Richard Mwangi

Many people have made enquiries about Richard Mwangi from Sagana, Kenya. He spent six months in Rye and made a great impression on everyone he met. He was chosen by the Dominican Friars who ran his secondary school, as the student sponsored to visit England in order to raise awareness among the English schools which support this charity. While living with his host, Mr. Martin Button of Mermaid Street, a long standing friend of the family. Richard paid visits to many of the schools, including Eton, between July 1902 and January of last year.

He got to know friends at St. Mary’s through attending services, helping with visitors to the tower and at the Flower Festival. He impressed everyone with his laughter, energy, humility and Christian faith. Back at home he lived with his widower father Jadiel (his mother was drowned two years previous to his visit to Rye), and six brothers and sisters – Beatrice (18), Phyllis (16), Mary (14), David (12), Kenneth (10) and eight year old Agnes. The family lived in a one room hut and farmed, at barley subsistence level, a small plot of land. Richard was the only member of the family whom the charity could afford to fund at the school seven miles away.

Richard Mwamga by Marina Kim
Richard Mwamga by Marina Kim

Richard left school with very acceptable results in his Kenyan National exams and he had also been the school Sports Captain. Here he played football on The Salts with anyone needing a player and was welcomed by Rye Wheelers Cycling Club. His host acquired a bike for him. He rode with the club most Sundays, cycling easily up and down the very challenging hills of Rye, Fairlight and beyond.

There was no possibility of any money coming either from his family or school to take Richard on into any further education or job training. The reality was a return to the family to help with the farming. Responding to the encouragement of his Rye friends he returned and travelled to Nairobi and enrolled there on a course in travel and tourism at Bridge College. Rye Wheelers raised £750 with a sponsored Indoor 24 Hour Cycle Marathon and sent the money directly to the College Administration. Members of St. Mary’s opened a bank account in his name, here in Rye, from where they have arranged transfers as needed. The contribution from Church members and friends have amounted to £937.

Richard’s College fees are £350 a term in a four term year, this covers tuition and lodging but he also has to pay for bus travel from the outskirts of Nairobi where he now lives (the accommodation is cheaper there), for his food, living expenses, study materials and medical care.

He has also chosen to spend some of the money to help his family. He put a roof on the walls of a hut he had started alongside the family home so he could have his own house and give the family more space. He bought some grain and bean stores and he paid for one terms secondary education for fourteen year old Mary, proudly sending a copy of her school report to his friends in Rye and wishing she could have continued at the school.

Richard’s syllabus includes Tour Guiding, Tour Operations, Tourism Marketing, Travel and Tourism Development and Fare Calculations. He also learns elementary French which introduces him to a forth language. His first language is his tribal Kikuku, his second the pan African Swahili and his third is English.

Recently the students were advised by the College to learn to drive as this would make them more marketable to employers at the end of the course. Despite worries about the extra expense Richard sensibly enrolled at the Glory Driving School for a ten lesson course during his December month’s holiday. A Jubilant phone message, via a mobile given him by Verger Clive, reported his success. Richard writes enthusiastic and deeply grateful letters for the help that he has received from Rye.

Your continued donations of cash or cheques will enable him to pay for the final two terms of his training and also pay for ‘Galileo’ software which he will also require. They can be passed to either of the Churchwardens at St. Mary’s.

Bob & Fanny Baldwin who have highlighted Richard Mawangi’s progress in St. Mary’s Church reports (from which most of these notes are taken) end their last bulletin with these words “Through God’s grace we and his other friends can enable him to earn his living, help his family and fulfil his potential”.

Rye’s Own February 2004

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