Warwickshire Christian bringing water to deaf children in Kenya

Martin Mackenzie, from Leamington Spa, has always had a concern for the world's poor and a heart to do something to help alleviate their plight.

He recently travelled long hours across harsh terrain to reach the remote and impoverished village of Ogongo, home to 65 deaf children - half of whom are Aids orphans.

For one week in June, Martin worked with the children through
the charity Siloam Christian Ministries by distributing mosquito nets that will help protect them against malaria.

In Ogongo, Siloam is taking care of the deaf children by supporting the Lambwe Christian School for the Deaf.

Last year, Martin did voluntary fundraising for the school, which allowed it to have electricity for the first time.

The electricity means that the school can have lighting after nightfall - essential for the children to be able to communicate to each other through sign language.

"Deaf children can’t 'talk' in the dark but with light they can 'chat' in the evenings!" said Martin.

Now Martin has already set his sights on obtaining clean water for children and staff at Lambwe, and is in the process of raising £20,000 to drill a bore hole.

"I feel very strongly about this project because the students have so little," said Martin Mackenzie. "They still lack daily essentials like water. Often the children have to walk three kilometres, carrying full containers. That’s unacceptable in the 21st century."

The June trip was an opportunity for Martin and Jan to assess the progress on the hole so far. A 10,000 litre water tank has already been purchased and the next phase will be to purchase two more tanks and install proper sanitation facilities.

"Now these children at risk have a safe haven at Lambwe Christian School for the Deaf," says Siloam Director Richard Norton. "This residential school transforms lives and helps change attitudes to exclusion on the basis of disability."

Securing a good future for the children is at the heart of Lambwe. As a qualified secondary school teacher, the school's principal Margaret Odhiambo knows she could earn more money working in another school.

Yet she says: "These children have had such a poor start in life. It is my aim to give them the best possible chance to flourish and succeed and to make the school available to the hundreds more in the Lambwe Valley area who need special education."

Teacher Bernard Omollu, who is partially blind, also feels called to serve the children.

"I have been so blessed in my life that I have to give something back," he says.

Back in the UK, Martin will travel extensively across south Warwickshire to tell people about the school and generate support for the bore hole.