Mark James, is a good friend and supporter of Nyumbani, who graciously agreed to share his Nyumbani story here on www.nyumbani.org. The below testimonial explains his connection to Nyumbani, his unique fundraising efforts involving his favorite hobby, and his future Nyumbani plans.
My name is Mark James (49 until October), born in Singapore when my dad was serving in the Royal Navy and now a resident of Montrose, Scotland, the birthplace of my mum. I have one 18-year-old daughter but I myself have been single for many years now. A career in the army, as a physical training instructor, followed my schooling. Then a few years in the antiques trade preceded running my own taxi firm. Now I am a self-employed taxi driver and my free time is mostly filled by my love of squash.
My mum, Alison Stedman, a Rotarian of 17 years or so is heavily involved in taking volunteer teams to Nyumbani in Kenya for two weeks, “Service Above Self”, every year and sometimes twice a year. I believe she has made 17 trips over the last 12 years, raised a huge amount of money (approx £400,000) and provided wells, drip feed irrigation, medical equipment, solar pumps, houses, and so much more to the Nyumbani programs.
I have listened to her stories and seen her pictures so when a family trip was mooted for 2015 (she’d already taken the southern half of our family) I decided it was time to visit also. You have to raise some money before you go she told us and I got to thinking what I could contribute so here is where my love of squash came in.
My age is now dictating how much I can realistically achieve in squash circles: I have played in the national team, on the world stage and now play in the over 40’s squad, soon to be over 50’s. Why not try for a few world records I thought and why not for Mum’s Nyumbani Scotland Trust.
And so it began…all the training, the logistics, and the people participation.
I decided to try to break the record for the most matches played non-stop. This I
achieved with 77 matches played in 23 hours with just five minutes break each hour. This raised an amazing £7,500 in sponsorship money, which along with a family brunch fundraiser adding another £5000, went to building two classrooms for the Nyumbani Village polytechnic. My mum formally opened these in February this year.
My brother, sister-in-law, niece, nephew, Mum and I went on our African adventure last year in July. I was blown away by the whole set-up; the integrities of Sr, Mary and her staff and of course the children. Based in Nyumbani Home, we did the whole Nyumbani thing, visiting the Children’s Home, Lea Toto and the Village. I saw how much my mum and her teams had achieved over the years; there were Rotary District 1010 signs up everywhere, marking their contributions.
Through talking with Sr. Mary, I realized that September 8th 2017 is the 25th anniversary of the founding of Nyumbani and another fundraising idea came into my mind. I could walk non-stop from Nyumbani Village to Nyumbani Children’s Home to raise awareness and funds in Kenya with the help of the Rotary Club in that country. This is to be the centrepiece of the anniversary celebrations and plans are in progress as I write. However more fundraising required at home this year and next, as my mum doesn’t allow anyone to go to Nyumbani without some money in their hands!!
For my second fundraiser in Scotland, my friend Peter and I embarked on another world record attempt for the longest squash rally (continuous hits). Unfortunately we did not break the record but did manage to raise another £2000 or so for Nyumbani. In August of this year I plan to attempt to break another world record by playing the longest squash marathon, requiring playing non-stop for 44 hours.
The whole experience of Nyumbani made me realise how lucky I am to have a loving family, food on the table, money in my pocket and above all health and happiness.
Thank you very much Mark for sharing your Nyumbani story! Your fundraising efforts contribute greatly to the wellbeing of Nyumbani and its programs.
If you are interested in sharing your Nyumbani testimonial please email [email protected] to learn more.