2018 has been a year of significant and exciting change for our organisation in the UK. In April 2018 Vic Hancock Fell joined the team as the UK Director, followed closely by Vicky Powell our new Fundraising Officer (yes, two Victorias!). Vicky and Vic, along with our team in Kenya and the Board of Trustees in the UK have lots of exciting plans for the charity in the coming months and years. With such exciting developments on the horizon, the team felt it was the time to welcome some new members to our UK Board of Trustees. Many of our original Trustees had been on the charity’s Board since it was founded in 2001 and have supported the charity over the last 17 years. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them!
I was Chair of Trustees of Vision Africa (now operating in the name of Raising Futures Kenya) since it began back in 2001 and have seen the charity grow from a few small school projects to supporting up to two thousand children a year. However, at last year’s AGM I announced that I will be stepping down on 21st July, 2018. I am very proud of what we have achieved over the past 17 years, but the time has come to turn the reins over to someone new.
With this in mind, I thought it would be good to reflect on just a few of the many achievements of the charity over the years since I became Chair. When I consider this I am reminded of the big building projects we embarked upon in our early days where we constructed many school classrooms, nursery units, kitchen units and the like to allow very run down primary schools take in many more children and provide them with a daily hot meal – possibly the only meal they would get that day. Also, at the request of the local children’s welfare group we constructed the children’s home at Mbeere and refurbished the home at Kandara, as well as providing a home for abandoned babies. Things have moved on since those days and today we are more concerned with getting children back into a family environment.
However, I think the two areas where we have had the most significant long term impact has been firstly with our Seed of Hope programme and the centres we constructed to support it, providing vocational and micro-enterprise training to disadvantaged young people who could not gain access to secondary education and thereby giving hope for the future to those that would otherwise be on the margins or open to abuse and extreme poverty. Secondly, our pioneering work with children with disabilities and learning difficulties and the special needs schools we have built or expanded at Kambiti (the Percy Davies School) and at Kirunguru, where we have provided a safe place for those most marginalised of children to learn and to become the best that they can be. We have also supported the parents and families of these children to help them to cope with the difficulties of caring for children which society has historically shunned.
Of course, I cannot take credit for these things, that is down to you, our fantastic supporter, and our brilliant team in Kenya led initially by John and Vera Packard and then, until recently, by Deborah Kimathi. With your incredible support, and the new team to which we handover, I know this incredible work will continue.
So, it is time for me to bid farewell, but also (this is the exciting bit!) to introduce you to our new team. We are still going through the process of appointing a long term successor for me, but I am pleased to say that Andy King, one of our new Trustees, will be stepping up to take on the role as interim Chair and will lead the Trustees Board for the next year, working closely with Vic. I am delighted to introduce you to Andy!
I would like to thank all of our supporters for the kind and generous support shown to our work since we were founded in 2001. I cannot wait to work with our new team to take the charity to new heights with you in the coming years. I, like our supporters, am deeply passionate about the work we do to raise the future potential of children and young people in Kenya, and would love to speak to any and all of you about your history with Raising Futures Kenya, and where you’d like to see our work focusing moving forwards. On behalf of all of our new Trustees, I would like to thank you all again, and I hope our paths cross in the future.