A crowd-funding project to help provide shelter for young footballers in Sierra Leone is close to reaching its target.
Alan Wolstencroft from Banbury Rotary in Oxfordshire has been working with children in the West African country for 14 years through the charity, ‘Alan’s Africa’.
He recently visited Sierra Leone where he was introduced to the Mahera Wharf football community, who played with very little kit.
So Alan arranged through Oxford United Football Club to send kit from the Football League club to children in the community.
“During my trip in April this year, I was taken to a dwelling where a number of the boys, some of them orphans, are staying,” explained Alan.
Alan continued: “I was totally taken aback by the poor living conditions that I witnessed.
“Several of the boys sleep on mats on the floor, similar to a raffia beach mat, and in one room three boys were sharing a bed with a mattress that was totally unsuitable. But it was all they had.
“Three of the rooms were not being used as the very old and rusty corrugated tin roof was leaking badly, making them uninhabitable.
“It was obvious that the roof needed replacing but with ongoing commitments to other projects I was not sure how long it would take me to undertake this.”
Several of the boys sleep on mats on the floor, similar to a raffia beach mat, and in one room three boys were sharing a bed with a mattress that was totally unsuitable.”
Alan said he was contacted by a woman, whose son is part of the Oxford United Academy, who had heard about the Mahera Wharf boys. After discussions, she set up a crowdfunding page to try and raise £500 to help towards supporting the boys.
So far, £402 has been raised, and the priority is to replace the roof since the rainy season is about to start. Alan has forwarded funds so that the new roof could be fitted in time.
“This is a great step forward for the boys as all the rooms will now be able to be used,” added Alan. “They will not have to live in such cramped conditions.
“We have initially purchased two mattresses and more will follow.
“Other funding will provide match refreshments, transport costs, football boots and pay school fees for some of the orphaned team players.”