On Sunday we see six Glad’s House Caddies heading to Nairobi for the 2016 Barclays Kenya Open to work along side Professional Golfers playing in the European Tour event for the fourth time. With the support of the European Tour, European Tour Players Foundation and the European Tour Caddies Association our Caddie Programme has supported young people off the streets and into work as Golf Caddies at the exclusive Vipingo Ridge Golf Club since 2009.
Julius Simiyu is one of our Caddies heading to The Kenya Open. I have known Julius for over ten years now. Julius was one of the first young people I ever met living on the streets of Mombasa when I arrived as a Volunteer in 2005. When we met he had lived on the streets of Kenya for around 12 years and at that time he was living in a tree to protect himself from Police Round Ups. He regularly attended our Drop In Programme, Papasa, and often shared his stories of street life with us. He was hungry for opportunities to change but there were none for him due to his age. He had no contact with this family, had never been to school, was dependent on drugs and had no hope for the future; he had resigned himself to a life of homelessness.
In 2009, we offered Julius the opportunity to become one of the Glad’s House original Caddies; he jumped at the chance! Fast-forward 5 and a half years and this year he will be caddying in the Kenya Open for the fourth time. I am so incredibly proud of what Julius has achieved in his life. Every time I see him I am truly in awe of the man he has become. He has taken every opportunity he has been given and has transformed his life completely. He is now living independently, working full time, can read and write and is back in touch with his family. “I now send something small to my Mother every month,” he told me, “She can now be proud that she has a son living and working in Mombasa.”
Julius caddying for Phil Archer at the 2015 Barclays Kenya Open
We asked Julius how golf had changed his life; he reflected, “My heart is settled and I don’t even think of moving somewhere else. They say that in Town someone is free and can do what he or she wishes. That is not freedom. It’s just like a Housefly’s freedom; it can just be blown away any time. The real freedom is what we have here, at Vipingo. You can sit, think, reflect then decide for yourself the life you want to live. No one told me to quit sniffing glue, I just felt that it was not good for me and I have since left it. This is the real freedom.”
Julius is a true success story of the work Glad’s House does. There are many more young men and women in the Glad’s House Caddies Programme whose journeys are equally as inspiring and make us all equally as proud. For more details on Glad’s House Caddies Programme you can watch our short film here:
I hope you will join the Glad’s House Team and myself in wishing the 6 young people travelling to The Kenyan Open much success; in our eyes they are all winners and lets hope they carry for a winner too!
On behalf of all of us at Glad’s House both in Kenya and the UK, I would like to say a special thanks to the Board of Directors of Vipingo Ridge for sponsoring our Caddies to enable them to attend the 2016 Barclays Kenya Open.
We hope you will follow the progress of our Glad’s House Caddies and the Golfers they are supporting this week across our social media channels
Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/GladsHouse) , Twitter (https://twitter.com/GladsHouse) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/gladshouse/)