Caroline Newton might be a Rotarian of only a year or so, but she is not a lady to let the grass grow under her feet, as we discovered when she spoke to Leicester Novus about the Friends of Kianjai Kenya.
Caroline, a member of the Rotary Club of Grantham Kesteven, first visited the Meru National Park in 2011 with a friend. She found communities of 1,200 families who had been hit badly by a famine, caused by a drought. As the mother of a son with disabilities, she was particularly drawn to help families in a situation similar to hers.
But in Kenya, there is such a strong stigma surrounding disabilities that many affected children are hidden away — or worse. Caroline and others established the Friends of Kianjai Kenya and she has returned more than a dozen times since, sometimes accompanied by physiotherapists.
Now she is working tirelessly to progress an application to the Rotary Foundation for Global Grant towards the cost of an £80,000 scheme which will involve building 18 water pans, each holding 75,000 litres which can enable the communities to make the most of the scarce rainwater which falls onto the roofs of the schools.
That water will enable the communities to irrigate fields for subsistence and cash crops. Eventually, after maybe four or five years, the Friends of Kianjai Kenya will be able to stop sending annual donations of £9,000.
So far, 16 Rotary clubs in the east Midlands have committed to helping finance the big. About another £3,000 is needed.
In February, Caroline will be taking a small group of Rotarians to visit Meru and to meet the Rotary Club of Nithi which is the partner ‘on the ground’ in Kenya to ensure that the project is progressed properly and that funds are spent properly. Sarita Shah, a member of Leicester Novus, has family in Meru and is considering going on the 10-day trip.
President Pradeep Popat thanked Caroline for her talk and used the Swahili phrase Harambe Pamoja which translates as ‘Pulling Together’.