Stuart Wilson founded Zest4Kidz with his wife Magi in 2006. Stuy had previous experience working with charities overseas while operating in Ireland as a businessman. He was at that time general manager for Taylor Made and Adidas in Ireland having had a prominent playing career in rugby. After meeting Magi in 2003 he finally took the plunge with Magi’s encouragement to set up Zest4Kidz in June 2006.
How did Zest4Kidz Begin?
Remember the cartoon character Popeye? When his girlfirend Olive Oil was persued by Brutas, Popeye would eventually say, “I CAN’T STAND IT!” The spinach would follow and Popeye would take action at 100 miles an hour to sort out the problem! I had a Popeye moment one day while watching a TV programme about child prostitutes and sex slaves and simply couldn’t stand to watch what I was seeing. It repulsed me, had me shouting at the TV and on my knees crying at the same time, 5 or 6 year old girls being forced to have sex with clients, sometimes up to 20 clients a day. I realised I could either turn over the channel on the TV or force myslef to sit through the programme, knowing that if I did I would be compelled to take action.
“I had a Popeye moment”
Zest4Kidz was immediately set up and contacts were made in some of the areas and countries where we “couldn’t stand it no more” and took action at 100 miles and hour! We set about making contacts in 3 main areas, firstly after seeing the plight of child soldiers and sex slaves in Africa, shortly after folowed by the childrens prison system in Eastern Europe and more recently the child prostitutes and vulnerable slum children in India.
What keeps you going?
I simply find it completely and totally unacceptable that children should suffer as our kids suffer, abuse, neglect and torture are things I will fight against while God gives me the strength and energy to do so. Children being housed in prisons in Easten Europe, children as young as 5 or 6 in Africa abducted and forced to kill siblings and parents and then fight in an army or kids raped and tortured for the sex trade in India? This breaks my heart in two and requires like minded people to come out and fight against it. The only thing to fight against hatred with is LOVE and that is our sword, with God as our shield and protecter.
Zest4Kidz has amazing staff and volunteer base who are fighting this great fight with us. The sense of adventure we all have is astounding, we really love the kids we reach and we love the family of Zesties who we stand together with.
Our mission – Fight injustice. Love as Family. Empower Children – is what we live by and one day we truly believe we will see a time when our vision of living in a world where every child will know they are loved realized.