|Former Tanzania street child Sospeter Okoth.|
04 January 2007
HE has endured unimaginable difficulties as a street child fending for himself in Tanzania – but last weekend young Sospeter Okoth was “man of the match” as a special guest of Norwich City FC.
By the time he was nine, both of his parents had died from Aids, and Sospeter was forced to fend for himself, begging for scraps as he made his away across the fourth poorest nation in the world in search of an education.
That was until he came to the notice of Norfolk-based charity Street Child Rescue Tanzania, whose founder Vicky Robertson paid for a secondary-school education in which he has so far excelled.
Now 21, Sospeter is about to start his A-levels in Tanzania, runs a boarding house for the charity where he looks after 10 former street children, and finds time to play football for a team in the equivalent of the English Championship.
For the last month, he has been in south Norfolk as the guest of Mrs Robertson, where he has spent time at Langley School in Loddon, Diss High School, UEA and St John’s College, Cambridge.
“It is so rich here and poor back home and the reason is that everything has come from education,” said Sospeter.
“If everyone had the same standard of education in Tanzania things could be so different.
“I’ve come here to improve my English; I want to return and study law here after my A-levels so I can then return to Tanzania, be respected and eventually become a politician and change things there for street children.”
Mrs Robertson, who set up the charity four years ago and now helps a series of teenagers by giving them the opportunity to pursue a secondary school education, said she had been overwhelmed by the response of people who had met Sospeter.
She said pupils at Langley School had gone out of their way to make him feel welcome and were now determined to raise money for Sospeter and other street children.
But the highlight of the visit came on Saturday, when Sospeter was Bryan Gunn’s guest of honour at Carrow Road, featured in the programme and met all the players – inspiring them to their 1-0 victory over QPR.
“They gave me a shirt with my name on, showed me around and treated me like a king,” said Sospeter. “It was a wonderful day.”