Village children link hands across the continents

Africa Day at Twyford School PNL-141206-100700001
Africa Day at Twyford School PNL-141206-100700001

Two schools more than 6,000 miles apart are being brought closer together thanks to a project launched by a builder.

Distances pose no barrier for a tiny village primary school which plans to twin with a school in a remote village in East Africa.

Wayne Martin at Roka

Wayne Martin at Roka

Twyford Church of England School is developing a partnership with Roka Primary School in Kenya, after learning about the 
Roka Project, which fundraises to improve the facilities and enhance the lives of the children of the village.

The project was started by Brackley builder Wayne Martin following a visit to Roka about 14 years ago.

Twyford headteacher Judith Foster said: “As a school, we wanted to get involved in what they’re doing out there. We wanted to raise awareness of the challenges the children out there have to face.

“We’re a village, they’re a village, but it’s appreciating the differences in lifestyle between the two communities.”

Mr Martin said: “The whole school in Twyford is less than one class in Roka.”

Mrs Foster added children in the two schools would write letters to each other to give pupils at both schools a chance to learn.

She said: “Apparently they speak a lot of English. They’re taught in English.

“Wayne is going in November and he’s going to take the letters with him. He’s talking about taking out little bags with toothpaste and toothbrushes.”

The school held an Africa Day before half term, when children made decorations, masks and beading.

These items were then used to decorate a marquee in the school grounds for a big African Barn Dance for the whole village last Saturday evening.

Mr Martin started making regular visits to Roka to build desks for the schoolchildren, after seeing that the 500-plus pupils had to sit on the floor for lessons.

Over the past seven years, the project has grown, with local fundraisers embracing the charity and teams of volunteers joining Mr Martin’s work parties to Roka.

Over the last five years, the Roka Project has raised about £40,000.

In March the 2nd Buckingham Brownies handed over £407.64 proceeds of their Christmas bazaar to the project.

The youngsters, who were working to achieve their World Issues badge, were inspired to raise money for Roka after hearing a talk about life at the Kenyan school.

From building desks, work in Roka has grown to include re-roofing a classroom block, creating a rainwater collection tank to provide fresh water for the school, building a new classroom and creating a football pitch for the children.

Now Mr Martin is hoping to step things up another gear, by building a health centre for the community.

“We’re hoping to raise £50,000 to buy the land and build the health centre,” he said. “If kids get malaria there’s nothing they can do.

“They have to walk five or six miles to the nearest facility.”

The team have identified a plot of land right next to the Roka School, which they’re looking to purchase, and are travelling out to Roka in August, hopefully to conclude the deal.

“We want to try to make the health centre self-sustaining,” said Mr Martin

“The plan is we’re going to build a small, two-block accommodation unit of eight rooms which we’re going to rent out, hopefully to the teachers of Roka Primary School, at a preferential 

“Because it’s such a rural area, they spend between 50 and 75 per cent of their salary on transport to work.

“It would give us a monthly income which would help us sustain the health centre.”

With the project’s growing ambitions, it needs to increase its fundraising, and with that in mind it is holding its third Rock 4 Roka concert.

Rock 4 Roka 3, at Brackley Town Hall on Saturday, July 12, is the biggest event yet for the project, with Slade tribute act Slyde Alive! headlining, supported by Brackley band Inside Out.

Inside Out were due to go out to Roka in November to play an open-air gig, which has had to be cancelled after lead guitarist and vocalist Scott Wilson ruptured his spleen in a mountain biking accident.

This will be the band’s first gig since the accident.

Tickets £16. Call 07900 458013 or 07793 633862.

Find out more about Roka at