Sue's Story so far
I am Sue Hayward; founder of this charity. In January 2000, my husband Dave and I visited a school in Watamu; a small coastal village in Kenya, East Africa.
What we saw there were children sitting on cold stone floors in old broken buildings, counting with stones.
We couldn’t believe that this was the year 2000, and children here were being educated in these conditions.
Teachers had the nigh impossible task of trying to teach without pencils, paper or books. Desks and chairs were also a main priority.
We travelled about 25 miles to the nearest town to purchase exercise books paper pencils, and other items just to make a teacher's job possible.
We came home on fire! We could not leave things as they were; we just had to ' Make a Difference ' I believed then, as I do now, that education is the only road out of poverty for so many.
We couldn’t get these children out of my head and started raising money with a bottle on the bar of our hotel.
We went back a year later and were able 36 desks and chairs made for 36 of the 130 children then attending the school and took with us many educational supplies.
In July 2003, I established Children of Watamu as a registered charity. Trustees were appointed and we were well and truly on our way.
By the end of 2003 each of the 130 children had a desk and chair; we even had 20 extras for additional recruits! We did not have to wait long. To cater for the additional children new classrooms were built and many of the old ones refurbished.
From the outset, one of our great aims was to open a library. If children can read children can learn. Thanks to the support of so many we stocked it with 50,000 books.
A follow-on ambition was to provide a computer room and this was also been achieved.
By December 2007, there were 700 children in full time education. The school, which belonged to a local church, was ready to be self-supporting.
We had a greater problem to address – providing a family home for children who were orphaned, abandoned, abused , neglected or suffering a result of family tragedy or dire poverty.
This was going to be our Happy House.
Now in 2020 , Dave and are Mama and Papa to 60 lovely children living in our care – although this number has been as high as 112!
Our family has its ups and its downs, it is just like any other family - only bigger!
The Happy House had been a vision of mine for a long time, so when we opened the doors in February 2010 to the first children, it really was a dream come true.
We desperately needed a place where children can live happily in safety, where they can grow and just be children.
A place where they can go to sleep in a bed and wake up to a breakfast.
Some people call children's homes orphanages, but to me that conjures up pictures from a Charles Dickens novel, where cold, dirty frightened children live in fear, huddled together.
We never wanted this, ours is a real home for our children. If you stand outside you can hear laughter and singing, when you come inside you see happy healthy smiling faces.
Watamu and the surrounding areas a number of orphans, due to Aids, Malaria and many other diseases that local people have to contend with on a day to day basis. Some children are abandoned. Brothers and sisters try and care for each other, some are not much older than the children they are caring for.
If a child anywhere in the more developed world goes missing it is headline news
Here it’s a shrug of the shoulders and “Well it was an orphan”
We desperately wanted a place where children can be safe and happy, where they can be loved and cared for, this we have achieved with our Happy House,
By February 2011, we had 50 children living with us.
They come to us through the care system and are entrusted to us through the courts.
The Happy House thrives with caring, supportive staff and the backing of its sponsors, volunteers and trustees.
Without it, some of these children would be destitute, searching scraps to eat in the bush and sleeping rough. They would have no home, no medicines and no education, no future and the great possibility of not surviving at all.
We have built the Happy House with the help of so many and have now added our schools
We have to continue to maintain both to the highest level and need YOUR help to do this.
Your can by fundraising – holding an event or setting yourself a personal, sponsored challenge and by telling your friends about us.
There are so many ways that you can Make a Difference.
The main one is by sponsoring one of our children Please set up a monthly standing order £20 it will help us to make ends meet every month.
There are so many children who need our help and this we will provide to as many as we can.
A Kenyan friend of mine once said to me "Sue, help where you can and feel sorry where you can't.”
I don’t ever want to feel sorry.
Thank you for visiting this page from Sue Hayward & The Happy House Family