How I got involved with Kipkelion

People sometimes ask me why I set up a charity to help the people of Kipkelion in particular.  It’s a long story, but here’s the short version:

When I left school I had a gap year before going to University, and I heard of an opportunity to go and teach in a school in Kenya.  There weren’t many places which would accept an 18 year old to do a proper job overseas, and this sounded exciting.

When I arrived in Kipkelion in August 1977, it proved to be every bit as challenging as I had imagined.  I was far from home and there were no mobile phones or internet; I received a letter from my family in Britain every two weeks.  There was no electricity in the school where I lived and worked, and at night we relied on kerosene lamps; I washed in cold water, and shared my house with a combination of rats and bees.  I had only left school myself a few weeks before, and now I was facing classes of up to 50 Kenyan children, many of them not much younger than me.

By the end of that year I had ranged over much of the District, mainly on foot, meeting all sorts of people and learning about their lives.  Most had never been to school or even visited the nearby town.  Everywhere I had a warm welcome.

I went home at the end of the year and went to University and later had a career in finance.  But my perception of the world we live in had been permanently changed, and I never forgot about the people of Kipkelion.  I was shocked to hear of violence and bloodshed in the area after the 2007 elections.  There were clearly still enormous needs there.  I felt I had to do something – and setting up Friends of Kipkelion was the answer.