One man’s mission to save children from a slum

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A PE teacher from Bexhill is helping to transform the lives of children living in one of the worst slums in Africa.

Raad Swais, who went to St Richard’s School, Bexhill College and Chichester University, launched The Thunder Foundation (TTF) in 2012 when he went to teach at a private school in Kenya, which is located next to Kawangware, one of the largest slums in Nairobi.

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Raad was so shocked by the appalling living conditions and complete lack of opportunities for those living in the slums, that he was determined to do all he could to help, especially the children.

At first Raad tried to help by handing out food, clothes and books but soon realised that this provided only short term benefits. With support from family and friends both in England and Nairobi, He established The Thunder Foundation (TTF) and began raising funds.

He began by starting a Football Academy (2012) offering over 100 children from Kawangware evening coaching with the opportunity of weekend fixtures.

This not only gave the children something to look forward to and focus on, but it kept them off the streets at times when they are most vulnerable, keeping them away from prostitution, drug addiction and alcoholism.

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The Foundation now employs two coaches and three assistant coaches, offering the children (aged from 7 years to 20 years old) football training, as well as guidance and support.

Football training is now held daily at The Muslim Primary School in Kawangware. TTF developed a partnership with the school, donating and installing computers and a photo copier, making it the first school in Kawangware to have these facilities. In return the headmaster allows TTF to use their football pitch for free.

For the past year the Foundation has been providing a basic meal for the children after training and a club house which is a safe place for them to socialise.

In January 2014 TTF opened its first school The Mutaratara Learning Centre. The school offers the children, free education, food and healthcare. The children of the slums are extremely malnourished and TTF gives each child two meals a day.

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Children are up to date with their immunisations and have regular medical check-ups.

In September 2016 the Foundation embarked on a new project setting up a flat to provide a safe home for four street-boys.

Raad’s mum Adrienne, who helps to administer the foundation, visited in December to see for herself the difference it is making.

She said: “The boys have gone from being homeless, hungry and scared to beautiful, confident and helpful teenagers. Our four boys cook their own food which we supply.

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“One of Raad’s work colleagues pays for the boys to receive fresh meat twice a week. Most boys leave home as a result of death of their parents and domestic abuse. It is very common for parents of school children to die, life expectancy is very low compared to the UK. “Girls also go through the same problems and for them it’s even worse, for they are more likely to marry very young, have children early and spend their lives in abusive marriages and poverty. Others are dumped by their spouses or boyfriends once they become pregnant, as a result they also retreat to street life.

“One of our girl football players was scouted over a year ago and offered a full boarding scholarship for a teachers training college. She is now into her second year.

“I went to the flat where the four displaced boys live It was buzzing! Not only were the four boys there but about 20-30 boys from the Football Academy. During the day they use the flat as a club house, it was fantastic. They have a TV with Raad’s PlayStation and when I was there they were playing each other in a football competition.

“Three of our boy footballers have been given full boarding scholarships for senior school.”

If you would like to support Raad’s amazing efforts in Nairobi the Thunder Foundation is always looking for good quality second hand football boots, sets of football bibs and team kits.

The Thunder Foundation has been a registered British Charity since 1st December 2014. You can find out more be visiting the website at thethunderfoundation.org. on Facebook or by emailing to thethunderfoundation@gmail.com.

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