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Heartwarming outcome of bitter fight over Kenley primary

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IN THE fight to prevent Roke Primary becoming a Harris Academy, one of the first battles the parents lost was to preserve their uniform.

However, out of this most bitter of disputes has come a development everyone is pleased with.

This summer, parents received a letter telling them the school's leftover stock had been sent to the charity Harambee for Kenya, which looks after destitute children in the slums of Nakuru.

Debbie Shaw, a parent of two at Harris, read the letter and realised every parent could donate their children's uniform to the charity.

She said: "I asked everyone and put it all over Facebook. I had the most amazing response and eventually the boot of my car was stuffed full of 30 bags of uniform.

"I spoke to the charity and they took everything over in October. They started the school for parents who could not afford to buy their children school uniforms.

"The kids had bits and pieces before but now every single child, around 240, have the same Roke uniform.

"It's so lovely, we're all very emotional. It's like Roke lives on in Kenya."

Lesley Dann, who set up the charity with her husband Roger in 2007, said they looked after hundreds of street children in Kenya.

Many are orphaned by Aids or have only one parent who cannot care for them, and are forced into begging or scavenging on rubbish tips.

"It has made a huge difference," said Mrs Dann.

"The children struggle to have an identity and are treated so badly by people.

"Having the whole school in the same uniform is really important. When we went over there, they were absolutely overjoyed, it was really sweet. There is now a real sense of belonging."

Mrs Shaw said parents of the old Roke had been very emotional about the news the uniform had reached Kenya.

"A lot of them have said it has made them cry or brought a big lump to their throat," she said.

"We fought really hard for our kids' education last year, but it makes you think that these parents have had to fight for their children to go to school full stop.

"But there is this sense of solidarity, that we all fight our battles, but for different things.

"Morale has been a bit low this year and we're hoping things will settle down but this has been a real boost to the spirits."

To find out more about the work of Harambee for Kenya, visit harambeeforkenya.org

Heartwarming outcome of bitter fight over Kenley primary


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