children imageThe Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is supporting a charity as it helps deliver desperately needed school uniforms to children in Africa.

More than 120 uniforms have been donated to Olkimitare Nursery School and Aitong Academy Primary School, which are on the Mara in Kenya. The Steam Packet Company paid for the uniforms to be delivered from the Isle of Man to London.

The uniform collection was organised by the Company’s Chief Accountant Sam Frize after St Mary’s School in Douglas changed its school uniform.

Sam, who has been visiting the school children in Kenya since 2004, said: “The children on the Mara have so little and have been in the same school uniform for two years. It’s a small community nursery, which isn’t funded by the state, so all provisions are through donations.

“The African Government charges the school a tax for importing items, even if marked as charitable donations, and as the school has very little money, it’s not always financially viable to send items by post as they may cost more in tax than they do to make or buy. We are extremely grateful to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for supporting this cause. These children have nothing and it is lovely that we have been able to help them in this way.”

Olkimitare Nursery School has two classrooms with about 35 children in each class.  The children walk up to 7km a day to attend and, as the school collects its water in rain buckets, they are encouraged to wash when they get there as it isn’t always possible at home.  Many live in traditional mud huts, have no electricity at home or at the school and cook with open fires or clay ovens. The younger children use slate and chalk to write their lessons as pens and paper are in extremely short supply.  Only the older children use paper, with every available space being used to write on.

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: “We are delighted to be able to support such a worthwhile cause. These children live in extremely poor conditions and it is wonderful we have been able to provide this support.”