Chris Lloyd may not have won the Barclays Kenya Open, but the tournament will be forever etched in his memory for non-golfing reasons.
The 20 year old Englishman finished tied 14th at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi, and once the tournament had finished he travelled to Mombasa as an ambassador for Glad’s House, a charity working to take children off the streets and into a safe environment where they train as golf caddies.
The organisation was founded by Englishman Dr Cliff Ferguson and his daughter Victoria in 2006, and so far 60 young people have been rescued from the streets of Mombasa and introduced to the Glad’s House Caddies Project at Vipingo Ridge Golf Course, 30 miles north of the city.
The charity is supported by the Tour Players' Foundation - the charitable arm of The European Tour and its members - and significant funds have been donated, enabling Glad's House to launch the Caddie Project, build accommodation and pay for a teacher to educate the young people.
Two caddies, Julius Amos Ndeta and Janet Otieno, were at Muthaiga during the tournament and caddied for Lloyd and Phil Archer in the pro-am. A few years ago Julius was living rough and addicted to drugs; now, thanks to Glad’s House, he regularly works as a caddie, lives in a house and sends money to support his family.
At Vipingo the day after the tournament, Lloyd held an informal putting clinic and chatted with Janet and Julius about their experiences during the Barclays Kenya Open. Both caddies said it was a week they would never forget.
Julius said: “For the first time people see and speak to me and it makes me feel very proud.”
Janet added: “I meet some very nice people who treat me as an equal.”
On Tuesday Lloyd visited the township of Magongo, where the Glad’s House is based. Located there are two of the charity’s ‘enterprise schemes’, a cyber café and a bicycle shop, and a football pitch, where about 30 children were playing.
The pitch allows daily sessions for up to 80 children to play sports, and afterwards they are given a meal. Advice, counselling and medical treatment are also available, and on site is also ‘The Base’, a temporary refuge where the young people can shower and wash their clothes.
At the moment The Base can house about eight youngsters at a time, but plans are afoot for a much bigger centre to be built, which will increase facilities considerably.
Tuesday afternoon was when Lloyd felt the full impact of what it is to be homeless in a city like Mombasa. He visited a place called Maboxini, an illegal squat for street children which was described by European Tour caddie Paul Cast, who visited in 2010, as ‘Hell on Earth’.
“I have no words,” said Lloyd upon seeing the squalor, poverty and deprivation and the suffering of the children through no fault of their own. “It was an unbelievable few days and I met some inspiring people. It puts everything into perspective.”