Our interview with edukid founder chris turner

October 8 2018 | Blog

"Educate a boy and you educate a man. Educate a girl and you educate a family." Chris Turner, CEO and Founder of Edukid. 

We have set up our 'One for One' programme in partnership with Edukid and we interviewed Chris to let you all know a little bit more about this fabulous organisation and the inspirational man behind it.

Tell us a little bit about you.
My profession is a Youth Worker. I was trained in detached Youth Work with the focus on young people who are marginalised or struggling in life. I build long term relationships with them and try to help them address the issues they face as well as explore their own identity so that they can grow into the people they were made to be.

When did you set up Edukid and what prompted you to start?
I took a group of young people I was working with from Oxford, over to Cambodia to volunteer in a project in a rural village on the Meekong River. The village had no electricity or clean drinking water. In fact villagers washed, toileted and drank from the Meekong. At the end of the two weeks we asked how we could help (imagining they would ask for a well). Instead they asked for help sending their children to school. I realised that the parents were essentially putting their own health at risk by choosing education over the clean drinking water and this led me to realise how people consider education as a long term solution to poverty.

What drives you and your mission?
I am a Christian so I definitely feel this is what God has called me to do. I love helping people and hate injustice. The idea that I can link people from the UK to children living in poverty abroad is an amazing feeling.
Seeing sponsors meet the child they are helping and watching them realise the difference they helped make to a person is an incredible thing to behold. Just seeing a person realise this and the utter joy they feel is exceptionally moving/spiritual. For me personally it some how encapsulates the purpose of living.

Who inspires you?
Lots of people inspire me. I meet people all the time who have a better balance to life than me, or who I learn from. Everyone is inspiring in their own way. Just meeting people and connecting with them is inspiring.
Jesus inspires me. Not because I'm some kind of crazy Christian, but just because his stories are all about loving people, standing up to injustice and believing in something better. It gives me a kind of inner strength that I guess most people would label as faith.

Tell us about some of your proudest/ most emotional moments on this journey.
Each February I take groups of young people out to Uganda. One of the things we do is visit families in distress. Often this involves starvation and homelessness. Initially the young people are shocked and emotional by the experience, but then we ask the question of "what is our role as global citizens in this?". Usually this leads to building them a home, or buying goats.

Home visit in Uganda - house burnt down, possessions stolen, family starving. Group rebuilt the banda and purchased mattresses, jerry cans, etc. They purchased food and a goat.

Last year a 16 year old girl called Abi was part of our group. She wanted to sponsor a child to start school and help them through their education. You could just see in her eyes she felt the plight of the family, but it wasn't guilt moving her to help, it was something from deep within. The moment I introduced her to her child and we explained to them that Abi was offering was pay for their education was a moment I will never forget. Abi had seen the situation, realised the difference she could make and was profoundly joyful she could help. At the same time the child she was helping was coming from a place where hope had left them a long time ago. To see that hope come back in their eyes as they heard about Abi's help and stood face to face - well it's what life is all about. I think I have only cried a handful of times in my life, but that was one of them.

Child in the above home visit being told that Abi is sponsoring them to go to school.

What have been the biggest challenges?
There have been many. The contrast between the huge amount of need in our projects and the income we have to work with is always frustrating.
Finding a balance between work and family is a challenge.
The biggest challenge I face would be in Palestine. We work with children in a refugee camp in the West Bank and children suffering from trauma in Gaza. So many people are not able to listen to their need or hear their story because of having either preconceived ideas or being confused about what to think. For me children are the same the world over, regardless of their nationality, faith or gender. Every child has rights and deserves to be treated equally.

How can people help/ get involved?
It's so simple. They just need to visit our website where they can see interviews with the children and learn more about Edukid. They can sponsor a child and they can come on trips with us to meet their child. It's all about helping people explore their role as Global Citizens in which ever way they wish.

What are your plans, hopes for the future of Edukid?
There are three main plans:
Firstly, to work in more UK schools promoting our Global Citizenship programme, where we educate students on issues such as poverty and empower them to explore their role in addressing it. Our hope is to create a new generation that realise their potential.
Secondly, to support new projects around the world that help more children living in poverty or conflict.
Lastly, our aim and hope is to help create a world where Edukid is no longer needed.

If women ruled the world? (This is our signature question that we ask everyone who we interview ;)
We would solve many of the worlds biggest issues much more quickly.
Educate a boy and you educate a man. Educate a girl and you educate a family. This old proverb/saying is so true.
So many girls are denied the same rights to an education and opportunities in life as boys. We try and address this balance in who we support in our projects.
If women ruled the world ............who knows what it would be like, but I'd like to live in that world because many of the issues we face could be better addressed.

Srey da a child from our project now runs Edukid's school programme in Cambodia - over 2,000 children. It's a story where we seek to empower girls into leadership. Her film is on the website. You can watch it here.


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