Busy mum Nicki Skinner is leaving home and work duties behind for a trip of a lifetime to help desperate children and families in Africa.
The 31 year-old from Cuckfield is flying out today as a volunteer with UK-based charity The Coco’s Foundation.
Set up just two years ago by Sussex businessman Chris Connors, the foundation is funded entirely by donations and every penny goes to one of its main projects:
Build4TheFuture provides homes and shelter for child-headed families
Mumma Deb’s food programme – to feed children
Clothes4Clothes – recycles textiles to boost local clothing economies
Nicki, a live-in night manager at Cherry Tree Kennels and Cattery in Balcombe, will be part of a Build4theFuture project helping to construct a home for a child-led family in South Africa.
She said: “It’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like this and the first time I’ve been to Africa, so I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’ve been warned about the appalling conditions in which many of these children and villagers live, so it could be quite a culture shock.”
Nicki has raised £2,500 to pay for building materials for the home she will be working on and to pay her travelling costs, accommodation and food.
She said: “In the past year I’ve held a collection at work, and sold items to raise the money and people have been very generous.”
During her two-week trip she will be helping to build and paint a basic home for a child-led family.
Nicki said: “Some of the children are living in huts with rain, water and even poisonous snakes coming in and they have no beds or blankets.
“It’s hard to imagine living like that when in the UK we have so much. I just want to do my bit to help with the Coco’s Foundation which is doing fantastic work out there.”
The foundation was set up in 2010 by three hairdressers from West Sussex. Its aim is to make a positive difference to those who live in some of the most desperate conditions. More than £45,000 has been raised for improvements to community facilities, new homes and daily meals for orphans and needy villagers.
Trustees Chris Connors, Ed Purdew and Debs Spraget run at least two trips to Africa each year and volunteers can raise funds and join them on practical work and support projects.