In the fourth 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 education.
Education has always been at the very heart of Sue Hayward’s work in Africa.
Before opening her Happy House Children’s Home two years ago, the Blackpool woman and her charity Children of Watamu, had already developed three schools putting 700 children in education in Watamu, Kenya.
“Education,” she says, “is the only road out of poverty.”
So it was a natural progression the Happy House should also have its own school, a school where Sue could introduce European teaching methods to Kenyan teachers who had no idea children could learn through play.
The results: Pupils from the school are outstripping the other 43 in the district. The Happy House School, which is, as funds allow, being extended to a full primary school, has set new standards which are being applauded by the district education officials.
For former teacher Myra Boyle, of Bispham, knowing her £20 a month sponsorship is helping to get an excellent education for four-year-old Saumu Safari is all important.
And by sending Saumu letters and photographs of her own family, explaining our traditions and habits, telling her about our country, weather and culture, she is doing her own bit to open a window on a wider world.
“That is very important to me,” says Myra, who enjoys sharing Saumu’s progress with her own grandson, Max, who is also five.
Saumu was rescued with two sisters and two brothers from a slum where they were being left to fend for themselves for days on end with the eldest, aged eight, trying to look after them.
They were eating scraps from neighbours, had only rags to wear, no shoes, and had never been to school.
She added: “When I first told Max about Saumu and where she lives he ran off to find a little toy for her and came back with a toy elephant because ‘elephants live in Africa’ and so does she.
“One of my main reasons for sponsoring the Happy House is because it is so personal and because of Sue. There is the connection between Blackpool and Watamu, I feel a deferred sense of pride in what Sue has done because she is from the town I live in.
“I know people who will take little things out there for me.
“If I ask them to give Saumu a hug from me, I know they will.”
“She is like a little gift to me.
“Her birthday is not until September but I already have her a dress, a doll and book and I know she will get them.
“There’s a real sunshine at the Happy House, it’s very well named.”
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