our GEF village along with their additional acre of land for farming.
Asman, his mum and 4 siblings previously lived in a small single room house where they would struggle to pay the rent despite his mum working very hard selling groceries. The funds from the £20,000 donation enabled us to build them a 3 bedroom house with the living area pictured below. The children are now all in school, whilst Asman studied Petroleum and Geo Science at college.
Felician lives with her parents and siblings Anita, Brian, Rodgers, Joan, Ivy and Kevin. Previously the parents and 2 of the children lived in the house pictured behind Felician above, whilst the remaining siblings had to stay with neighbours due to the lack of space. The roof of the small mud house would regularly leak in water when it rained and prior to the family being introduced to GEF, they lived without beds, blankets or furniture. The family are now living happily in their new home which was built on their own plot of land nearby the GEF village.