Every Day, the Kids Go to Sleep at 2 O'clock. I Asked the Teacher Why. She Told Me a Lot of Them Come from Single Parent Families and Their Mothers Are Prostitutes Who Go out at Night and Leave Them Alone. They're So Scared They Stay Awake All Night ... They Come to School for a Safe Sleep LITTLE WONDER McPhee Was by the Plight Little Ones in; HUMANITARIAN HERO FORMER AIRDRIE ACE PROVES A REAL DIAMOND

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), April 23, 2015 | Go to article overview

Every Day, the Kids Go to Sleep at 2 O'clock. I Asked the Teacher Why. She Told Me a Lot of Them Come from Single Parent Families and Their Mothers Are Prostitutes Who Go out at Night and Leave Them Alone. They're So Scared They Stay Awake All Night ... They Come to School for a Safe Sleep LITTLE WONDER McPhee Was by the Plight Little Ones in; HUMANITARIAN HERO FORMER AIRDRIE ACE PROVES A REAL DIAMOND


Byline: DAVID McCARTHY d.mccarthy@dailyrecord.co.uk

IT was watching kids curl up and go to sleep in a Kenyan classroom that hit Brian McPhee hardest. Sleeping in their school because they were too scared to close their eyes at night.

This footballer turned firefighter gave up his holidays last year to travel to Africa to try to make a make a difference to people's lives. Little did he know how attached he would become to the children of Nakuru.

After a two-week charity assignment to work as a classroom assistant in a churchrun school, this dad of two, who had been immersed in the hard world of football for almost 20 years as a prolific striker with Airdrie, Livingston and Hamilton, had to return to his job as a Glasgow fireman.

But on the flight home the 44-year-old knew he'd return to the children he'd left behind. Kids who now had Celtic tops donated by pals in the game. And goalie gloves from former Partick Thistle keeper Kenny Arthur. Boys and girls who had nothing before he and fellow Scots Eddie McGaw and Lori Gallagher, joined by an English girl, Laura Birtles, arrived at their school last November.

Now McPhee is trying to raise the PS1700 he needs to go back to help a little bit more. This time he'll be more ready for the sights that moved him to tears on occasion.

He said: "It was hard but it was the experience of a lifetime. It all started when I played with the Dukla Pumpherston charity team and we all got a text from Eddie asking if anybody would be interested in going to Kenya to do some charity work.

"My own kids are now older, 18 and 25, so that wasn't holding me back and it just fell in with my holidays. I contacted Eddie and spoke to my partner, Jennifer, telling her I really wanted to do something like this. She just said, 'Go for it'.

"I wasn't aware I'd be going to work in a school but I knew I was going to Nakuru in Kenya to work with children. I was basically a teacher's assistant for two weeks. But I did a lot of football-related stuff with the kids. A lot of my friends donated kit and equipment. They were soon running around in football strips and training bibs, kicking the small footballs I'd taken with me."

But it wasn't all fun and football. The squalor the children lived in shocked him. As did the lives they were forced to lead. They didn't just come to school, known as the Walk Centre, to learn. It was also their sanctuary.

He said: "There were 150 of them in the school and they all lived on landfill sites around the town. Rubbish dumps basically.

"The school is a release for them because of the conditions they live in. I must admit there were times I had to have a few minutes on my own to have a wee cry.

"The first couple of days went past in a blur because of all the excitement of just arriving and everything being new to us. But when you settle down and begin to realise the squalor that these kids are growing up in, it's hard to take. …

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Every Day, the Kids Go to Sleep at 2 O'clock. I Asked the Teacher Why. She Told Me a Lot of Them Come from Single Parent Families and Their Mothers Are Prostitutes Who Go out at Night and Leave Them Alone. They're So Scared They Stay Awake All Night ... They Come to School for a Safe Sleep LITTLE WONDER McPhee Was by the Plight Little Ones in; HUMANITARIAN HERO FORMER AIRDRIE ACE PROVES A REAL DIAMOND
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