Pauline - Blog by Beverley Newman

Project Africa October 2013

We are 3 hours into the long drive south to Nairobi. Tonight we’ll all be on planes home to our comfortable lifestyles.

I left Ol Maisor yesterday in a reflective mood – really pleased with the progress this great team have made and already thinking about the specifics of our tasks out here next year.

I am very conscious that the blogs written about Project Africa tell similar stories and I don’t think they will change as being here is a very emotional journey and people need a way of making sense of what they experience and they want to share their feelings about that experience.

So was I sad to leave, you bet, but my mind was racing ahead with next steps for me to be too emotional at first.

Now I am sitting in the back of a Land Cruiser, being thrown around by the bumpy road, listening to Emelie Sande on my iPhone and my composure is less intact.

I want to share a story that has touched me very deeply, all of us out here very deeply. I realise that only a select number of people can actual be part of Project Africa, but maybe this story will help reinforce to everyone at William Hill that their contribution matters, really matters.

Here goes – on Tuesday a little girl called Pauline collapsed during the school assembly. One of her teachers rushed to pick her up and take her into one of the classrooms. We called Francesca, our nurse to see her. The poor little 9 year old was having trouble breathing and didn’t have the strength to stand up. She collapsed because she was starving.

She doesn’t have a father and her mother is mentally ill and has abandoned Pauline and her two younger sisters. They now live with their aging Grandfather who cannot afford to feed them.

Francesca treated Pauline with water and sugar and then after a while we gave her solid food and juice. She looked frightened and confused.

We asked one of the pupils to get her Grandfather to the school. I expected to give him a hard time – but what could I say. He had nothing. We gave him some money and pleaded with him to keep an eye on her and her sisters and to make sure they were fed.

At lunch time we called her over to join us and she enjoyed a meal of tuna and pasta. We packed up everything that was left and put it in her little ruck sack. We gave her a teddy and made a big fuss of her. It was when we opened the ruck sack though that the enormity and horror of the situation hit home. In the front flap she had the meal of beans the school cook had just dished out. Everyday she takes home the meal she is given at school for her little sisters. To see the beans in her grubby little bag was the saddest thing I have ever seen.

We have asked the fundi who we have come to know well to look out for her.

That’s why William Hill has Project Africa.

Beverley Newman