Congratulations to Mary-Jane Butler who has been recognised in the Queens’ Birthday Honours List for her work in two villages in Western Kenya.
Mary-Jane Butler left Cornwall in 1996 and put her nursing and organisational skills to good use for the poorest people in Western Kenya. She aims to help people to help themselves. On returning to the UK after 10 years in Kenya, she established W.O.R.K. (a charity for Widows and Orphans in Rural Kenya) with a focus on education and healthcare. 13 years later, donations have paid the fees for over 500 orphans in school and college. Books and equipment have been provided, classrooms, dormitories, and hostels now provide a base for homeless orphans in the school holidays, particularly girls. Currently W.O.R.K. sponsors 111 orphans in schools and colleges.
W.O.R.K. supports two health centres providing for the original villages and for more distant rural communities.
This year W.O.R.K. completed the building of a new maternity ward and a female ward. Several ex-students have returned to help in various qualified roles. In addition, a large team of women from rural villages have been trained as first aid workers and basic mid-wives. These ladies are volunteers. This has been vital because the charity is also involved in outreach work to people who do not have the money or transport to get to a clinic. Access to clean water and a means of storing it makes a huge contribution to the health of a village, so numerous water tanks for the school and health centres have been provided.
W.O.R.K. has formed the widows into groups for protection and sustainability. Each widow is given an animal, often a goat or a sheep. They build up their own herd to provide income. Additionally W.O.R.K. makes available “Table Banks” for each group to provide loans to the widows, in order to set up a business or to buy seed or fertilizer to improve the harvest from their own land. The loan is repaid to the “Table Bank” and the funds available gradually increase.
Mary-Jane has personally managed all these projects during the 6 months she spends in Kenya each year. When in England she works tirelessly to raise the necessary funds. She acknowledges that these remarkable achievements owe much to the help and support of the Trustees and the many supporters in Barnstaple, Kingsbridge, Exeter, Somerset, Wiltshire and elsewhere. Many donate by standing order or by sponsoring students. Others have joined the 100 club. More information is on the website at www.work-kenya.org – All supporters are delighted that she has been recognised for her valuable work.