A retired midwife who vowed to help street children she saw while on holiday in Kenya is to give up her life in Britain to try to make a difference in Africa.
Gayle Woods, 55, is giving up almost everything she owns to work full time for the charity, Gap Kenya, which she set up two years ago with husband Paul, 57.
The couple, from Mossley, are selling their home, many of their belongings and even re-homing their pet dog Maddy ahead of the move to Mombasa later this month.
Gayle, who delivered thousands of babies during her 36 years at Tameside hospital, said: “We went on holiday in May 2011 and asked one of the waiters to give us a tour of Mombasa city. It was then that we saw children sleeping on the pavement and I felt we really needed to do something about it. I thought Paul might think it was stupid, but he felt the same way.
“We only went because it was a cheap holiday on teletext, but in doing so it totally changed our lives.”
The couple returned to the country that August, and after overcoming difficulties with local gang leaders they were allowed into the area to feed the children.
They’ve been back many times since and have set up a rescue home where children can live with foster parents and receive an education.
But after dealing with things from afar, last year they decided that they should move to Mombassa, and now that Gayle has retired from her job as Knowsley’s public health midwife they plan to fly out on April 26.
Gayle said: “We will have to be very careful when we’re in Kenya. The general feeling there is that if you’re white then you’re a millionaire. People do think we’re rich and want money off us so we do have to be very careful.”
As well as leaving their home and belongings, the couple are leaving behind their six children and one grandchild.
Gayle said: “I don’t really know what they think, they say they’re fine about it and they’re going along with it, but they’ve been very supportive.
“The youngest is 16, but he lives with his mum, and the oldest is in his 30s. We’ll come back for holidays and I’m sure we’ll have lots of visitors – one of Paul’s sons has already booked to see us at Christmas with his girlfriend.
“Our dream is to buy land and build our own little homes and eventually have a school which will save us from having to pay school fees.”
While working in Mombassa, Gayle and Paul’s work will be supported by fundraisers in the UK. For more information about the charity visit gapkenya.com
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