Blogs So good to be back Whenever you return somewhere you love, and it has been a long time since you visited, you experience excitement and maybe a little anxiety. However, I didn’t realise just how much I would love being back in Mikindani and visiting the EdUKaid team. 10 years on I was very lucky to be involved with EdUKaid from its onset, I attended the opening of Mottisfont House which then housed our volunteers upstairs and offices downstairs. To be back in EdUKaid’s 19th year and 10 years since I was last there was such a privilege. At EdUKaid House, just a few buildings up from Mottisfont (also known as the Community Centre), we stayed among the villagers, some of which remembered me which was lovely. With Teresa’s help, I learned a few more phrases than the five useful words I had remembered. It was lovely being able to communicate with everyone even in such a small way. The Village itself had changed over the years, many of the buildings were the same and many of the residents, but there is more trade, more places to purchase everyday items and a pharmacy. These are in no way compared to our shops, they are small huts, with limited items, but none the less there are more of them. More people seem to be riding motorbikes, and the chickens were a little bit fatter and many goats were tethered around the village. There even seems to be more electric linked to the houses/huts though most still have no running water. Wonderful school visits Visiting our first school Singino, (one of the first schools we supported many years ago) we were greeted by the hum of assembly. Nothing like a school in the UK, the children are lined up backs to the Indian Ocean two of the girls leading the rest of the school in song. It was just a beautiful start to our trip! And a few tears We visited many schools over our trip, some supported by EdUKaid some not, but all needing either assistance with refurbishing or helping with classrooms. We met lots of lovely children, some of them having had such a hard start in life. One girl, Husna, was bent over nearly touching the ground, she walks 2.5 km to and from school each day. On wet days she has to stay home. It was so sad; I couldn’t cope with my own emotion at the sadness of her situation so had to walk away hoping she wouldn’t see me crying. Luckily EdUKaid and the fundraising Bethan raised for her birthday while we were there covered the cost of a wheelchair, meaning Husna will always be able to get to school, whatever the weather. Gender inclusion sessions We saw first-hand Bintially and her team giving talks/singing sessions and the making of reusable pads for the girls who previously would be off school if they had their period. There was nowhere to change and clean up, EdUKaid are now providing essential washing stations for the girls. They are now in school no matter the circumstance. Not only is she educating them to say ‘no’ and educating them that it is their bodies to do as they wish, but also educating boys that they need to respect the girls. I am sure this will have a profound impact on their communities in time. We were treated to a girls’ football match, the first of its kind. It was very tense waiting for the penalties, with both schools present and very much rapturous in their support. Rahaleo Deaf Class We visited Rahaleo which has a class for deaf children. Here Bethan gave them a TV which is essential to their teaching, the previous one had been stolen. Mustafa who was the inspiration for the Mustafa Fund to support this class was there, now helping teach the children sign language. I spent some time with him learning basics and then some of the children enjoyed pointing to pictures around the room and showing me how to sign them. Inspired to raise money A visit to Shangani and the classroom for children with learning difficulties, here they are all ages and with different levels of disability. They were sitting on the floor eating their lunch as the desks are slanted and not suitable. Here we had much love and hugs and even a little stroking of the hair. I could not come away and not be moved by my experiences, this is just a few of them, I have since being home set up a fund to help these children. So far, I have raised £625 which is incredible. If you feel moved to join me, please donate here. Can't wait to come back The EdUKaid team are doing amazing work making a real difference every day! I was so proud to see old faces and meet new, to spend time hearing about their successes and also the challenges they face. They work together and are very much a family, and we were very much part of this special family. I can’t wait to go back; I won’t be leaving it so long next time. Huge thanks to Teresa, Bethan, Ally Simba, Bintially, Emmanuel, Zainabu, Naomi, Mohamed, Ally Muksini and Mr Fidelis.