Daughter and Father Team run for Romilly in the Bristol 10k Saturday 5th May

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At Christmas Laura, who is twenty decided that she wanted to do something to commemorate the death of her cousin twenty years ago. She bought herself and her father, Sam, tickets to race in the Bristol 10K this Sunday 5th May. Her aim is to raise money for the care of street children, which Romilly’s charity supports. Sam says that it was quite hard to begin with, being dragged outside to train in the wet and cold, but that he is now in peak physical condition. They keen to go.

If you missed the opportunity to sponsor Miki, and would like to help Romilly to help street children, please sponsor Laura and Sam here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LauraandSamForshall

If you would like to hear how Laura and Sam get on in the Bristol 10k, and how Romilly is helping street children, by receiving our occasional newsletter, please fill in the form below.

We promise not to give or sell your information to third parties.

 

Ex-street children on their way.

At the very least Friends of Street Children (FSC) provide homeless, very vulnerable children with a respite from the abusive, filthy life of the street. Beyond this,

Boys, classroom, Kitwe, Zambia, Africa, education
Meya Mbulo with boys in the classroom at Friends of Street Children shelter Kitwe

the aim is to reintegrate them with whatever remains of their families, and while these are being traced, get them back to school. School is one of the best ways to keep the children off the street, as well as equip them for life. Primary school fees are £12 and secondary school fees are £60 p.a per pupil at the time of writing. You can donate here.

In the picture above children pose in the classroom with teacher and administrator Meya Mbulo.  Meya has dedicated her life to street children. No one who has seen her in action with the children on the streets of Kitwe can doubt her compassion, dedication and courage. Through thick and thin, and there have been some very thin times, she has soldiered on.

Help Meya to help these children. Please donate here.

If you would like news of Meya’s work and how the children she cares for are progressing please fill in the form below.

 

 

 

From Street Child to Teacher

” I walk more than 6 kms to school and back. It is great excercise but sometimes I get too tired”, says Kunda Benson. When he was very young, five years old, both Kunda’s parents died and he ended up homeless, living on the streets from 1999 to 2002. He was taken into care by Friends of Street Children in Kitwe (FSC). Kunda had the imagination to see that it was worth going back to school, which, with FSC’s help, he did. He had the character and determination to pass his exams year after year, while also helping at the FSC shelter.  He succeeded in passing the exams to take a place on a teacher training course. Now he will be taking his final exams in April, which will enable him to start his teaching practice. Kunda has always wanted to give something back and still helps at the FSC shelter.

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Kunda in the lab.

Kunda’s choice may seem like the obvious one, but not to all street children. For many, the idea of submitting to the discipline of the classroom in order to achieve long term goals is too difficult. Kunda has shown real imagination, tremendous purpose and determination, but there are other street children like Kunda, who follow his example. Their school fees need to be paid. Currently  these are about £88 p.a per child in secondary school, depending on the exchange rate. If you would like to donate to support street children returning to school, please go to https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/donation-web/charity?charityId=1003642&stop_mobi=yes

Thanks to the donors and supporters of Romilly, the college fees of this exceptional young man have been paid for the last three years. Thank you all. Kunda writes, ‘I am so thankful for everything that you are doing for me and I am deeply humbled’.

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Kunda Benson ex Street Child, and, thanks to Romilly’s generous supporters, Trainee Teacher.

After his teaching practice he will return to college for six more months. If you would like to contribute to his fees for this, please donate at

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/donation-web/charity?charityId=1003642&stop_mobi=yes

 

 

 

 

 

A special anniversary.

It was round about now, early evening as I write, twenty years ago that Romilly died. She was 14 years old.  Romilly was very clever, as sharp as a tack, very funny but not remotely academic. She found school work dull. The bit she liked about school was being naughty with her friends. She was great fun, and had a wonderful sense of humour. She loved children though, and would have had a natural sympathy with the homeless children surviving in appalling conditions in Kitwe, Zambia.Rom smiles in pool

The generosity of friends, family and strangers, touched by her death and the plight of these children, has achieved a great deal. Through the support that you have given to the Naivasha Children’s Shelter in Kenya, which you helped to create, and Friends of Street Children in Zambia, which owes its continued existence to you, lives have been transformed. Relations have been traced, children given a chance, school fees paid,  salaries for teachers and carers paid, classrooms, shelters built, children rescued from the terrible life of the street. Lives have been saved. It really is something. If Romilly were alive to thank you she would, but since she is not I do.

‘Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart’.

Help Romilly help homeless, vulnerable children:  please donate at

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/donation-web/charity?charityId=1003642&stop_mobi=yes

 

 

 

The Death of Christopher Mulenga

Christopher Mulenga died on 3rd September 2018. He was the chief executive of Friends of Street Children, the Zambian NGO, based in Kitwe, which Romilly currently helps to support.

He was one of the founders of FSC and worked tirelessly for its survival and that of the children it champions.  For years he suffered from diabetes and recurring bouts of malaria. These were very debilitating. Earlier this year he started to loose his sight, and just before his death had undergone surgery on one of his eyes. Through all this I believe that he was sustained by his strong Christian faith and his sense of duty to the children.

He was a great ambassador for FSC, charming, courteous and endlessly good humoured in often very difficult circumstances.  He was patient and determined. He was a pleasure to be with and to talk to, and I will miss him greatly. He is mourned by his wife, family, and colleagues.

He died at a time when FSC, with help from Romilly and Friends of Africa, was undertaking considerable changes in management and in the members of its board. These changes will build on Christopher’s work and help to make Friends of Street Children, to which Christopher gave so much of his life, even more effective in the protection, care and reintegration of the horribly vulnerable children and young people, whom Christopher sought to serve.

In his management role he will be succeeded by Meya Mbulo, a long standing FSC staff member, who like Christopher is a teacher by profession. Meya is very capable and highly regarded by her colleagues, and by anyone who has seen her in action in the streets of Kitwe.

James Forshall

Walking 825 kms for Street Children

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My niece, Georgie Forshall, is walking 512 miles/825 kms along along the Caminha del Norte to raise funds to help street children. It’s not the well known pilgrim route to St Jaques,  but the lesser  known trail along the coast. She expects it to take 35 days. It is a serious undertaking: thirsty, relentless work. Thank you Georgie. You can sponsor her here.

Most of Romilly’s resources currently help to support the Friends of Street Children project in Kitwe Zambia. Thanks to the generosity of Romilly’s supporters her charity is currently able to contribute £800 a month towards the salaries of the staff, those who care for the children in the girls’ and boys’ shelters, work on the educational programs, making contact with the children and tracing their families or what is left of them. This is difficult, some times dangerous work. The charity has also paid for ex street child, Benson, to go to teacher training college.

The life of street children in a town like Kitwe, near the shanty towns around the copper mines and the boarder with the Congo is brutal. Rape, murder, beatings, drug abuse, and prostitution are the common lot of street children. For girls there is often no choice but to buy protection with sex. Friends of Street Children (FSC) is the only effective street child project in Kitwe. Its role is vital to them. Staff visit the streets during the day and night and provide a presence and a link to a safer world. Street children can stay at the shelter, in the dormitories built by Romilly, while they are reintegrated in the education system and their families, if they have any. The Zambian government only pay for children to go to school up to year 7. One of the best ways to keep children off the street is to get them into school and Friends of Street Children pay for some of the children to go to school.The finances of the shelter are fragile but the work they do is vital for these children.

Please support this work by sponsoring Georgie here.

The trustees of Romilly’s charity would like to be able to pay for more of the children in contact with FSC to go to school, as well as extend the range of skills that can be learnt at the shelters in Kitwe, Zambia.

Meet Benson: Street Hero

Benson’s parents died when he was five. His older sisters were left to care for him, but they didn’t….

Young African man from Zambia in blue against a green background

They mistreated him, badly enough for him to take his chances on the street when he was seven years old. He was homeless in Mufulira for three months and then came to Kitwe, where he was also homeless. For a while he stayed with Friends of Street Children, leaving them for an orphanage run by the Catholic Church, from which he ran away. FSC street workers picked him up and lodged him at the FSC Kawama centre.

From the FSC Kawama centre he went daily to primary school, passed the national examinations with flying colours and was accepted by his secondary school, which he completed. This is a considerable achievement for someone who started life as a street child. Benson has always wanted to be a lawyer, so that he could defend street children, but until now he has not had the sponsorship to go to university. Since leaving school he has worked at the FSC Kawama centre, helping out with street children. He understands them and speaks their language. Throughout his life he has shown, resilience, intelligence, determination and courage. For his fellow street children he is a remarkable example.

Thanks to the generosity of Romilly’s supporters, her charity has been able to transfer £300 for Benson’s first term at teacher training college.

If you would like to donate in order to help fund the next term of Benson’s teacher training course you can do so here.

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charities/romilly

My thanks to Christopher Mulenga for sending me the photograph of Benson.

 

 

 

 

 

Saving a child, Easter Sunday, 2015

In the warmth of the African night three outreach workers of Friends of Street Children (FoSC) were walking through Kitwe market. During the day this is a colourful part of town. At night it is sinister. Here and there naked bulbs hanging from the stalls throw out dingy pools of yellow light. Shadowy figures can been seen sleeping on the market stalls and in the dark under the board walks homeless children sleep near open drains.  Drunken men lurch out of the shadows.  Here the three out reach workers found a 14 year old boy. He had been badly beaten and raped. He was in great pain and near to death. It was just after 10.00 p.m. on Easter SundayStreet child sitting on bed with rescuer

David with one of his rescuers, Meya from FoSC    Thanks to Barry Traynor the photograph

They took him to the Hill View Hospital, where FoSC have an account, and where the chief clinician admires FoSC’s work. David was treated there for four days. His life had been saved.

Good Work by FoSC

Barry Traynor, a social worker from Northern Ireland, who has just returned from a visit to Kitwe and who over a number of years has spent 3 years working with FoSC praises their work, ‘Honestly, when I’m out there I am constantly amazed by the number of confident young people who say to me that their life was saved by FoSC’.

Not all children are as lucky as David though. Christopher Mulenga of FoSC says, ‘The life of a street child is brutal and short. Apart from the ones who we are able to reintegrate with whatever remains of the their families,  the ones who live longest are those who end up in prison,  and most of them do not come out of there alive’.

I am walking from Gretna Green to Inverness across some very rugged country to raise money to help Street Children. Please donate. http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/RomillysOneIslandWalk

 

The Englishman, The Australian and the Scotsman – Day 22 of Romilly’s One Island Walk for Street Children

(If you’re new to the blog:  I’m walking to John O’Groats to raise money to help street children through Romilly’s charity. The story starts at the post on the right: ‘Where shall we park the car?’)

Swan, Leeds Liverpool CanalLancaster Canal  © James Forshall

Have you heard the one about the Englishman, The Scotsman and the Australian?

It was a bit like that the next day at breakfast in the B and B, except it was three Scotsmen, an Australian and his wife, our hosts who were from Lancashire…and me.  We were all  eating at the same table which made for lively conversation.  One of the Scotsmen and the Australian were talking about the price of airline tickets to Australia.  Our host didn’t think much of it, and standing behind his chair, he was a big man, turned to me,

‘You said how you’d liked the people in the North on your walk. Well let me tell you, a lot of us would go with the Scots when it comes to the referendum.’  The three Scotsmen, sitting opposite me and were looking at me hard. I quickly disassociated myself from the Conservatives, whose ineptitude have much so much to make the mess in which we find ourselves.

‘I’m a paid up member of the Green Party’.

‘That did it for me, that remark by your P.M.’, said the  youngest of the three Scots.

‘What did he say?’

‘About Scotland becoming a third world country…What’s he called that clown?’

‘Not Milliband?’

‘Well let me tell you, he’s lost the Labour vote in Scotland’

Someone said something about immigration.

‘Well, if you want to stop that, vote Ukip’, I said. ‘That’s a great way to stick it to the Tories’, I said.

‘We’re with you there’ said the older Scotsman.

‘ Yup,’ said our host, ‘They’re voting Ukip’.

Someone said, ‘What’s this about us not having the pound?’

‘Well there’s no way Scotland will have the pound if they vote for independence’.

It sounds so mean doesn’t it. A bit like an a child saying, ‘You can’t play with my toys’. I could see this wasn’t going down well, and wished I’d been able to explain why it was contradictory to wish to leave Britain but keep the British pound; and how divorced couples don’t share bank accounts for good reason; and how the Euro area had shown what happened when you had currency union without political union, but breakfast was breaking up and there wasn’t time.  We said good bye amicably but I had a feeling that I turned three ‘may be’s’ into three definite, ‘Yes’s

But how is it that at the island’s biggest constitutional crossroads since 1707, the decision of a day to keep or break the union, which took 200 years to make, and which served both countries well for 300 years, bringing peace where there had been centuries of border conflict and bloody war; how was it that the people making that decision still did not know or understand what the forseeable consequences of that decision will be?

How is it that our politicians have allowed this problem to fester for so long? Does the party of the Union, which has so spectacularly failed to protect it, imagine that if the Union breaks up they are going to be allowed 1000 years of Tory misrule?

The three Scotsmen, all nice, polite friendly men worked nights, changing signs for Tesco stores. I wondered how they would feel if the Union breaks up and they had to produce passports every time they came down to do a job for Tesco’s. Imagine the tail backs; but border controls there will be.

The Australians’ had said good bye. I finished my breakfast with the B and B owners.

‘My wife’s going blind. We’ll have to sell the business’, said the man.

‘We’ve lost our culture,’ she said, ‘Now sometimes I’m afraid to say I’m English’

‘Yet, they all want to come here’, said her husband,’That’s how bad we are.’

‘What’s everybody’s is nobody’s’ she said, ‘and in the end nobody cares for it’.

Sunken boat, rushes, water, Leeds Liverpool CanalLancaster Canal © James Forshall

I went back to the Canal and headed north.  It was a lovely day.

I’m walking a long way to help raise money so that Romilly can give street children a chance. If you would like to help, please donate at

http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/RomillysOneIslandWalk

Aintree to Burscough Day 21 of Romilly’s One Island Walk for Street Children

( I am walking to John O’Groats to raise money to help street children through Romilly’s charity. The story starts with the post on the right, ‘Where shall we park the car?’)

Squashed Foster beer cansFosters Cans   © James Forshall

While I had waited for nice Courtney at reception to book me into my room, a succession of middle aged men had come into the hotel asking for their keys.  One of them explained to Courtney that they were a party of golfers and that they were about to meet up for drink and then go out on the town. They had already had one session after their game. It was 9.45 pm. ‘Will you be having breakfast?’ Courtney asked. ‘Oh I shouldn’t think so. I don’t expect we’ll get back until around 6.00 a.m. We didn’t last night, least ways’.

As I came out of the shower I heard a loud bang and then a furious hooting. I looked out of the window one of the golfers had reversed his car into that of another golfer.  Notice advertising free pudding©  James Forshall

The next morning I picked up the abandoned railway track of the night before. Before long it opened into a patch of disused ground and then disappeared into a scrub of willows and brambles. It ran north along  the east side of the Aintree race track. There were places with sensational views of individual jumps just a few yards from the path.  I walked on through suburbs and then came to the canal.yellow flowers by canalLeeds Liverpool Canal  © James Forshall

A man was fishing. I asked him if he ate the fish. ‘No. It’s just for fun’. He jerked on his line. The rod bent. He pulled on it hard but the hook was stuck in weed.  A few hundred yards further on I came to the first cornfield.

View of cornfield through metal railings with convovula on leftView of the River Alt from the Leeds Liverpool Canal © James Forshall

I was making for the junction of the Leeds Liverpool Canal and the Lancaster Canal at Burscough. From there the Lancaster canal went due north more or less to Preston, but having crossed the Mersey on the ferry I was now too far west and had to work my way east.

I followed the canal north to the M57 where it went under the motorway. After that it headed west, so I left it and joined the road to …well on the map it didn’t seem to be going anywhere but up to the M58, a hundred yards in front of which it stopped, but it was heading north and from it I could take another road north east, shadowing the M58, which I would then cross and head north on the B5240 to Lathom.

The land was flat. To the south I could see squat tower blocks: Kirby?  St Helens?.  I walked past farms, and ditches full of rubbish.  Who does this?rubbish in a ditch© James Forshall

From time to time I had to put on my waterproof coat, but most of the time it was dry and sunny. A powerful wind was blowing which bent the trees, pulling on the pale undersides of the leaves, buffeting my rucksack.   I crossed the motorway and at Stanley Gate and went into a pub, which was full of people eating. ‘It’s late for lunch.’  ‘Not on a Sunday it isn’t’, said the young Scots manager. I wondered which way his family would be voting on the 18th September.

Blue portable lavatory, toilet, w.c. on wheels on edge of road by fields, blue sky, puffy clouds© James Forshall

I walked on. There was probably less than five miles to go. The wind tore across my path.  It was early evening by the time I got to the Ring O’Bells. It’s beside the canal. Cyclists were leaving it to continue down the tow path and colourful barges were mored beside it.  I went inside ordered beer and crisps. On the table beside me a young man and a much older man were talking about raising money to fund the younger man’s motorbike racing career, and how to make money out of it. ‘See, most people like uz know this recuvery’s all piss ‘nd wind’, said the older man. The girl behind the bar gave me the name of a B and B. I rang. The woman sounded nice, pleased that I had called even though it was late. When I left the pub it was dark.  Weak BridgeBridge over the Lancaster Canal  © James Forshall

The woman showed me to a comfortable room. I showered. Washed my boxer shorts and socks, hung them out to dry in the shower room and fell asleep. It had been a long,  if uneventful day.

If you would like to help Romilly give street children a chance donate at

http://www.virginmoneygiving/team/RomillysOneIslandWalk