A former teacher from Weymouth has been recognised for her charity work in Kenya by being made an MBE in the New Year Honours List.
Over the past 20 years, Josie Hastings has dedicated her time to working to improve the lives of underprivileged children and families in Murugi, Chogoria.
With her husband Martyn, who received an MBE in 2010, she has organised sponsors for orphaned or very needy children to get them through basic education up to KCSE level among other projects and fundraising activities.
In addition to building new and renovating old school classrooms, they have supplied resources for around 18 Primary and Secondary schools including two recently installed small IT labs.
They helped to build the first day Secondary school in Meru South in 2001 and ten years later started a new Special Educational Needs class for students who hadn’t previously attended school. They also assist other Special Educational Needs (SEN) classes, predominantly in the old Murugi Location (now Murugi East and West).
Through their work, 17 Chesil Education Partnership schools have been linked with counterparts in the Chogoria/Murugi Education Zone through British Council programmes. Exchange visits for teachers take place annually and 130 orphans and needy children have received sponsorship through the organisation.
From 1999 the couple’s core project has been to build and continue to develop Baragu Health Centre, which is now operated by Tharaka Nithi County Government. The running costs and continuing development is made possible with assistance from many schools and individual donations with sponsorship funding monthly HIV/Aids support group meetings at the hospital.
In February, they hope the County Health Services will open their completed Paediatric Ward during the next volunteer team visit.
Martyn told us “It would be excellent to see the Governor and other County officials attend an opening ceremony to celebrate the efforts of UK stakeholders in the Baragu facility.”
Since retiring in 1999, the grandmother of two says she visits Murugi twice a year, with the rest of her time spent coordinating fundraising projects and events.
Speaking about the award, Josie said their charity work is “made possible by the groups of volunteers who work hard building homes and health and education facilities, as well as helping to support children, the elderly and vulnerable members of the community.”
She added that her grandchildren would be really excited when they find out.