Jane, Jacqueline and Jan posing with a family in Lakartinya village on one of the family visits in Karare.

Jane Townsley

Jane and Ellie have been friends and work colleagues for many years through their connection as female police officers and their interest in gender issues. This is Janes’ second visit to Kenya. The first was with her husband, when they attended the wedding of Ellie and Stephen in Karare.

In 2018 Jane reached out to friends; Jacqueline Wilson and Jan Dorman, inviting them to join her to visit Amuka Foundation projects in Kenya. Their recent visit exceeded Janes’ expectations; with time to learn and develop a better understanding of the challenges faced by so many and how Amuka seeks to make a difference to many lives in the slums of Kibera, Ngando area in Nairobi and the rural town of Karare in Marsabit.

Jane said; “In many ways it was frustrating, knowing how much more we could have done given the chance to stay longer, but I am convinced of a need to return to provide support; however small, in supporting the communities.”

Jane enjoyed meeting those people on the ground, dedicating their time to educating and mentoring young people both at Kibera and Ngando. Jane was particularly happy to make a donation of text books to Village of Hope, Ngando. This donation was on behalf of family and friends who had sacrificed their usual Christmas gifts so that children in Kenya could advance their education. Jane said; “It was an absolute pleasure to present the books and see the excitement and happiness from both teachers and children.

Whilst in Ngando Jane also met she was able to meet the Tumaini Mama women’s group. learning how to sew and making items to sell. Realising they only have one sewing machine to work with, Jane is inspired to raise funds for a second machine. She intends gaining sponsorship when she will next run a 10 km race on 7th April in the UK.

Visiting the village of Karare was a fabulous experience, seeing first hand the resilience of people who have very little material possessions as well as further insights into cultural and traditional practices of the pastoralist communities. For Jane, respect was the thing that was evident wherever they went, not just for those still on this earth, but those recently departed too. “It was heartwarming to realise how little families have; children in particular, and how the heroes, the teachers, give so much with little or no resources. Throughout the time spent with Ellie, her family and friends, the generosity shown to us was overwhelming.”

Reflecting on their visit, Jane gained most satisfaction from her time with the women in Karare, teaching them to knit. Whilst time was just too short to develop their skills to the point of creating usable or saleable items from all the wool that was donated, Jane has decided that on her next visit she would like to spend several days with the women, enhancing their skills and helping to organise their manufacturing processes to enable them to provide for themselves and their families.

Jane is committed to continue playing her part as she feels there is so much to do in supporting Amuka. Together with Jan Dorman, Jane will be returning to St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School who donated lots of school uniform, to deliver a presentation to the pupils on their visit to Kenya. It is their hope that the school will continue to support Amuka, building a relationship between the school in Castleford and Loruko Primary school in Karare.

Jan Dorman

Jan was introduced to the Amuka Foundation after meeting with Jane Townsley a close friend to Ellie, the founder of Amuka. Jan has a background in nursing and after retirement now runs Nana Knits, a business she started four years ago, specialising in knitted items and commission work for clothing.

Jan has knitted and crocheted for many years. She remembers fondly how it all started with her grandmother teaching her to sew at the age of 4/5 years using her old sewing machine.

At the end of last year Jan made some wild animal footstools, they proved very popular and was able to make a donation to the Foundation. Jan is hopeful that next year she will have a small shop to display and sell her creations and make further donations.

Jan has been humbled and overwhelmed by the kindness of people she met during her visit, and motivated by the mentoring work achieved in such a short time. Jan realises that alot more needs to be done and schemes put in place to develop their skills and for the women to establish their businesses. Jan’s trip to Kenya was all inspiring, energising, sometimes sad, but overall enlightening, and she went home with a renewed energy, determined to help in some way. Jan is hopeful that her enthusiasm with inspire friends to sponsor some of the projects.

Jacqueline Wilson

Jackie; a police sergeant based at Nottingham British Transport Police, learnt about Amuka Foundation from her friend and mentor Jane Townsley. When Jane invited Jackie to join her in a visit Kenya she jumped at the opportunity.

Jackie was particularly interested in helping the children to get the education they were so desperate to have. Inspired by the determination of children to learn, Jackie compared commitment to learning in the UK.  Jackie thoroughly enjoyed visiting Kenya and was truly touched and humbled by the warm welcome she received in the Amuka project areas she visited. To her It was overwhelming by the appreciation the children and the ladies had for the donations they brought and the inspirational leaders at all the project areas.

Although she can’t promise to visit again she will definitely continue to raise awareness and gather more donations. As a grandmother of very young children she wants to specifically support the dispensary and she will be sending baby clothes to encourage mothers attend clinic and ensure healthy growth for their babies.

Jacqueline’s visit to Kenya has made her appreciate the things she has and not to be wasteful!