Schools and businesses in the borough are helping strengthen links in Africa.
The small remote town of Ndhiwa in Kenya is blighted by extreme poverty and Aids but is Tyneside’s unofficial twin town, thanks to the work of one former teacher.
Children play football wearing the strips of Whitley Bay FC Women, pupils attend school in uniforms from Longbenton Community College, while staff sport jackets and ties from Newcastle Building Society.
It is all thanks to Val Wilson and her small team of unpaid volunteers at Team Kenya, supported by generous donations from the north east.
She has now set a target to raise £10,000 to provide a solar lamp for all 1,000 children in her partner primary schools.
Val, who first visited Ndhiwa as part of a school visit 14 years ago when she was a geography teacher at Seaton Burn College, said: “You can’t help everyone, but you can help someone.
“We have built up very strong links with Ndhiwa and also have some great supporters here in the region.
“The people in Ndhiwa either have to use dangerous and expensive kerosene lamps or have to put their lives on hold after the sun goes down every night.
“Kerosene lamps not only emit noxious smoke that has the same effect as smoking 40 cigarettes a day, but also eat up a massive 20 per cent of their household budget, locking people into poverty.
Val is urging individuals, organisations, businesses and schools to help her reach her target.
To donate or to find out more about Team Kenya and fundraising visit www.teamkenya.org.uk/donate
Val added: “Solar lamps have not always been available in Ndhiwa, so families have not had the option to buy them.
“Even though they are now available, most families still cannot afford the up- front cost of purchasing one for themselves, as they have to spend the little money they have on daily necessities such as food and school fees.
“By buying a solar lamp for a family in Ndhiwa, you will allow them the freedom to continue to live their lives after the sun goes down.”
Val set up Team Kenya in 2008 and for the last six years has devoted her life to helping to empower young people and especially girls in Ndhiwa.
As well as sponsoring students through school, providing everything from their food to uniform and pens, the charity, largely funded by individuals, business and schools here in the north east, helps to enable the community to establish a sustainable future through enterprise and sustainable tourism.