Laura Whitmore Reports From Her Trip To Kenya With Free The Children


by Contributor |
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TV presenter Laura Whitmore reports from her moving trip to an education project in Kenya...

How did this happen? I’m standing on the banks of a river in the middle of the Masai Mara in Kenya, strapping a 5l barrel of dirty water to my head. Mama Alice, a female elder in the locality, is teaching me how to double knot the rope and my fair Irish skin is dripping profusely from the unforgiving African heat.

Flashback to 18 months earlier, and MTV asking me to cohost an event for young people called ‘We day’ at Wembley Arena London. To be honest, I didn’t really know what ‘We Day’ was. But MTV was a partner and it gave me a chance to say ‘Hello Wembley’, which for most of us is on the list of things to do in life - A shallow, if not honest, reason to host a charity event.

But that day was truly empowering, not just for the schools attending, but for me. No ‘poor them’ stories. It was all about positivity - the power of the human spirit and what we can achieve if we put our minds to something. What truly struck a chord for me was when Malala Yousafzai, the young girl from Pakistan who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out about a girl’s right to education, took to the stage. Yes I’d read her story in the papers. But to see her, as a young girl standing there similar to her British counterparts sitting in the audience, made it all so real to me.

This year I once again co-hosted the event. The charity behind We Day is Free the Children. They state their mission is to create a world where all young people are free to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change. It was founded by Craig Kielburger in 1995 when he gathered 11 school friends to begin fighting child labour. He was 12.

Free the Children 
Free the Children 

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Craig and his brother and other amazing people from the charity who urged me to see some of their projects out in the field first hand. So I agreed…

And now here I am. In Kenya. Alone.

'Some of the families I met had walked 6 hours there and back to see their children graduate.'

Though not actually alone. I’m surrounded by these incredible men and women. I’m learning about how the women carry water from the river to boil and use as drinking water. They do this 4 times a day. Though I struggle with a small barrel, they easily carry 10l a go. Mama Alice has a slight dent in her forehead from doing this every day for almost her entire life.

Free the Children has come into the area and provided fresh drinking water wells with the hope that soon, the women won’t have to use the dirty water from the river.

Free the Children 

The previous day I attended the first graduation of twenty girls from Kisaruni, one of the schools built by the project. One of the girls who graduated was in an arranged marriage when she was 12 and her grandmother came to the school for help. They helped convince her father that she was worth more to him with an education than getting 10 goats if he married her off. Her father was at the graduation I attended. He was crying with happiness to see what his daughter achieved.

Some of the families I met had walked 6 hours there and back to see their children graduate. Every single one of these female graduates had been accepted into third level education.

Free the Children

I spent a day with the Mama’s beading beautiful pieces of jewellery that through Free the Children they now sell all across the United States. This has increased their salary by four times.

The women I met were so warm, inviting and hard working. They quite simply took my breath away. One of the nights the elder women from the Masai tribe gave me a blessing to protect me and thank me for my work there. They knew I had been travelling alone and wanted to show their gratitude. It was one of the most touching experiences of my life that I don’t think I can really put into words. Though I’ve tried.

Also that week we helped build part of the new surgical wing of Baraka Health centre which was built 5 years ago thanks to Free the Children. I’m not a builder. AT ALL. However, the experience of doing something so out of my comfort zone was exciting.

The whole experience and the positivity was thrilling – as I’ve said its not about ‘poor them’ its about giving voices to those that don’t have one. Creating a sustainable community that, if given the materials and encouragement, can thrive.

Free the Children 

Today, Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner, with more than 2.3 million youth involved in innovative education and development programs. Since its inception, Free The Children has worked in more than 45 countries.

And for me. Well now when I go to the tap to pour myself a glass of clean water I am that little bit more grateful.

To learn about how you volunteer or help with the charity go to

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