Until just a few months ago pupils at the Monterroso secondary school didn't know who Lydia was, nor did Lydia know about this school in Estepona. Now, however, a link has been formed between the two and has meant that this 13-year-old, who lives in Kenya, now has a heart which works properly.
By making and selling craft items the pupils were able to raise the sum of 1,300 euros, which made it possible for Lydia to travel to Spain for urgent heart surgery.
Lydia was released from hospital last week and is now convalescing in Cordoba, at the home of the family who is looking after her while she is in Spain. The pupils are delighted that everything went well and are hoping that when she has recovered she will come and visit them at the school. Before that, however, the pupils who were most involved in the project and gave up their break times for it, will be taken on a trip to Cordoba to see her.
"For us, Lydia seems like one of our students. The Infancia Solidaria association has kept us constantly informed and sends us photos, so she is part of our everyday life now," says María José Robles, a guidance counsellor at the Monterroso school, who has been responsible for this initiative.
It all began with a technique María José uses called 'group missions', which is intended to inculcate values in the pupils through different challenges throughout the school year.
"We want to give them responsibilities and for them to play an active role in society. We want them to see that with effort and dedication, they can change the world," she explains.
In this case, the objective was to help somebody through the Infancia Solidaria group, and that is how Lydia came into the lives of the pupils at Monterroso school.
The first part of their mission was to make craft items and then sell them. "We wanted to make recycled objects, to encourage the pupils to recycle things in general. They all did what they were best at, and some of them taught others how to make certain items," says María José.
These handicrafts, which included necklaces and decorative items , were then sold at a 'market' at the school. In one week, and only during their breaks from lessons, these pupils raised 1,300 euros, which was nearly enough to bring Lydia and her mother to Spain.
During that week, an open day was held at the school, which helped with the fundraising. "We invited pupils and teachers from the Simón Fernández, María Espinosa, Santo Tomás de Aquino andGarcía Lorca schools, because they will be coming to Monterroso in the future. It was a way of showing them the school , and some of the things we do here," says María José.
Lydia arrived in Spain on 1 March and was met in Madrid by volunteers from Infancia Solidaria, who accompanied her to Cordoba. On the 3rd she was admitted to the Infanta Sofia hospital for tests and remained there until last Thursday. Now she is feeling much better, and will soon be able to enjoy a few days seeing something of Andalucía before going home.
Despite the money raised by the Monterroso school, there were some unexpected problems because at the last minute doctors told Lydia she was too ill to travel. Finally, extra oxygen was carried on the plane so she could come to Spain for her heart surgery. When she returns to Kenya, one thing is certain: she will be taking a little piece of Cordoba, and another of Estepona, with her.