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Market Deeping couple's charity built classrooms and fed families in Kenya during pandemic

A couple who returned from Kenya on the day that country’s first coronavirus case was confirmed are delighted their charity work has continued during the pandemic.

Geoff and Rita Fowler set up The Mustard Seed Project in 2009 to support disadvantaged families in Africa.

What started as a small scheme to provide educational resources led to them opening a school in 2009.

Geoff and Rita Fowler
Geoff and Rita Fowler

By 2013 it had grown to 250 pupils and last February the couple travelled to Mombasa to prepare for the next phase of the build.

As they flew home, the country went into lockdown but thanks to strict curfews, life returned to normal six months later and builders ploughed ahead with eight new classrooms and a hall.

The school reopened to pupils last month.

The Mustard Seed project built new classrooms and a hall at a school in Kenya during lockdown
The Mustard Seed project built new classrooms and a hall at a school in Kenya during lockdown

Rita, a retired teacher, said: “Covid was a catastrophe but it did mean that the builders could get on with work in the school. We are so excited but disappointed that we cannot go out to Kenya to see it.”

The couple normally travel to Africa twice a year – once in February and again in November.

Although the pandemic put a stop to their visits, they have been working hard behind the scenes from their home in Market Deeping.

Geoff, of Thackers Way, was tasked with raising money to feed 50 families who would otherwise have gone hungry during the coronavirus crisis.

He said: “Lockdown was a nightmare because most of these families don’t have proper jobs, they just do whatever they can to make money.

“We didn’t have a budget to help feed them so we had to do whatever we could to find the money.”

The charity has a number of regular supporters and is also backed by England and Borussia Dortmund footballer Jude Bellingham who has raised the profile of the project.

Geoff and Rita, who are both in their 70s, must now wait until the coronavirus restrictions are lifted before they can return to see the new classrooms in use.

To support the project visit: mustardseedproject.co.uk

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