TWO East Kilbride charities have enriched the lives of poverty-stricken children in Kenya through sport.
Charity leaders from East Kilbride Community Trust (EKCT) and Sight Aid International (SAI) are just back from a mercy mission in the African nation where they not only got involved in a local food programme, but brought the community of Thika Town in the Kiandutu slum together with a football tournament.
SAI co-founder Sean Walls tested children’s eyes in the orphanages and local schools and also donated clothes to various orphanages on the 10-day visit before teaming up with EKCT’s chief executive Monique McAdams to feed 300 kids in the slums in conjunction with Kenyan charity Joy Divine Children’s Organisation. The town turned out in their droves to watch the tournament – organised by Angaza Sport Development – with most players taking part with only one shoe or football boot on.
Monique admits that she was taken aback by the whole experience.
She told the News: “East Kilbride has a population of about 85,000 people and when teams play their home games at K-park we have in the past had a crowd of about 400 people.
“I was bowled over to say the least to be in Thika, which has a population of 20,000, and to think that nearly 1500 of these people had come out to support the different players of each teams from the two tournaments that were running consecutively is incredible.
“They were the epitome of what a real community is and a fantastic example of one that had been brought together by football.
“I think it would be fantastic to see our community in East Kilbride come together through football the way Angaza has at Kiandutu slum.”
After witnessing the stunning success of their partnership with the East Kilbride organisations, Dedan Njorge who is director of Angaza thanked everyone involved for their support.
He added: “The EKFC 2012 inaugural girls’ and boys’ tournaments were a great success.
“EKFC and SAI have played a major role in boosting our sports and development work through participation and donation.
“We deeply appreciate it.
“It was also great to meet another charity, EKCT, who aim to make their community better by encouraging participation in sporting activities.
“I believe football is an excellent tool for bringing the community together.”
After the tournament, the children also got their hands on the Olympic Torch.
Sean was a torch-bearer in the build-up to the summer Games in London and he took the torch with him for the youngsters to experience.
Sean added: “I was delighted to be part of the East Kilbride FC cup which we helped arrange in the Kiandutu slum.
“Seeing both boys and girls playing football with either one shoe or no shoes was very humbling, as was sponsoring and taking part in the feeding programme for 305 slum children.”
Following their experiences in Kenya, Sean and Monique will embark on a seven-day porridge challenge – functioning on just one bowl a day – to raise awareness for a children’s centre in Nairobi.
by Paul Thomson, East Kilbride News