By Kevin Gotts
Early in September, former Norwich Union and Aviva boss Richard Harvey and his wife, Kay, flew out to Africa to begin an extraordinary gap year.
The couple, who used to live just south of Norwich in Yelverton, and attended St Mary's parish church, were following the lead of their daughter Jenny whose Christian faith inspired her to spend a gap-year in Uganda working with Aids victims. It was a visit to the village where she was working which started them thinking.
Since September they have been in Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique with development charity Concern Universal, which supports initiatives that improve the daily lives of people living in some of the world's poorest communities.
The couple have been working in rural communities on a range of projects including the installation of sustainable clean water supplies, micro-finance programmes and education in schools on issues such as HIV/Aids, health and sanitation.
Richard said: “We've been in Kenya for a few weeks now and have visited far flung schools and communities which are surviving by a thread on the School Feeding Programme. In most cases, the children get at best one meal a day, but there are lots of problems with the process and our job is to find out first hand what they are and see what we can do to bring about change.
“Schools are trying to help themselves but water is the key ingredient. It's just so scarce that planting a school "garden" or keeping livestock is often impossible. There's been a drought since last January as global warming makes the rains less predictable,” said Richard.
“All the schools we have been to cook over an open fire in one or two big pans, but wood is so scarce the children have to bring a piece each to school in the morning.
“Despite all the hardship the children are fantastic, so bright. I tried the 11 year old maths test paper and it seemed more like GCSE.”
Kay is also teaching two days a week in a remote village school which gives her a first-hand insight into how things really work.
Richard and Kay's own strong Christian faith was a key factor in the decision they made to spend a year in Africa.
"All of our lives we have had an active faith," said Kay. "I have been working with the School of Urban Mission so I am able to teach English as a second language… and Africa is on our hearts."
Since moving to London a few years ago, the couple has mainly been involved at Holy Trinity, Brompton. "There has been a lot of prayer support and I am sure they will be continuing interceding for us," said Kay.
Pictured above are Richard and Kay Harvey in Kenya.