Feeding impoverished children from a shipping container has made such a difference to the Swaziland community.
This act of kindness has now developed into so much more through North West charity Partners in Education Swaziland.
The organisation was set up 18 years ago and, with the help of SOS Villages, Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland, Christadelphian Meal a Day and Rotary International, it has installed two care centres in Mbabane which provide a meal a day to children, as well as education.
Norman Yates, of Penwortham, trustee, and member of Preston South Rotary Club, says; “We are a small North West-based charity that runs two children’s homes in Swaziland.
“We are feeding 165 children each day – and sadly this is the only meal they would get.
“These youngsters are either street children or vulnerable youths who don’t have any parents. Instead, they are living with their grandparents, or aunts and uncles and living on the edge of the village.
“We bring these children to the centre to give them a meal and a bit of an education.
“The centres also enable basic medical assessment and welfare monitoring. The children are taught how to develop socially and given skills in gardening and craft applications.
“Our aim is to provide a safe and caring environment for the children and give them basic medical needs.
“This all started off with a team of Soroptimists going to Swaziland with the Red Cross charity and Lancashire County Council. They saw two ladies feeding street children under a tree and d ecided to do something.
“They got together with eight trustees and started to raise money.
“From there they funded a shipment container and then got money together for a building which was a base for education and offering meals.
“Worried there was an increasing number of vulnerable children requiring our services but whose needs were not being met, we opened a new care centre at the start of the year. This supports the community in neighbouring Malagwane and, in particular, feed about 50 vulnerable children.
“Members of the community help at the centre as volunteers, cooking meals and providing basic education to pre-school children. It is anticipated that in time the centre will become self-supporting, which will enable us to utilise our finances to help other needy children.
“My wife, Lynn, and I, as well as other trustees, come around twice a year to help out.”
The Partners in Education Swaziland Trustees raise money for the running of the Msunduza and Malagwane Care Centres by seeking donations and holding a variety of fund raisers and events in Lancashire.
Norman, 73, a former electrical engineer, adds: “Every penny we raise goes directly to the children. We don’t take any money for expenses. It all goes to the community and is spent on the children.
“These children are living in poverty. Swaziland has the worst rate of HIV/Aids in the world. As a result of this there are 120,000 orphans and 20,000 families led by children out of a population of 1.1 million.
“Often the meal we give them will be the only food the child receives each day.
“The menu usually consists of rice or porridge with vegetable soup, beans, peas and spinach or cabbage. This has made a huge difference in the lives of the children of Malagwane.
“My main focus is education, to help the country grow. As a result, the charity seeks out sponsors to provide the necessary money to pay school fees.
“Whilst at the centre, the children are helped with life problems and encouraged to develop their lives to become good citizens.
“I live in the UK and I consider myself very lucky as we have so much going for us, so I feel it is very important we give something back.”
For more information visit www.piescharity.org.uk/about.