In the fifth part of our special look at how a Blackpool hotelier has set up a children’s home in Kenya, former Gazette Women’s Editor Elizabeth Gomm focuses on Maria’s story.
THE bond of friendship bridges the 4,000 miles that separate the Miles family in South Shore, Blackpool, and their Happy House sponsor child, Maria.
Karen Miles, her husband John and daughters Melissa, 13, and Lauren, 11, have sponsored Maria since she came to Happy House in 2010.
Karen said: “I read her story and I was in tears, and when I saw her smile it was love at first sight. She has become a part of our family. We love hearing her news, seeing her pictures and receiving a letter she had written herself was very, very special indeed.”
The family hope one day they will be able to visit the Happy House, opened by former Blackpool landlady Sue Hayward, to meet Maria.
Maria was 11 when she joined Sue’s family in June 2010, along with her younger brother, Hassan.
Their mother had died, and the youngsters were traumatised by their circumstances and in need of care and protection.
Maria and Hassan, are happy, confident and doing well in school.
It is thanks to the support of sponsors like the Miles’ family, who pay £20 a month, that they have their future secured at the Happy House.
John, who is a dj at Blackpool’s Soul Suite, said: “Children of Watamu is such a small charity makes sponsorship very personal. You know that every penny you give goes to the children to give them a better life, there’s nothing in between as with so many bigger charities.”
Karen added: “From the pictures and updates we receive from the Happy House, and also pictures on the charity blog or on Facebook, we can see how Maria has changed and how she is blossoming.
“We are delighted to have Maria as a part of our family, and it is made all the more special because this is a very small charity, started in Blackpool.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The Happy House has launched a ‘Find a Friend Appeal’.
It costs £20 a month to sponsor a Happy House child through Blackpool based charity, Children of Watamu (UK reg: 1098731)
You can also help by fund-raising or making a donation.
Please call Elizabeth Gomm on 07905 130589 (10am-6pm).
READ OUR PREVIOUS STORIES ON THE HAPPY HOUSE