On Sunday, Bishop Nick will help St Peter’s Gildersome celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Funzi & Bodo Trust – a charity (set up by a couple from the church) which runs medical clinics and has built schools in Kenya.
22 years ago Ashley & Sara Peatfield (right) visited the beautiful Funzi Island, but were shocked by the poverty of the local people. Several years later they returned with funds to rebuild the disused medical clinic and employ a nurse. Since then the charity has grown and grown. This month it will open a physiotherapy centre for disabled children, a birthing room and a chicken farm providing eggs for malnourished children.
And in the past 10 years, The Funzi & Bodo Trust has built two clinics, two schools, two libraries, two birthing rooms, a computer training centre and built giant tanks for clean water. This week it has just received a grant to provide the first proper toilets in the village of Funzi .
Keeping the charity going means non-stop fund raising, so Ashley and Sara spend their weekends baking 250 cakes to sell at St Peter’s after the morning service .
Ashley (who is Editor of the religious output on BBC local radio stations), says, “Raising funds is a constant challenge as we are all volunteers and have no paid staff in the UK - that ensures we get the money to where it's intended. We do have 11 local employees and we've been able to help kick start 13 small businesses run by women’s groups using small loans. These range from sea weed farming to a wood cutting business.
“The Trust has done really well, but it faces pressure because of the collapse of tourism which has put many people out of business. They rely on us for health care. This year we saved the life of a small boy needing a heart operation - his Dad had lost his job as a waiter and couldn’t raise the funds needed to save his son's life.
“So Sunday's service is a time for celebration. St Peter's congregation is very engaged with the charity and they hold many fundraising events from collecting and selling clothing to putting on big concerts. On 11 March, for example, there'll be a big comedy night at the church.”
Vicar of St Peter’s, Canon Felicity Lawson, says, “It’s a stunning story of one couple responding to human need and the fantastic fruit that’s come from that: along with the clinics and schools they’ve set up a birthing room and bought a boat for medical emergencies.”
The charity has also been endorsed by former Blue Peter and Songs of Praise presenter Diane Louise Jordan. She says, “The Funzi and Bodo Trust baby clinic is doing an amazing job by offering medical care and educational opportunities - which will give children the chance of a better future."
The service takes place on Sunday 19 February at 10am at St Peter’s, Gildersome (LS27 7AF) and will be followed by a shared meal.
If you’d like to support the Funzi & Bodo Trust, go to www.funzi.org.uk or contact Ashley Peatfield, 0113 2526513, who is also happy to talk to church groups.