Festival Republic Pedals For Orphans

Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn and a dozen of his staff are cycling 270 miles across East Africa to raise money for Kenyan orphans.

The London-based festival promoter’s team, which includes The Big Chill creative director Katrina Larkin and artist and guest liaison chief Sharon Reuben, will join more than 50 cyclists pedaling their way from Nairobi along the old colonial route across the Rift Valley to Lake Victoria. They are to set off Nov. 5 and aim to complete the trek in five days.

“Making Tracks” is organised by Kenyan Orphan Project and involves cycling an average of 52 miles per day through hilly terrain and in blistering heat.

The final destination is Kisumu, a port city in western Kenya, where KOP runs a night shelter for street children.

Benn and the other cyclists, who are mainly doctors and medical students, aim to raise £100,000 for KOP projects. KOP was started by three Nottingham University medical students in 2001 in response to global problems of poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, particularly in the very deprived areas of Western Kenya.

Benn is a longtime KOP supporter and last year Festival Republic donations funded the rebuilding of a primary school near Kisumu. The company is currently funding the £150,000 rebuilding of another at Alendu.

Working in partnership with KOP and One Water, which supplies water for the company’s festivals, Festival Republic has also helped fund the installation of water pumps at orphan feeding centres in Ombeyi and Kochogo.

In May Benn joined KOP trustees on a visit to mark the completion of the first two water projects.

Festival Republic raises more than £250,000 each year through guest donations and arena entrance collections at UK festivals including Reading & Leeds, Latitude and The Big Chill. It also has Electric Picnic in Ireland and Hove Festival in Norway.

Donations may be made at justgiving.com/melvinbenn or by sending a cheque made out to “Kenyan Orphan Project” to Festival Republic’s office at 35 Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7AU.