How it all began
In 2004 on a research visit to Nigeria, Gary Foxcroft, a young Masters Student from Lancaster, was shocked by the number of young children who were not receiving an education. A chance meeting with the head teacher of a local Primary School, revealed that many children had been denied their right to attend school for at least 6 months, because state teachers had staged a permanent walk- out as a result of non-payment, by the State Government.
Motivated to help these children Gary and his wife Naomi, drew up plans to build a school of their own, that could offer an education to these children. Gary returned to his home city of Lancaster (in North West England) where he set about inspiring friends, family and the local community to support his vision by raising enough money to fund the build.
Within just a few short months, work began on the building of what is now Stepping Stones Model School, in Akwa Ibom State and the school opened its doors to children for the first time in 2006.
However, it was only when Gary and Naomi were placing children at the school that they became aware of the issue of child witchcraft accusations against young children. Many of the street children they were keen to place in school, were on the streets because they had been accused of witchcraft and subsequently rejected by their families, schools and local communities. Every one of these children were at abject risk of torture, trafficking, serious harm or death.
This appalling situation motivated Gary and Naomi to connect with other local child activist groups in the Niger Delta to provide a place of safety and security for children at risk. It is from this point that Safe Child Africa has grown and evolved into the UK based NGO that it is today, helping some of the most marginalised children in West Africa.