Montrosians to build brighter future for families in Kenya

Darren with youngster Vincent in Kenya last year
Darren with youngster Vincent in Kenya last year

Two kind-hearted Montrose men will be travelling to Africa in October to build houses for impoverished families.

Darren Cocker and Paul McDonald will be heading to Kenya on October 7 to help charity Gathimba Edwards Foundation lay the foundations for a brighter future for the Kenyan people.

Darren Cocker and Paul McDonald

Darren Cocker and Paul McDonald

They will join more volunteers in Africa to build five new homes in nine days for families in Iten, a town in Elgeyo-Marakwet County of Kenya. The families have 25 children between them and are currently living in mud houses.

Darren, acting site manager at Stewart Milne Homes in Aberdeen, went out to Kenya last year through work to help build a dormitory for 16 boys at the Pavilion Village Children’s Home in Karatina.

He was one of 51 volunteers of all ages and walks of life, from shop assistants to directors, with the youngest being 13 and the eldest 58.

This year, he will be joined by friend Paul, who works for Aberdeen City Council as a senior maintenance controller. Darren, who is originally from Aberchirder, in Aberdeenshire, moved to Montrose about 18 months ago, and Paul, from Turiff, moved to the town in January.

Volunteers and children stand outside the completed dorm in 2015

Volunteers and children stand outside the completed dorm in 2015

Darren said: “Gathimba Edwards Foundation contacted me again this year as they needed more volunteers with building experience.

“I asked some friends if any of them would be interested in going and Paul said he’d love to go and help. He’s eager to get out there and experience it. He’s enthusiastic, which is what we need.

“I just want to get stuck in when I’m there. Building five houses in nine days is going to be hard going.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back out there. I was always one for believing charity began at home but last year I had the opportunity to go out to Africa through work and it changed my mind.

Darren and Vincent

Darren and Vincent

“When you see how they live out there it puts things into perspective. I have two kids, aged two and seven, and I saw kids roughly the same age in Kenya and all they had was an old tyre to play with compared to the children over here who have iPads and Xboxes.

“I’m hoping when we’re out there I can go back to where I was last year. To be able to go back and see what they have been doing and how they are getting on will be humbling.”

The trip is from October 8 to 21 and Darren says after the nine-day build he and Paul will be visiting local families to see if they can do “a little bit more” to help them.

Darren added Gathimba Edwards Foundation is still looking for volunteers to help with the project and needs people with building experience, especially joiners, as only three carpenters have signed up so far.

Darren is raising money towards the estimated £15,000 for the building costs of the houses.

He will be running 10k in the Great Scottish Run on October 2 in Glasgow and you can guess his running time in the Picturehouse bar.

The Black Abbot and Market Arms also have lucky squares to raise money towards the build. The prizes have been donated by Lock and Roll, a local family-run locksmith business.

Donations can also be made via www.totalgiving.co.uk/charity/gathimba-edwards-foundation.

Gathimba Edwards Foundation plans on organising projects every October and is calling for people to get involved. For more information visit gathimbaedwardsfoundation.org