Buy a brick to help build a school for children in Kenya

SOME or the poorest children in Kenya are about to get a smart new school - thanks to an Isleham couple who formed a charity that has raised thousands of pounds to build the new facility.

Mobile hairdresser Chris Mahoney and farmer John Quince fell in love with Kenya and its people during holidays in Africa, and earlier this year they helped form the BECKen charity - Better Education for Children in Kenya.

BECKen has just bought two acres of land in the market town of Ukunda near the Tanzanian border, and building work is due to start early next year.

Chris and John, who live at Lidgate Farm in Isleham, are off to Kenya in January, to start clearing the site in the bush, and digging a well.

Chris said: “We need the well because there is no running water, and we need water for the building work and for the builders to drink.

“The school will be built to British standards, and once the building is complete, we will install an electric pump in the well, so they have running water for the kitchen, toilets and a drinking fountain.”

Chris says the need for a new school is urgent. “When we first started going to Kenya we used to take books and pens, because they have nothing, no desks or chairs, just a teacher and a blackboard.

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“We sponsored a school, but we wanted to do something bigger, so we set about raising money to build a new school.”

BECKEn has raised �13,000 to buy the land, and needs another �60,000 to build the school that will eventually educate 300 children.

Chris said: “I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that we can start building; some children do not get the chance of education, but they want to learn. They are so grateful for anything they are given; it is very humbling.”

Money for the project has been raised from a variety of events, from cake stalls to car boot sales.

BECKen is holding a fund raising Christmas Fair at the farm on November 26, starting at 3.30pm; with lit Christmas trees, Santa in his grotto, and lots of stalls,

The charity is also holding a raffle to win a week’s holiday in Chris and John’s Kenyan home at Diani near the coast, including flights. Tickets cost �10. and the draw will be made at the Crown pub in Fordham on December 9. BECKen is also raising cash through a “Buy a Brick” scheme, bricks cost �1.

Clive Collins from Burwell has drawn up plans for the school, and the first phase of the building work will include two kindergarten classrooms, a kitchen and dining room.

“We will feed the children two meals a day,” explained Chris, “You can feed 50 children for a �1 a day. As the money becomes available we will build another block of four classrooms, and then four more. I want to stress that every penny we raise goes to the school.”

To get involved, or to make a donation or buy raffle tickets, phone 08990542872; e-mail; or look a the charity’s website at