Askari Aid 2010

Personnel from all three Services deploying with Joint Helicopter Force (Kenya) have been assisting in the renovation of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Education Centre (OLPHEC) orphanage and school near Nanyuki.

The personnel have been working hard, both in Kenya and in the UK, to raise funds to purchase materials for renovations, which are being completed in phases alongside the detachments.

Firstly, two of the seven classrooms in the Education Centre part of OLPHEC were renovated. The children study in dark classrooms exposed to the elements as there is no glass in the windows, yet amazingly excel in their studies. It took the team of JHF(K) volunteers around two days per classroom to complete the work, which included repairing and painting walls, flooring, wood and metal work and blackboards.

The children also assisted the personnel and learnt some DIY skills along the way. Children sitting their exams in November were the first to use the now bright and freshly painted classrooms.

A Puma helicopter from 33 Squadron also visited the school during their time on Exercise. Every child was given the opportunity to climb on board and see inside the aircraft that they frequently see flying overhead.

Father Raphael, who runs the OLPHEC orphanage, said the children would remember the day for the rest of their lives. Work does not stop there – personnel are continuing with the renovation of the remaining classrooms, as well as several other DIY projects, such as building doors and doorframes to the toilet block, installing fire bricks to re-insulate the oven, and welding metal frame bunk beds.

All the work is resourced solely through donated funds. All materials are purchased locally, thereby boosting the local economy, Crown Paints and Babcocks, have kindly donated paint to the teams to allow the limited funds to be directed to the other DIY projects. Personnel and dependants from RAF Benson have also donated many items such as clothing and toys for the children, and RAF Leeming have donated toiletries and stationery: items that are always needed by the organisation, which cares for children from just a few months old until they are adults.

The project has been a truly joint effort, with personnel of all trades and Services being involved, and the orphanage children keen to join in and help at every opportunity. With JHF(K) set to remain in the area for some time, its personnel continue to make a difference.

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