We have a new member of the Uzima team. Clare Griffin MBE, manager of the charity that runs West Wight Sports & Community Centre in Freshwater, Isle of Wight has become our first patron. Her role is to support the work of the Trustees and help the charity develop its work and fund raising initiatives.
Clare said “I am honoured to have been asked to become Uzima in Our Hands first patron. I’ve supported Uzima for several years and have made two visits there. Having seen the work that the charity does on the ground in Kenya, I know just how important Uzima is to the lives of the children it supports.
As the manager of a charity on the Isle of Wight, I know only too well what challenges there are - complying with regulations, employing staff, working with volunteers, raising and managing finances, managing news and media - to name but a few! I am in awe of Joy, Louise, Rachel and Viv who do this as volunteers in their spare time. On top of that they have the added complication of being thousands of miles away from the work of the charity!
In the time I’ve been involved, I’ve seen real progress. In 2017 on my first visit, there was no kitchen other than a tin shack with a wood fuelled open fire in it where the cook produced two meals a day for the 300+ children. It was so full of smoke I couldn’t even stand in the doorway, but this amazing woman spent every day in there cooking for all the children. Her health was, not too unsurprisingly, very poor as a result. In 2019 on my second visit, a purpose built kitchen had been built and working conditions had significantly improved for her.
On my first visit, we treated numerous children for jiggers – a parasite that burrows into bare feet and causes long term pain and deformities in children’s feet. Through regular checks by volunteers on each visit, and the purchase of shoes twice a year this has now all but been eradicated amongst the children.
My passion is sport, and on my second visit we took football kits. It was one of the most inspiring and moving moments when I saw the children transformed when changing from their raggedy clothes, and replacing them with the football kit. They suddenly looked like any other child anywhere in the world. If I ever needed proof that sport was a great leveller – this was it!
These are just some small examples of the fantastic work Uzima does. I really hope I can help the Trustees build on that work and continue to improve the lives of Uzimas children. If you would like to get involved, please CONTACT UZIMA. They always need more child sponsors and this can be for as little as £15/month or you can get in touch to organise your own fund raising activity.”