A BASINGSTOKE vicar has visited Kenya to meet a child he has been sponsoring since 2009.

The Reverend Kelvin Taylor, of St Mark’s Church, in Homesteads Road, Kempshott, spent a week in the country with Compassion – a charity supporting children living in poverty, where he met the nine-year-old little boy, who shares his name.

Members of St Mark’s Church sponsor 60 children in Kenya, and a group of 10 visited earlier this year to see how their money was being used.

The charity’s workers provide information about food and hygiene and also offer medical intervention. Children are taught how to make money for themselves, by making mats and baskets to sell, and they are also given a meal once a week.

In Kenya, the project is run by East African Pentecostal Church, in an area called Kiugu, which is north east of Nairobi.

Rev Taylor said: “The welcome we had was incredible. We were greeted by all the women in their Sunday best all singing and dancing. It brought a tear to your eye.”

But it was not long before he realised the poor conditions most of the community were living in.

He said: “They are very much living subsistence lives – very much hand to mouth. Going on the home visits, the poverty is quite stark and in your face.

“For some of them, having that one meal on a Saturday is a big boost to their nutrition.”

The father-of-two, who visited Kelvin’s home, where he lives with his grandmother, said: “There was no electricity or running water. Sanitation is a wooden enclosure at the back of the house.

“There were a couple of rickety structures for keeping animals. Kelvin had his own little hut which was the size of a double bed and that was it.”

The 60-year-old added: “Some of the members of the church were really upset, simply because they couldn’t imagine people living in these kinds of conditions.”

Rev Taylor and the other members of his church who sponsor a child pay £21 a month to the charity.

On meeting Kelvin, who the vicar had written letters to before visiting Kenya, Rev Taylor said: “He was very shy. It took the best part of a week for him to open up a little bit.”

During the visit, the group also met young adults who had been supported by Compassion and had gone on to university.

They also visited a play park which the church had paid for.

Rev Taylor said: “It was very moving. You can’t be human and not be moved by the plight of kids struggling.”

He added: “The kids are so happy and enthusiastic. Living in such circumstances, it’s incredible.