humour and sobriety: a sponsored spray-tan and an incredible project supporting women in Sierra Leone

There is so much need in the world. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by it? I watched Children in Need on Friday and I was talking to a friend about what a bizarre viewing experience it actually is, when you think about it. You go from weeping intensely to someone’s story of pain and loss, to laughing, as the cast of Eastenders attempts a musical number, or Mel and Sue do a comedy sketch with Eddie Redmayne (I’m not sure the former was supposed to be funny).

I saw someone tweet a suggestion that instead of watching celebs prance about, we watch a six-hour debate by MPs on child poverty. Ok, sure, I get the point and I do have qualms myself regarding the whole celeb involvement – often it ends up being about them more than anything else. But, there’s only so much seriousness and sadness one can cope with.

Yes, we can close ourselves off too much from the plight of others. But I think it’s a real gift that we don’t take all the pain of the world on our shoulders. Laughter is a gift that we can and should enjoy through all seasons of life (though respectful selection of appropriate moments should be factored in, of course).

My Dad saw a need in our town over 16 years ago. Unaccompanied asylum seeking children were landing in Gatwick with nowhere to go. They had witnessed atrocities, lost their parents, had no English or basic knowledge about our country, and they needed people to care for them. This is a relevant issue right now for our country when faced with the refugees coming in from Syria and other nations experiencing civil wars. How will we react?

Dad set up a charity, asphaleia action. It has grown into both a charity and organisation under the umbrella of asphaleia that provides services for disadvantaged children and young people in West Sussex, London and Kent. They provide ESOL as well as English and Maths to young people who haven’t achieved their GCSE’s for whatever reason. Plus a number of other courses. They provide care homes and support workers. They provide mental health support, sex trafficking prevention work, and also run a fostering agency. Alongside all that, there is a consultancy that assists other charities in gaining funding and working effectively.

I was always amazed by my Dad’s good humour and ability to embrace the good in life when his work centred around facing up to the darkness some children and young people are immersed in, most often not of their own doing, and trying to help. The stories he must have heard on a daily basis, year after year, would have been heart-wrenching.

The meaningful and good-humour, in tandem, appeals to our human nature in a special way so I want to tell you about a fundraising event that encapsulates this completely.

keiran

This is Kieran and he is doing a rather unique fundraiser – a sponsored spray-tan – to raise money for a specific project that asphaleia action supports from across the world. The more money raised will result in further intensification of the tangerine tint. I asked Kieran some questions about it…

What is the story behind the Kabor Project?

In 2005, a lady from Sierra Leone called Zainab, a house parent for asphaleia in Worthing, approached Dave Cottrell with an idea about returning to her home country to help her own people.  Dave and Zainab had several conversations and set about making this happen. In 2015, The Kabor Project was born. Kabor means “welcome” in Krio. Young girls that were sexually assaulted during the war and taken as bush wives can learn new skills such as catering, sewing, bread-making and gain advice and knowledge of health care issues such as HIV and malaria prevention. The project has shifted to support as many people as possible, now helping survivors of the ebola epidemic and their families.

kabor-women-learning-new-skills

The Kabor Project focuses on promoting self-sustainability so instead of just giving money we aim to empower the beneficiaries with skills to sustain their way of life.

How is the project going?

Kabor has faced many challenges over the years ranging from the ebola outbreak, deaths of beneficiaries, trying to prevent risk of exploitation, and needing basic resources such as chairs to sit on. The Kabor Project work with approximately 60 beneficiaries a year looking at the emotional, physical, as well as vocational skills training needs of underprivileged young women and girls.

Why is the project so important to the people in Freetown, Sierra Leone? 

The city of Freetown is split into two halves; east and west. Freetown is extremely over-populated, poor, and under-developed, leading to very little food and water. The civil war that ended in 2002 killed over 50,00 people and maimed thousands more. The war also had a drastic effect on the city’s production, decimating their agricultural production and destroying many schools leading to the literacy rate now being a mere 20%.

kabor-creche-eating

Progress has been dramatically stifled meaning unemployment is over 70%, which has led to most young people living a life of begging on the streets and life expectancy only being 34 years old.

How is the project generally funded? 

By donations and the funds asphaleia action raise. The staff in Sierra Leone recently put on a fundraiser too.

sam_1570

What exactly are you doing to raise money?

As well as the spray tan, in November the young people in Worthing who are Kabor Champions are doing a sponsored walk and in December there will be a Santa Dash where we will collect items for Kabor. In September, an asphaleia staff member did a 10K run and raised over £600, which was sent to Kabor to help them with their new building. I am hoping with my sponsored spray tan we can add to that amount.

Is there anything specific that they need at the moment?

Recently Kabor were donated a safer building to work from in Masiaka Town, which has no electricity! asphaleia action are working hard to fund a generator to enable Kabor to have power to continue their work. As well as this, Kabor are having to renew their registration documents to allow them to remain in business and do this vital work. In total, Kabor needs £1200 presently.

***

It’s incredible what Zainab has achieved with the resources they have received.

Keiran’s spray tan takes place on the 2nd of December, please donate here. A small contribution makes a big difference to the Kabor Project and increases its incredible and vital impact.

Thank you for taking the time to read and if you donate, a HUGE thank you.

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