CHARMOUTH youngster Jai Hayden will be cycling to and from school every day this week to raise funds and awareness for local charity, The Word Forest Organisation.
This is part of a school initiative set up by teacher James Rich of St Michael’s Primary School in Lyme Regis, to run an award scheme for children and it has the backing of the legendary explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes.
The scheme will challenge children to complete a series of activities including an expedition, a charity event for a charity of their choice, a week of sport, an eco-activity to help the local community and they will also need to present a talk to their fellow classmates.
Jai, aged 11, has chosen to cycle between his home inn Charmouth and school in Lyme Regis every day this week to support The Word Forest Organisation, a Lyme Regis-based charity that plants trees, builds classrooms and facilitates education in impoverished communities in Kenya.
During a recent meeting with charity CEO Tracey West, Jai was shocked to see the photos and videos from their recent monitoring and evaluation trip to visit their projects. He discovered some of the youngsters in their community walk five miles or more to simply get to school. They’ll frequently walk similar distances in temperatures nearing 30 degrees, to source water in containers that they carry home on their heads.
A good example lies in Kundeni Primary School, which has an enrolment of 610 students. It was the first school where Word Forest helped to construct solid stone classrooms, replacing unsafe mud huts. Up to 100 students sleep on the earth under the stars on the school compound, because it’s simply too far to walk home and they also stand a better chance of getting a meal in their day too; a recent donor kindly gifted Word Forest 13 mattresses, which sleep two children on each, but they need an additional 37 to give them all at least a modest level of comfort.
Tracey commented: “The trustees and I were blown away by Jai’s desire to make a positive difference to the lives of children his age in Kenya. This is a big physical challenge and his commitment to raising money and awareness, will undoubtedly win him the award and it’ll leave a legacy in Africa too.”
The money Jai raises will contribute to many amazing projects via the Word Forest; planting trees that help humans, wildlife, biodiversity and the wider world by mitigating the effects of climate change, buying a few building materials for the next classroom they build, probably at neighbouring Kadunguni Primary School and buy a few vital school supplies, as typically, the children Word Forest work with don’t get exercise books to write in until they reach year 6, aged 10/11 years old.
Jai is using a fundraising platform called Wonderful which ensures that 100 per cent of all money donated reaches the charity.
On the last day of Jai’s challenge, there will be a celebration in Charmouth with fundraising items available to buy from The Word Forest Organisation and a cake and homemade lemonade sale that he hopes will raise a few extra pounds.
To support Jai’s challenge, visit https://wonderful.org/fundraiser/jaiscycletoschoolchallenge-b44edbed