Kind-hearted Huddersfield Town fans are being asked to provide shirts for an orphanage in Kenya.
The Mamboleo Youth Project, based in Kisumu, Western Kenya, looks after 27 orphans aged eight to 17 – and they are all keen supporters of our Premier League football club.
One of the trustees of the project is Ahmed Khan, originally from Slaithwaite but now living in South Shields, and he has tapped into the youngsters’ interest in football.
Now, 56-year-old Ahmed is keen to set up a Town Supporters Club at the project and wants to take out some shirts when he visits with his wife, Maureen, from April 4 to 23.
They can’t afford new shirts from Town, so they hope Town fans might be generous enough to donate old ones – ideally in sizes up to teens – which they no longer need.
“Kenyans, like most Africans, are obsessed with Premiership football, but unfortunately most of them follow the Big 6!” explained Ahmed, who studied at Nields Junior, Colne Valley High, Newsome and Huddersfield Tech.
“However, for the past couple of years the children have been following the exploits of The Terriers mainly through photographs and short video clips I have taken from some of the games.
“Premier League football is shown widely on Kenyan satellite channels and, although the children now have a TV, we are unable to afford the monthly subscription which would allow them to watch a Town game in full.
“I have spoken to (Town ambassador) Andy Booth and he has kindly sent me a few pictures, stickers and a flag for the children.
“This is wonderful, but I would dearly love to provide the children with a Town shirt.
“Sadly our funds will not stretch to a new one and, even if they did, we could not justify the expenditure given our other priorities, for example the children desperately need shoes – currently they have only one pair each plus a pair of flip flops!
“It occurred to me that many Town fans, like myself, will have accumulated an assortment of football shirts over the years which are probably hiding in a suitcase in the loft, or loitering in the bottom of a wardrobe – so why not recycle them to a worthwhile cause?
“Not only would the children be absolutely overjoyed to receive their very own – and first – football shirt, but the fact that people in the UK are thinking about them and sending them a gift of a shirt would mean the world to them.”
Ahmed, who still has family in Huddersfield and attends Town home matches when he can (he can’t get tickets for away games), became involved in the project six years ago, when they were invited to a friend’s wedding in the Rift Valley and spent a few days in Kisumu.
“We are basically providing a home, an education and above all a future to 27 orphans aged eight to 17,” explained Ahmed, who has been a Town fan since the age of eight.
“A number of the children became orphans as a result of the 2008 election violence, and others because their parents died after contracting Aids.
“The children are cared for full-time by our project director, Jeconia Ochieng (aka Jack) who the children refer to as Baba (father).
“From the outset of the project we have encouraged the children to think of each other as a family, rather than orphans, so they get a feeling of belonging but, more importantly, the have a family network around them to help and support each other now and into their adult lives.”
The project is registered as a charity in the UK and as a Community Based Organisation (CBO) in Kenya.
“We do not receive any government funding and rely totally on donations – 100% of which is spent directly on the children,” he added.
“Unfortunately donations only meet a fraction of the cost, so the vast majority of funding comes from myself and fellow trustee Annie O’Connor, without which the project wouldn’t continue.”
Anyone who would like to donate a Town shirt to the project – Ahmed is travelling on April 4 – can email him at email@example.com or phone him on 07913 223034.
The project have their own website: http://www.mamboleoyouthproject.org