When Simon White first chatted to a friend about the charity he’d set up in memory of his late wife, he had no idea how it would impact on his life.
Simon, the managing director of Poole-based IT consultancy Enhanced, first offered to help find auction prizes for a fundraising ball for the Boo Charity.
However he quickly became more involved in the organisation, which supports children in Kenya, and has just returned from a trip to Africa to see firsthand the difference the charity is making.
Russell Hicks founded the charity in 2002 following the loss of his 36-year-old wife Sarah, affectionately nicknamed Boo, to cancer.
The couple had travelled to Kenya for alternative treatment, where Sarah was so touched by the compassion and love shown to her that her last wish was to help African children and adults who are disadvantaged through economic poverty.
Simon is now one of four trustees who cover the administration costs of the organisation so that every penny raised can go directly to help children in Kenya. He is currently working with the Boo on the 20/20 Challenge. Launched to mark the 20th birthday of Enhanced, the initiative sees 20 local companies, including Enhanced, tasked with raising £1,000 each for the charity.
Simon was keen to give the businesses an achievable figure, and said the money will be used to build new classrooms, fund teachers and help develop courses, including a basic computing course.
“Going there was amazing,” he said.
“You see how happy these kids are that have nothing, but you also see what can be done for a relatively small amount of money.
“We can say to people, this is what your £20,000 goes to. For me, I really like that idea.”
Simon visited a number of children’s homes, nurseries and schools during his trip, including the Boo-funded Nyamache Seed of Hope centre, to see for himself what life is really like for Kenyan children.
“One of the projects we went to look at was a slum in a suburb of Nairobi,” he said.
“It’s the biggest slum in Eastern Africa. For the kids that are born into that, their life is horrendous.
“We visited a guy who has set up a school, but also teaches the kids football. I was amazed by what he did in the middle of this slum. You see the goodness in people come out, even in those circumstances.”
Simon also met Rosebella, a former Seed of Hope student, who has now gone on to start up her own clothing business in Nairobi.
“One of the schools we look after, one of the graduates is going to be a representative at the Commonwealth Games in Africa,” he added.
“So there are some fantastic success stories.”
Boo is now supporting the baby unit at the local hospital, as well as working with a school which teaches life skills such as needlework and hairdressing to teenagers.
Simon is confident that the 20/20 initiative will not only help raise the profile of the Boo Charity, but gather more long-term supporters.
“It’s almost a bit of outreach to teach more people about what’s happened over there,” he explained.
“I’m hopeful we will pick up a few people that will stay on board with the charity long-term.
“I think it really is the start of something.”
- To find out more about the Boo Charity visit boo-charity.org.uk