English footballer Jude Bellingham recently moved to German Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund from English Championship side Birmingham City. The 17-year- old youngster’s star is shining bright and currently, he is rated as one of the best young talents from England.
Away from the pitch, Bellingham has got a big heart. He is actively involved in supporting the Mustard Seed Project (MSP) in Mombasa, a small UK-registered charity that is building a school to provide quality education for children from deprived families.
The project also runs a feeding programme for nearly 300 children between the ages of 3-14 .
“MSP was registered in January 2009 following a visit by the founding trustees to an informal school in Mgongeni, Kenya.” one of the founding trustees of the project, Rita Fowler, told Nation Sport on Sunday August 30.
“The school had no resources and was being run by two young unqualified teachers. They had skills to offer and could not walk away. I am a qualified nurse/midwife and a primary school teacher. I now work full time on the project both in the UK and in Kenya.”
“Back in England, we managed to set up the charity and the initial plan was to support the school we first visited. Three months later when we returned to Mgongeni on a fact-finding mission, we realised that the problems were far more complex than we had first imagined. Just helping the children would not be enough. Since that time we have worked with both community and MSP’s own school, Miche Bora Primary School and have achieved a lot.”
Miche Bora started with 17 pupils selected from the poorest families in the region, but the number has now grown to 275.
MSP employs 12 qualified teachers, two teaching assistants, four cooks, three cleaners and two night security guards. It is also registered as a foundation in Kenya and also trains women to enable them set up small businesses by providing loans.
Jude has played a key role in raising funds for the Mustard Seed Project in Kenya and is keen on visiting Mombasa soon, according to Rita.
“It’s something I’m really passionate about. I got to know about the project in Mombasa through Some friends of the family. I know Kenya is not a very wealthy country and a lot of students go to schools without good facilities. It’s important for me to help that kind of community when I can. I’m trying to raise money and awareness through social media, which I think is something that I’m obliged to do being in the position that I am in,” Jude revealed in an interview with League Football Education.
“I’m really eager to get out there at some point to see what I can do directly to help. I want to be remembered, not just for football but for my actions off the pitch. The only way I can do that is by carrying on doing what I’ve started to set in motion. The ultimate aim is to make as much positive impact as I can. The project currently is to build as many classrooms as possible and I think as I grow, the charity will grow as well.”
Birmingham retired the number 17 jersey in honour of Jude who is already off the mark at Borussia Dortmund, having featured in Dortmund’s three pre-season victories over Rheindorf Altach, Austria Wien and MSV Duisburg.
The midfielder became one of the world’s most expensive 17-year-old when he joined Dortmund from Birmingham City for £25m (approximately Sh2.5 billion) in July. He is, however, not letting the figures get into his head as he remains grounded and eager to help the poor.
“The more attention I get from doing good things on the pitch, hopefully, that will crossover to the charity, so it’s definitely at the back of my mind as a driving factor for me to keep working hard and performing well so that the charity can benefit too,” Belligham narrated.
“The fundraiser is still not at the target that I’d like to hit, but we recently sent some kits out for the football team in school. I saw a picture and it gave me a great feeling seeing how happy they were and knowing how much it will help them going forward.”
“From an off the pitch point of view, it’s one of the best things I think I can do, so I’m just really excited to continue with that work. I want to keep maturing as a person and try to help people wherever possible, whether that’s with the charity or just being a mentor to others closer to home.”