For a short profile on Bishop Jeremiah Kibobi please click here

An interview with Lady Cottesloe, Independent on Sunday, Interview by Peter Stanford

Lady Cottesloe has three children and seven grandchildren and lives in London.Here is how it all started.

'My daughter, Flora, lived in Kenya and was married to Dan Miyonga, a Luo tribesman and noted artist. At the end of 2001 he died at the age of 39, leaving their two daughters, Rose and Poppy, without a father. As I sat with him on his deathbed and looked at the children, I thought, 'My goodness, whatever would happen to those children if they didn't have their mother and me.' And so the seed of an idea to work with orphan children in his memory was sown.

I went back to Kenya at Easter 2002 to stay with my daughter and went with her to a christening at a friend's house in Nairobi. And that is where I met Kibobi. He came with a choir from his school to perform the christening. Afterwards, we talked. There was something in his personality, his energy, that drew me to him. He's got a glow inside him. I told him I wanted to go to church on Easter Sunday but not with a lot of white people. I wanted to go to a proper African church. So he invited me to his.

Off I went the next day to Visions of Glory, a little tin shack made of corrugated iron, with a beaten-earth floor. It was packed. The service went on for three hours and the whole thing " especially the singing " was just amazing. I was the only white person there and the children were coming up and touching my skin to see if the white went up my arms. After the service, he invited me to visit the high school that he runs for poor and orphaned children, many of whom have lost their parents to Aids.

I think Kibobi and his work made such an impact on me because of my own history. When I was two I was left on the steps of a National Adoption Society home. I was lucky. A couple from the West Country adopted me but I understand how it feels to be abandoned as a child. I never forget my background.

What I saw that day in Kenya fitted in with my wish to work with children after my son-in-law's death. And out of that has evolved Dan's College, run by Kibobi for youngsters who have left his high school, as a place where they can learn practical skills and set themselves up in business. I raised the money to establish it through the charity, Worldwide Silver Lining, which I set up. I was helped by, among others, Prince Charles and Ringo Starr.

Kibobi and I have become great friends. He calls me Mama, which is lovely. He is now like another son to me. We email constantly. I am very conscious of not being some upper-class English Lady Bountiful telling poor Africans what to do. My role is to raise the money. He runs the college. We're partners.'

Bishop Jeremiah Kibobi was ordained as an Anglican priest in Kenya in 1988. In 1996 he set up his own independent church and school for Aids orphans, on the outskirts of Nairobi. He is married and has three sons.

'Just before Easter 2002 I was invited by a white couple in Masai Lodge to perform a christening in their home. I took with me 12 of my students from the high school I had set up to offer free education to extremely poor and orphaned children. We have so many children orphaned by Aids in Kenya. The children sang at the christening. I love singing. I am the choirmaster. Then Gloria came in. She was very much impressed by the choir. She started asking me what I did and who I was. So I told her about the work at Ongata Rongai, 16km south of Nairobi. And she was impressed and then she told me she wanted to come the next day, Easter Sunday, to a church where there would be no white people, an African church. I invited her to Visions of Glory.

I'd never met anyone like her before. In Kenya you find that white people have no business with black people. Gloria gave me an audience. She put her seat next to me and started talking very seriously. No one white had ever come that close to me before. Whites in Kenya see blacks as dirty, uncultured and only to be used as chamber boys and all that. And here was Gloria wanting to come to my church. I had never seen a white person in our church before.

We were so happy when she came to our small, tin church. Then I asked her to the closing ceremony of our high school. She is just fabulous. You ask her to come and she says 'Yes, I'll be there. Give me the directions.' And then she turns up on time and speaks so well to our students and gives them their prizes. She has great love for children.

In November of 2004, Gloria came back to Kenya to see her family and visited us. That's when she told me about her idea for Dan's College to follow on from our high school. I got the idea and could see at once that it could work. At that time I had students who had left high school living with me because they had nowhere to go and nothing to do. Such a college would give them a chance to be self- reliant.

I call Gloria Mama because I love her. In the Kenyan tradition when you call someone Mama, it means that you respect them as if they were your mother. That is how close she is to me.

Gloria has many qualities. She has a great love for the needy. She is not self-centred. She will do anything to benefit others. She'll give you anything as long as she is convinced you are good. That is what I have seen in her. She trusts me because she can see the results of my work. She doesn't give me commands. She leaves me with the discretion to do what I want to do. And so far it has worked. There's nothing we have disagreed on'

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