Mental health campaigner from Potton helps build brighter future for children in Kenya

A mental health campaigner from Potton has returned from his seventh trip in Kenya – where he helped build a better future for children.

Thursday, 16th June 2022, 3:43 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 11:56 am
Luke Newman during his visit to Kenya
Luke Newman during his visit to Kenya

Luke Newman, 41, has visited Nakuru, 85 miles north of the capital city, Nairobi, six times previously – but was forced to put a pause on visits due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now, he has returned from his first visit since 2019, where he headed to the West End Academy in the Rhonda slums along with other volunteers from Derby County Community Trust, including dad Steve, from Gamlingay, brother Paul, formerly of Sandy, and nephews Max and Fynn.

In two weeks, the team was able to help dismantle an old kitchen and design and construct a new one to help with the feeding programme at the school. For some children, the meal they have at the school is the only one they will have that day.

They were also able to build a playground and help start construction work on a new classroom.

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Luke is the founder of ‘For Men To Talk’, which gives men with mental health illnesses, such as anxiety, grief or depression a chance to talk with fellow sufferers. Last year he designed, wrote and self-published a book titled ‘The Mental Health Moles’.

He said: “During a break, I took the eldest class and talked to them about the importance of talking to family, friends or teachers about how they are feeling, especially if they were feeling low. They all shared copies of my book and together they read a few of the chapters out loud. It was a beautiful and humbling moment. From the feedback I had from the children later that day they got a lot from the book and discussion.”

The team also visited the homes of some of the school children and witnessed the tough conditions they live in – such as having no electricity and no clean water.

Luke added: “Many children, some under the age of five, walk for over an hour to the school everyday to get a good education. Many of them have five or six people living in an 8-foot by 8-foot mud hut, with a single bed.”

Luke has written a day-to-day blog on his trip which can be read on the ‘For Men To Talk’ website.