Pupils’ holiday inspires £20k African project

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Two students who were inspired by conditions at an African school while on holiday has led to a five year partnership between Pocklington School and a local charity.

The partnership has raised £20,000 for water projects and feeding programmes for the school and surrounding area.

While on holiday in Mombasa, Kenya, brothers Jake (17) and Max Galley (15) visited a local school in the Mkwakwani area.

They were shocked by what they saw – earth floors, no books, desks or proper toilets. At the Kenyan school they were told about an English woman, Suzanne Mehmet, who had set up a charity to provide basic equipment.

When they returned to their hotel, Jake was explaining their trip to another guest at the side of the pool, and later discovered this was Suzanne, who lives in Scarborough.

In the following years Suzanne made many visits to Pocklington School, speaking to different age group assemblies.

The school’s charity committee pledged five years’ support for her charity in aid of the school – the Mkwakwani Project.

In 2007, £4,000 from Pocklington School was used to build a toilet block.

Riots following elections in Kenya led to greater hardship among the poor and the next two years’ donations helped provide daily food packs for school pupils. The final two years have helped pay for the drilling of wells for clean drinking water to counter the threat of cholera that exists around Mombasa. So far, 19 boreholes have been drilled, some within the school compound.

Rob Peel, head of the charity committee at Pocklington School, said: “What began as a mercy mission for a particular school has grown into a charity helping the whole community in the Mkwakwani area.

“Suzanne Mehmet runs her charity work in conjunction with Kenyan Rotarians Mahesh Patel, Nizar Alimohamed and Anil Dodhia, officials of the Kilindini Rotary Club and together they are committed to ensuring that any funds donated to the project go directly to where it is needed.”