Orphans in Ivory Coast are set to celebrate a merry Christmas with a little help from Liverpool defender Kolo Toure.
The 35-year-old has been a regular financial contributor to an orphanage in Yopougon, Abidjan, since 2012 but hopes to be able to provide an extra-special festive boost this year.
“I’ve been looking after them by providing food and a small house, which is not great to be honest but is something which can help them because Crystal (the woman running the project) has about 100 kids,” Toure said.
“I am lucky that I am able to help them. Every month I send money to ensure they can have a good life and I will try to do that as long as I can provide.
“We are not perfect but if you can still help people you help them and I will always help people who are honest and those kids have done nothing.
“I think of them as my kids and to provide for them every month is nothing. I love to see them happy, that is most important.
“Everything I do on my own and I’ve never really talked about it but with Christmas coming it is a good time to do something.
“With Christmas coming I’ve tried to organise a Christmas party for them.
“I’d like to organise one or two big events, like a dinner, to raise money for a nice place for them to live and invest money to generate more for them.”
Unicef figures from 2012 showed there were 1.3million orphans among a population of 20million in Ivory Coast, a country with a life expectancy at birth of just 53 according to World Health Organisation data.
Over two thirds of the country are either Muslim or Christian and the orphanage Toure supports helps all denominations – hence the reason for his Christmas party idea.
“There are different children from different ethic and religious backgrounds,” added the 34-year-old.
“The Muslim religion teaches us to be nice people and to try to help people, Christian or Muslim it doesn’t matter.
“The most important thing is to be nice with everyone you can and then everyone will respect you.
“It is a good thing for me to just try to help all those kids.”