Fylde Author helps write a new chapter for African school

Children with the fresh water at Irovo
Children with the fresh water at Irovo

A writer has teamed up with businesses across Lancashire to bring water to a remote community's school for the first time.

Author Alan Whelan, who has had several books published based on his epic motorcycle travels in Africa, has helped a tiny Kenyan village build a school for its children who were getting little or no education.

Children in Shalom Academy in Irovo

Children in Shalom Academy in Irovo

Alan came across the school by accident in 2012 after being miss-directed during research for his book Empire Road. He met Pastor Vitalis who was struggling to help children there to learn as their parents could not afford to meet the basic requirements of attendance at government schools, namely a uniform, shoes and rudimentary supplies such as pens, pencils and notebooks.

Alan was charmed by the community and decided to help, founding a support charity Strive for Excellence, mobilising friends and business contacts to send supplies and raising money to build the school - Shalom Academy.

Now a Leyland print solutions company which has clients across the county, Evolve Document Solutions, has paid for clean water supply to the growing school.

The much needed infrastructure, the first of its kind in the village of Irovo, channels water into two 1,000-litre water tanks, and is already transforming the lives of both children and teachers.

Alan Whelan with Pastor Vitalis, village elder Philip Malimu Tosi, and headmaster Mr Bondi

Alan Whelan with Pastor Vitalis, village elder Philip Malimu Tosi, and headmaster Mr Bondi

Alan said: "Even though the sun can be relentless during drought periods in this part of Kenya, when it rains it pours, so the solution was to install a water harvesting system that saved rainwater for use all year round.

"The school we’re building is going great guns. It is now twinned with two schools in the Preston area."

Evolve managing director Daniel Maddox heard about the plight of the village school in Western Kenya after attending a talk about Strive for Excellence by Alan Whelan.

Daniel said: “Since our inception in 2011, Evolve has always lent a helping hand to educational causes in the UK and overseas. When I heard that Shalom Academy had no running water to cook and wash, it looked like a problem we could easily solve.

"We’re proud to have done our bit to support a small project with a huge impact. The children now wash their hands and the school cook can prepare lunch each day at two water stations in the playground, saving a two-kilometre walk to the river to gather water.”