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A group of South African orphans and scouts have benefited from the kindness of Preston North End's long suffering General Manager and Kit Sponsor Amanda Cummings, after she heard about a man taking past seasons' football kits over to Africa for disadvantaged kids to use.
She immediately rummaged through her home and dug out all the old Preston North End WFC kits and contacted Dave Wildman, who transported the lot over to Africa for the kids, who were "over the moon", to use a common football cliché!
Dave commented in an e-mail to Amanda: "It was really kind of you to donate so much. My colleague Kate picked the kit up for me and brought it into work. I was gobsmacked by how much there was. You did a really good thing and made so many children happy. Thank you!! I'm lost for words, I can't thank you enough!!"
To which Amanda replied: "Many thanks for the e-mail and pictures of the children in both South Africa and Swaziland in their football gear - I must admit that it certainly brought a tear to my eye (of joy that is) to see so many happy faces all in PNE attire!!
"I'm sure those sentiments are shared by all of us involved with Preston North End WFC!"
In Dave's own words, here's the story about how the African cause all came about.... "I'd been to South Africa a few times on holiday and always returned thinking it would have been nice to give some footballs away. Kids over there love football but very few actually own a ball, most are just too poor. You see kids running round kicking cans etc.
"The last time I was there we had a football in the boot. We went past two little lads and stopped. They started to run away, probably terrified, but when I got the ball out they stopped. I kicked it over to them and their little faces just lit up. They then ran off into a field to play. It made me realise how something so small can make a difference so once I'd decided to return I had to do something.
"Along with the kit Preston North End WFC donated, I had kits donated by Liverpool FC and Sheffield United. Mitre also donated 20 footballs. I then spent £900 in a clearance sale on the Sports Direct website, buying more football kits and balls.
"I wanted to take the gear to an orphanage and came across the SOS Children's Villages charity. They have villages all over the world including eight in South Africa and two in Swaziland. Most of the orphans here lost their parents to Aids and some of them have to live with HIV.
"I decided to go to the SOS Children's village in Mbabane in Swaziland. The Village houses 100 orphans. It gives them somewhere safe to live and allows them have a childhood again. There are 10 houses in the village, all of which house 10 orphans. Within each house lives an 'Auntie' and a 'Mother' so all the children get the stability and love they need.
"As well as this there is a Kindergarten, a primary school and a secondary school so the children get a good education and have the opportunity to make something of their lives. One former pupil is now a doctor practising in London. They also have a medical centre which has treatment rooms and also an office for SASO (Swaziland Aids Support Organisation). The whole layout was amazing, they do such wonderful work.
"We gave the majority of gear to the orphanage but kept some back for a scout group from a township called Huntington next to the Kruger national park. There was no road leading to the township, just a dirt track. The scout leader wanted people to join the scouts in order to stay out of trouble. He wanted to help them make the right decisions and make the most of their lives. He saw football as a tool to get people involved. It's a tool that seemed to work."
The scout leader also commented: "Thanks for not forgetting us. I came to the community with this scouting movement because there was no one to look after the young people. I introduced scouting and started with 4 boys in 2005. The community itself is quite poor and people here have a lower standard of living. I don't want the youth to be held back by this and want to help them make something of their lives.
"I started with soccer to get more people involved. We don't have a sponsor but we try our best and push to improve ourselves. The kits you gave were a blessing and we can't thank you enough.
"Jobs here are scarce. I don't work but really want to. I try to keep myself busy with scouting. We now have 80 scouts and cubs and we are doing well. This year we wanted to have a closing party but couldn't afford to pay for it, but we will push on and try and make things happen next year."
Dave is actually looking at going back again later this year, maybe October/November time, and Amanda has promised continued support for the cause by donating the girls' kits after this current season finishes.
If any other teams would like to donate kit they can contact Dave at: firstname.lastname@example.org. As you know the kits go to a truly worthwhile cause. The faces of the children in the photos show just how much the kits are appreciated. Any help offered by other teams would be great!
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