THE message of new life at Easter was brought home to a homeless Kenyan family after Linlithgow volunteers rallied to their plight.
Local youngsters Lauren White (18), Callum Henry (18) and Connor Small (20) have worked at the Badilisha Maisha centre in Kilifi, Kenya, over the last six months and have just returned to Scotland. But in their last week there they stumbled across a destitute family living on a bed under a tree.
Callum Henry (18) of Preston Court, said: “It was really shocking. There were five of them sharing a bed - the two girls, their mum and two other baby siblings.”
But with only one week and no extra money at the centre, the youngsters desperately appealed for £650 from friends and relations to build the family a mud hut before the rains come.
Despite their scant resources, the youngsters were able to pull the money together through email and Facebook.
Callum added: “The youngest girl, Lillian, was the saddest young girl at the centre but when we told her she had a new house, she was the happiest.”
The centre was set up by another local resident, Debbie Matthew (45) over two years ago.
She said: “At the centre, we support vulnerable children by giving them access to food and education. As part of the social care programme, we do home visits but the week before the volunteers left, they found two of the children we help - Bahati and Lillian - with their family living under a mango tree.
‘’The girls had come to school every day but never said they were in any trouble.
‘‘The volunteers were shocked as the family were sleeping in the open and it wasn’t safe.
‘‘The young people were due to go home to their own houses and beds and it really touched them.”
Debbie (45) added: “A lot of street kids have never got into the school system and they become homeless, forced to beg, and in things like child prostitution.”
Debbie is back in Linlithgow and looking for a teaching job to boost funds. She hopes to relocate the centre from its current rented location to bought land and aims to promote their feeding programme.
Badilisha Maisha means ‘‘change a life’’ in Swahili).