From Volunteer To Trustee – Sue’s Story
Over on our Facebook page, we have been posting about ‘Sue’s Story’ and how Sue Russell went from sponsoring a child, to volunteer to charity secretary! Sue’s story is truly inspiring, and we hope it may convince you to consider becoming a charity trustee yourself.
Back in 2004, my stepdaughter, Lou worked for Thames Valley Police dealing with teenagers who had ASBOs. Working in the same office as Nancy (Nasio’s CEO) they were discussing how they could maintain order with the teenagers when Nancy suggested that Lou get the group to fundraise a trip to Kenya, where they could dig the foundations for the first Nasio School.
Excitedly Lou came round one Saturday afternoon to show her Dad, Rob and I a video from the Noah’s Ark roadside school. Sadly, by the next morning, Rob had died from a stroke. This event was to change the course of my life!
Our first donation to Nasio was from my husband Rob’s wake
Our first donation to Nasio was from my husband Rob’s wake, having put all his whiskey and bourbon bottles for people to take, funding Lou’s trip. The second donation was from Rob’s life insurance to purchase a classroom.
Trips to Kenya
In 2005, I took my next step in my Nasio journey when I first sponsored a child – a cheeky four-year-old- called Mwanamissi. She was truly part of our family until she left the projects aged 18. Later that year, it was time for my first trip to Kenya with Nasio. I was part of the second volunteer group that painted the new school in time for its opening by the Bishop in November. From that point on, I was hooked and have visited the projects in Kenya – apart from the odd exception – every year since, sometimes managing to travel twice a year.
Over the last 15 years, I have seen such amazing work on my trips to Kenya. From humble beginnings – one volunteer teacher and two helpers in a small roadside shack to the opening of Noah’s Ark ECD School. St Irene’s as a mud hut to the opening of St Irene’s ECD school. The transformation of Nancy’s childhood home into guest accommodation and finally, the development of the medical centre and cafeteria.
I have taken part in numerous medical and jigger clinics, from the first in 2012 with my Mum, who was the oldest UK visitor to Kenya, to the one that took place in the almost completed clinic in 2015.
I have watched children come and go, seen staff changes, but always feel so welcomed
I have watched children come and go, seen staff changes, but always feel so welcomed, especially by my ‘other’ daughter, long serving staff member Jane Munyendo.
Exciting projects and outside the box thinking
During my time supporting Nasio, I have witnessed many a learning curve and ‘outside the box’ thinking in reaction to difficult situations. There have been many trial and error projects like the first food-producing greenhouses or the start of the summer feeding programme. The development of mosquito nets, d lights and fishponds, or the spirulina production and supplementary feeding projects. Not forgetting the One Acre farm project that we have seen support so many.
One project that has been great to see flourish is the newly established Peer Education programme to support teenage children who have lost one or both parents. The programme has done so much to redress the concerns of these children and provide safe secure spaces for them to be listened to and advised on all teen issues.
From volunteer to trustee
My role at Nasio has evolved over the years too. When managing the charity’s many projects got too much for Nancy on her own, I applied for the first paid employee role. My office was Nancy’s study and my job was to find sponsors for all the children, manage events (London 10k, Abingdon Market Place Music Festival, etc) and be a visiting speaker at a variety of groups, churches and school. It was great to spread the word about the work of Nasio – thankfully, first-hand experience came in very useful!
On retirement I continued to volunteer by visiting the ECD schools annually to take photos and meet with the children to write or draw pictures for their sponsor.
I am currently a Trustee of the charity and their secretary. It is great to still be involved with a small charity that makes a big difference – where the money donated goes straight to where it is needed. A charity where you can keep in touch and even visit your sponsored children – being able to make a real difference in their lives too.
What a journey it’s been since that sad day in 2004!
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