Why Portishead mum wants donations for Kenyan children rather than Christmas presents

PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 November 2019

Tanya Marriott fitting shoes in Kenya. Picture: Tracey Fowler

Tanya Marriott fitting shoes in Kenya. Picture: Tracey Fowler

Tracey Fowler

A Portishead business owner is seeking donations to allow her to continue to help underprivileged children in Africa.

Tanya Marriott in Kenya. Picture: Tracey FowlerTanya Marriott in Kenya. Picture: Tracey Fowler

Mother-of-two, Tanya Marriott, who runs SoleLution shoe shop, and her daughter Hetty, aged seven, organised a cake sale at Portishead Primary School to help fund the transportation of unwanted shoes, to poor children in a village near Mombasa, who attend Jolaurabi School, a school funded by the British charity Educate the Kids.

The sale raised £220 for the cause.

Tanya said: "In July 2017 we started collecting worn but still wearable shoes from our customers at SoleLution to help two charities - Educate the Kids and Za Foundation - both helping children to a better future in Africa.

"We have many customers whose children grow out of their shoes before they wear them out and I wanted to give them the option to recycle them, but I wanted to know where those shoes were going and who they were helping."

Hetty and Yvonne after the bake sale. Picture: Tracey FowlerHetty and Yvonne after the bake sale. Picture: Tracey Fowler

Tanya was given the opportunity to visit Jolaurabi School in January 2018 to help fit the shoes and fell in love with the children and their families. A number of pupils from the school visited Portishead later in the year and again in September 2019 as part of The Singing Children of Africa's fundraising tour organised by Educate the Kids.

Tanya said: "They have nothing but are so welcoming, loving and so very grateful for every opportunity they are given.

"We fitted more than 300 pairs of shoes during my first self-funded visit which was a massive achievement, but there are about 800 pupils in the school so most went without on that trip. My hope was that I would return and give each and every pupil a pair of shoes, which later became a reality."

In 2019 Tanya, her husband and two children were joined by three friends on another trip to take more shoes to the pupils of Jolaurabi School.

Although the trips are self funded, SoleLution was able to use £1,500 of travel vouchers, the prize given to the shop when it won the Footwear Awards Shop Front of the Year in 2018.

Tanya added: "I've debated for a long time about asking for help to fund our next trip to deliver and fit more shoes, but in order for us to go in 2020 we will need to raise more than £1,300.

"As a result we have launched a crowdfunding page and are asking anyone who would buy us a drink or gift at Christmas, to donate to our fund instead.

"This will allow us to go back to Kenya to carry on the good work, ensuring the safe delivery of the shoes and make sure they are fitted as best they can be to the people who need them."

To make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/flyustokenya

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