A first-hand look at the difference players’ support makes
Earlier this year People’s Postcode Lottery’s Head of Data Services, Chris Hadden, had the opportunity to join a small team visiting the work of player-supported charities in Nairobi, Kenya. This included spending a day visiting schools and libraries where we supply books via our partner Kenya National Library Service.
We caught up with Chris to find out more about the trip and the difference players’ support is making for young readers in Kenya.
How did you feel about going to see some of the players’ supported charity work in action?
In a word, honoured. Before I joined the team at People’s Postcode Lottery, I actually spent most of my career working all over the African continent. Working in Africa for so long in a corporate capacity meant that I never really got the opportunity to find out what amazing work charities do in places like Kenya. It was a real privilege to see what incredible work our supported charities do and what great relationships they have with the local communities they are part of.
What expectations did you have before you arrived?
Well this is rather embarrassing really! I went in with quite foggy expectations. I mean, what real difference could Book Aid International make by just providing schools and libraries with books donated from supporters of the charity? Oh boy was I wrong!
They took us to a Kenya National Library Service library in the heart of Kibera, one of Nairobi’s slums. This was no ordinary library! It is the only purpose-built structure in the entire slum area, which spans as far as the eye can see. It is the central hub that children from across the slum visit to get respite from their normal lives, often coming in for a quick sleep before school starts. The walls are covered in the children’s drawings based on books they’ve read. We met Mary who ran the library; she is an inspiration. She is like a mother to the hundreds of kids who come tearing up the stairs as soon as their schools tell them it is library time!
What was your highlight from the trip?
I can’t pin this down to one highlight, sorry! During one of the school visits after the library, I was greeted by the children like I’ve never been greeted before. Each of the 300 kids gave me a high five or fist pump as I was entering their school. I felt so welcomed by them all. It was such a warm feeling.
We were also given the opportunity to teach one of the lessons to the kids at the library, which one of my colleagues had the pleasure of doing. The kids were so engaged with him – it was obvious they were all eager to learn. What an absolute joy to watch and be part of!
The entire visit was just full of so many highlights and memories I’ll never forget. I would just love to go back and visit the schools and libraries again one day.
What difference do you think players’ support of our work is making in the lives of the children you met?
At the end of the day, players are giving these children access to books. Books are something we take incredibly for granted. The overwhelming joy that books give to every one of the children I met was nothing short of astounding. All they want is to learn and to share what they’ve learned with their friends.
Without books, I truly think these children would struggle to cope. Life for them is hard, the hardest I’ve ever seen and I have travelled all over the continent. The escapism that books provide them is priceless.
Since the trip, I’ve been so excited to use my experiences to tell players just how much their contributions mean to the charities and local communities we work with.
Please take me back with you soon. I miss those guys!
We would like to say a huge thank you to players of Postcode Lottery for their ongoing support.