In this touching story, a holidaymaker who was injured while visiting a Kenyan village has raised more than £1million for the local people who helped her.
The woman identified as Linda Greenland, 61, was knocked unconscious when she was hit by a falling tree branch in Timbwani, near Mombasa. However, she was shocked to wake up in the hospital to find local children had left scraps of paper wishing her well and kindly villagers visited her for the next three weeks.
During that time she formed such close bond with locals that she decided to dedicate her life to helping the village escape poverty to reciprocate the kind love and gesture.
Touched and looking for a way to pay them back, the librarian came home and founded the Maji Safi charity and has since raised £1.2 million – building two schools and two nurseries.
Linda, who caught malaria during her Kenyan hospital stay, said: “I had plenty of time to think, and it made me realise that this was happening for a reason and I could help these people.
“In Kenya if you don’t work you don’t eat, and that kept going over and over in my mind in hospital.
“We’ve just tried to visit the community in Kenya a couple of times each year – we always pay for our own travel costs.
“Then we would come back to Britain and give talks to groups and churches about our experiences and how we were trying to help by building classrooms, funding teaching posts and generally working hard to try to improve the education of these kids.”
The money she raised made it possible for the children in the community to go to school
It was also gathered that Linda first visited the tiny village with her husband Mike Radford in 1997 after nearly booking a trip to Spain instead.
She explained: “We never went abroad, but really needed a break. We even considered Benidorm for a while. That would have made the last 17 years a bit different.”
Speaking about her fundraising campaign, she said: “I was sitting outside the hotel…suddenly I was hit on the head by a palm branch, knocking me unconscious.
“When I came out they kept telling me God was in the tree and threw the branch just hard enough to make me stay long enough to see what was needed – the construction of two schools for 900 kids.”
Since then the couple’s charity has provided an education to 900 children that wouldn’t have received lessons otherwise.
The village now has doctors, solicitors and teachers working there after the kids she helped went on to attend university.
She also opened an orphanage for the people
But Linda, of Whitchurch, Bristol, fears for the future of her charity following the UK recession.
Last year she raised only £50,000 compared with £120,000 in previous years.
Linda said: “There has been a shift in recent years – a sort of ‘charity begins at home’ mentality that wasn’t there a few years ago, and that’s really troubling for me.
“I think people have tired of Africa and their focus has shifted closer to home.
“More troubling still is that there has also been a noticeable backlash against giving money to Muslim communities in Africa – a very blinkered idea that all Muslims are potential terrorists.
“Knowing these people and knowing that they are the loveliest people you could ever imagine, this attitude is horrifying.”