Maddy Webb of TR Fastenings with socks she is collecting which can be turned into toys for children in Mombasa.

Uckfield socks could help Mombasa charity

Spare socks are being sought by a manager at TR Fastenings in Uckfield to help a charity that’s making a big difference to the lives of children in Kenya.

Maddy Webb, global customer quality manager at TR, would also be grateful for Lego and financial donations to help Friends of Mombasa Children (FOMC).

The registered charity is currently fund-raising to buy mosquito nets to provide protection against malaria for children living in its school orphanage and nearby slums. It costs £5 to buy a net and this could save a young child’s life.

The charity is also fundraising for the ‘8K Classroom challenge’ to buy a little more land and construct a brick school building at a cost of £8,000 per classroom.

The Lego Maddy is asking for will be used in classroom demonstrations and the socks are to teach children how to make sock-toys.

Maddy Webb_Sock Puppets

Sock toy-making instructions are being followed by volunteers at TR Fastenings before being taken to Mombasa where older children will learn how to follow them.

Voluntary teams at TR sites throughout the UK are currently testing instructions for sock-toy making, turning the woolly footwear into animals such as zebras and elephants, ahead of Maddy visiting Mombasa early next year.

Maddy became involved in the charity through her parents Chris and Val Azzaro who have supported children and Unity Freretown Junior and Primary School, north of Mombasa Island, as it has developed over the years.

A high standard of teaching has been fostered to the extent that some children are now paying to attend which helps with funding the charity. Paying for an education is common in Mombasa.

Nearly all places at the school are free with children coming from slums. They might be known to a teacher as having lost their parents, or there might be a small family finding it difficult to afford to pay for their children to attend school through the normal route.

One meal a day

The children are assessed for need and once in the school they are able to take part in a feeding programme which gives them a good meal each day – probably the only one they will have – and access to health care and an education.

The school is funded by people in the UK but Maddy said there were exciting developments too with a school at Eindhoven getting involved and one of the richer schools in Mombasa also helping.

Maddy said only a small proportion of the 300 children at the school go on to further education. Most leave when they are 14 and one of the problems is that they have no idea of the opportunities that could be available to them. They don’t understand the concept of industry.

Tuktuk driver

Typically the children will see their career aspirations as being a teacher, a doctor, a tuktuk driver, or mechanic, because that is what they see around them.

A couple of years ago Maddy’s father organised a trip to take some to visit an airport and for the first time they were aware of how an airport worked. They were able to climb on a fire engine, see a water cannon and generally interact with the place.

Another trip is planned to Mombasa’s huge port, where ship loads of goods are travelling in and out daily on their way through Africa.

Maddy is going out at the end of February to spend a couple of weeks in the school where one of things she will do is talk about the supply chain in industry – something she knows about through her own TR Fastenings job.


She will have videos to show processes and will take children to the port to see the steel and cars coming in to start firing their imaginations about the possibilities in front of them.

Maddy said Christmas is quite strange for the children because the school is closed on Christmas Day and they won’t have a meal there.

When there is no food to eat the concept of presents and toys is unknown and pales into insignifiance but Maddy said that as a mother herself she knows how valuable soft toys are, especially to younger children, and giving them is a powerful thing.


“I want to teach the older children how to make the toys so that there can always be a toy for a young child.”

She added socks were light-weight and could easily be carried in suitcases and there was a strong culture of re-cycling in Africa so the children would not need to rely on the UK for supplies.

Maddy said: “A lot of people from Sussex help keep the charity going, but we’re appealing for more support and if anyone can help the kids, even with a small one-off donation, it would be hugely appreciated.

“It’s easy to do this by visiting the Friends of the Mombasa Children Virgin Money Giving webpage.”

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