A former head girl at Morecambe Grammar School has devoted her life to Aids orphans in Kenya.
Mary Hinde, who was head girl at Morecambe Grammar School in the early 1950s and cycled to school every day, started charity Double Joy in 1994, having lived in Kenya for the previous 20 years.
On her retirement Mary decided she wanted to continue her life in Kenya and to find a way of continuing to serve the community in which she had enjoyed many happy years.
Mary’s son Eric Roseden said: “At first we were shocked as we’d assumed she would retire at 55 and probably come back to England.
“Then when we realised she was serious we were concerned as this is quite a big venture with potential for problems and an uncertain future.
“Mary has a very giving side to her but is also very pragmatic and conscientious.
“She understands when people need help and is not prepared to sit by and watch others suffer.
“This led her to foster two children when she had two of her own, move to Africa and eventually to recognise the orphans’ needs in her locality when she was retiring from her teaching career.
“She has helped countless others who are poor and suffering during her time in Kenya.”
Prior to the Aids pandemic the number of orphans in Kenya was relatively low and the children could be cared for by their relatives.
In recent years the number of orphans has become overwhelming.
The mothers usually die around the same time as the fathers and relatives are too burdened with their own hardship and poverty to care for more children in addition to their own.
In response to these difficulties Mary felt called to do something to relieve the suffering of the children in her local area.
In 1994, using skills gained from her school building project and money left in a legacy from her father, Mary bought land and built ‘from scratch’ Double Joy Children’s Farm. She named the orphanage after a Swedish proverb “Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow”.
In 2008, Mary asked Friends of Double Joy (FoDJ) to change their objectives to support some very vulnerable older local people who needed real support to keep them alive, resulting in Double Joy now also housing sevenolder people in a house in a corner of land adjacent to the main compound.
As well as the 90 children actually living at Double Joy there are a further 30 funded by the orphanage as they complete their further education at technical college or secondary school, after leaving Double Joy at age 15.
Mary has lived on site from the very beginning of Double Joy’s existence and is not paid by money sent by FoDJ.
Eric said: “Mary, now in her late 70s, is beginning to delegate as much of the day to day running as she feels able but is still very much ‘hands-on’, living on site and dealing with the immediate and longer term needs of her 150 dependents, children, both in situ and at boarding school, older residents and staff, all of whose livelihoods are determined by the success of Double Joy.
“The future of Double Joy is to carry on in the same vein for as long as there is a need to support orphans in this area, which looks like it will be for the forseeable future. “
Double Joy is majorly funded by the Lancaster-based Friends Of Double Joy (registered charity no. 1087172).
For more information visit www.double-joy.org.uk .