If all goes well, Jessica Rowe, a teenager from here in Draycott, will be plumbing, plastering and teaching in Kenya in eighteen months time.
Jessica, a girl-guide ranger, hopes to be volunteering on a project in a small, disadvantaged village called Kididema which is a few miles from the Kenyan city of Mombasa.
But first she and her fellow guides must raise over £20,000 to make the project happen.
Jess is a member of the Threapwood Guides Division, which covers most of the south Moorlands, including Draycott. She told us that she became fascinated by the project when she heard a talk given last summer by someone who had been out there.
The project is called ‘Our Kenyan Story – Twinkle’.
Girl guides from Staffordshire have been involved with this project since 2005; and during that time have helped build schools and a children’s hospice, and the furniture to go in them. Along the way, they have paid for, and helped install, electricity and water supplies. They paid for new school uniforms to be made by ladies locally. They have even arranged for supplies of donated books.
The project is now in its third phase, in which the guides will help re-build a community centre in a village called Kididema. Kididema is home to around 5000 people; and is a 30-minute drive from Mombasa.
The refurbished community centre will double as a church too.
The people who live in Kididema are farmers. They live in mud-made homes – without electricity, though they have built themselves a school.
However, funds coming from the guides meant that at least running water could be installed in the village; and that happened in 2012.
Jess is already planning ahead, working with her friend Jessica Renshaw (who lives in nearby Tean).
But what really can the pair of them do out there? “As much as we can!!” said Jess. “First, we are now taking courses in practical building tasks, so we can plaster and paint and do carpentry when we get out there. We will also be working in the school, teaching summer-school to little ones – and that too requires us to be trained. We will need to speak some Swahili too.
“One really fun task will be to design and paint a mural for the community centre’s walls, so we’re even studying graphics.”
There are six photos in this slideshow, which rotates automatically
Aren’t they scared at all? “No,” says the other Jessica. “We are getting lots of preparation in; and we already know that the villagers there are looking forward to us coming. The church leader there, Joshua, has been very encouraging and supportive.
“Also the guide leaders have allowed all of us to ask whatever questions we wanted, so I feel pretty happy about it.”
Fourteen girls and eight leaders are hoping to go. But, money is an issue.
As well as needing to raise funds for the work to be undertaken, the girls must pay for their own travel.
The group itself must raise £20,000 – and each girl must also raise a further £1200 by herself.
The two Jessicas are undaunted. “We will do it! Last month we went packing bags for shoppers at Cheadle B&M store, and people were very generous with donations.
“We’ve been busy setting up charity events – like fashion shows, music nights, cake-sales, and even a college pyjama day!
“We are also applying for grants where we can. We even hope Draycott Parish Council might let us have a little money too.”
To see what events Jess & Jessica have coming up – see our What’s On page.
The two girls have eighteen months to raise all this money, though they want to have it in the bank much earlier than that if they can.
But… why do they want to do it? After all, it means two weeks of very hard work under a very intense sun, with only a few breaks.
“Why? Well, because helping others who are less fortunate should be an aim for all of us I think. Also, you never know, it might stop some people thinking bad of teenagers: it could help remove the stigma.”
And – at a personal level? “Meeting people who live completely differently to us makes a big difference to your perceptions – I think that that is important for everyone… and … we are learning new skills!”
To contact the project with any query, email the pair at The Kididema Project – and help a girl from Draycott help youngsters in East Africa.
(For more about the ten years of the project see: ‘Our Kenyan Guiding Story’)
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