This week John Isles met up with Caroline Newton a new member of Click4Action to talk to her about her amazing charity work.

John: Caroline, welcome to our speakers slot and before asking you about your Charity work, perhaps you could tell us a little about yourself.

Caroline: I have lived in the small village of Orston Notts for the last 25 years. It is where my three children were raised and where I have enjoyed a relatively simple life!

Back in the late 1980s I established a giftware company distributing a range of products from the US, www.twoscompanybymulhouse.co.uk. Our offices are based in the village and this was very helpful when in 1999 my third child was born with Downs Syndrome. Over the years I was able to continue to work, and give him the extra support which he needed. Tom’s birth was really my first introduction into the disabled community. When he was only 3 months old we were fortunate to be introduced to School for Parents in Nottingham www.schoolforparents.org. This school helped us tremendously, and today 11 years after Tom left, I am still connected to them as Chair of the Board of Trustees.

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I love to travel… that’s where most of my money goes but when I’m home there is nothing better than a glass of wine and a good book!

John: I’m sure having your own business and 3 children keeps you busy but how did your interest in the Friends of Kianjai come about?

Caroline: Back in 2011 an old school friend and I decided to take our children to Kenya. We thought it would be good for them to realize how fortunate they are and that other children have it really tough. So we arranged to work in a secondary school in rural Kenya for a month.

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When we were there we discovered that the community was facing a famine due to drought. These people had become friends, we couldn’t come home and do nothing, so we formed a charity Friends of Kianjai Kenya, my friend Sally is an accountant, so she registered us in record time, and in 4 months we raised £25,000, which fed the community until the next rains came and there was a harvest.

At that point we received an email from them ‘ Don’t send any more money, we have greens’… but we had about £6000 still in our UK bank account, and so it was jointly decided to use this to sponsor some students through secondary school. And from there it has really been one activity after another. You can see some of these on www.friendsofkianjai.com

John: Let me throw an “off the wall” question to you; Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

Caroline: I have to say that I prefer to follow the path that is directly under my feet rather than projecting myself into some future perceived situation. Yes, of course I would like to see the projects in Kianjai moving forward, and local people there becoming more and more empowered to find their own way through life’s problems, but I don’t want to be too prescriptive about what this might look like. In many ways I know my mind cannot see the potential of what is possible in all areas of my life, so I think it’s best to focus on positively engaging in what is actually happening now. Even if what is happening is seemingly challenging I think it helps to focus on seeing the present in a positive light .Then from that ‘glass half full’ place, being prepared to move forward taking risks, and with a generous spirit. I think if I go forward in this way the future will just take care of itself J

John: I think you are right, if we focus more on the here and now and do what is right, the future takes care of itself.  Caroline, I’m going to stop here but I have some more questions I’d like to ask you, so please come back in two weeks for Part two.

Part two will be published on Thursday 16 July

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