‘Karibuni Children is delighted to tell everyone that our founder, Corinne Joy Murphy, who is a member of Aylesbury Methodist Church, has been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours this Jubilee Year and been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for her charitable services to Kenya through the Karibuni Children.
In 1990 Bill and Joy Murphy together with their 17-year old daughter, Corinne were chosen to take part in a 6-month exchange programme with a Kenyan Methodist Minister and his family – a life-changing and enriching experience for us all. We lived and worked with the local people in Kariokor, Nairobi. Bill was the Superintendent of two Nairobi Circuits with Kariokor having the largest membership. Joy worked as a volunteer with the Community Nurses in three clinics in extremely poor areas of Nairobi and Corinne worked as a volunteer in the nursery at the church several days a week. We saw many children living and begging on the streets, and had to limit ourselves to giving food to one group on each visit to the shops – we could not afford to offer food to them all!
We travelled many miles to churches for worship which took place in various types of building, including a tent, a ramshackle hut which was the YMCA, and the shade of several mango trees. We had many adventures including staying in a Massai village in a cow dung house when we were visited by a poisonous snake – but that’s another story!
In 1993 the three of us went to France on holiday. On the third day, driving to Lake Annecy, we were involved in a car crash in which Bill and Joy received minor injuries, but Corinne suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for a month in France. She was paralysed down the right side, could not swallow or cough and had no speech. After 4 weeks we were all air-lifted back to England and she was admitted to Northwick Park Hospital where she spent a further 3 months. Here she underwent intensive rehabilitation therapy, which continued for a lengthy period after her discharge. For many months she was very unpredictable and unstable in various ways. However, she worked very hard at physiotherapy and with the speech therapist and made excellent progress.
She had been a member of the MAYC Singers, but as a result of damage to her larynx caused during the intubation by the paramedics at the accident, she was no longer able to sing. In 1994 she went to the Albert Hall to share in the Annual Display and listen to her friends in the choir. She came home and told us that while they were singing she had a vision of children in Kenya putting out their hands to her and asking her to help them – she responded by putting out her hands and promising to help them. Bill and I put this down to the continued effects of the head injury and thought it would ‘go away’ if we ignored it!
A few weeks later she came home and told us she’d been to see a local bank manager and told him her story and asked him to open an account for the children – she gave him the £2.56 she had, and he opened an account! We always say that this Bank Manager had far more faith than we did! We wondered whatever she would do next!
We told her no-one would give her money unless she was collecting for a registered charity – so she found out about the Charity Commissioners, contacted them and went to London to meet with them. In 1995 the charity was registered as the Karibuni Children in record time. Karibuni Children because Karibuni means welcome to many in Kiswahili.
Corinne decided she would have to do a fund-raising event to kick-start the charity and eventually decided to cycle from Edinburgh to London (she had thought about East – West America, North – South France or East – West France!) 460 miles over about 12 days, finishing at Battersea Park for the 50th Anniversary of MAYC where she was interviewed for ‘Songs of Praise’. Although her completion of that bike ride was a miracle given her previous condition, we think the even greater one was that Bill and Joy managed to cycle alternate days with her while the other drove! She raised £13,500. This was the financial launch of Karibuni Children.
Rev Maureen Jones was a Mission Partner in Nairobi at this time, and having heard about Karibuni Children, asked if we could help with a small feeding and counselling/education programme some young people were organising – this was Karibuni’s first expenditure after Corinne’s bike ride. Soon afterwards Karibuni Children was asked if we could help fund a nursery for 20 children in the Kibera slum – there are now 300 children in the project at all levels of education including Vocational Training, College and University!
This has become the continuing story of Karibuni Children – with a growth in the number of projects partnered, and in the number of children supported. Karibuni Children now partners with 14 projects, 12 in the Methodist Church in Kenya, through feeding, education, providing uniforms and shoes, health care and lots of love through the project workers, supporting about 1,200 children from the streets and slums in both urban and rural situations across Kenya. Our only criteria for support is that the children should be from the poorest of the poor families and situations.
Karibuni Childrenees are delighted that Corinne’s courage and determination have been recognised and rewarded in this way. There is no doubt that without her tenacity and commitment against all the odds, there would have been no Karibuni Children; 1,200 children would not have been fed, educated, clothed, had health care and been loved; their lives would not have been transformed – and many would have died; approximately £1.5 million pounds would not have been raised. We all join others in sending warm congratulations to her, and gratitude to all who have supported her since 1993 and Karibuni Children since 1995.’
Bill and Joy Murphy