Northampton man's African family left homeless after fire destroys their compound

A fundraising appeal has been launched to rebuild a Northampton man's family home in Africa - after it was destroyed by an electrical fire.

Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 6:21 pm
An electrical pole destroyed Robert Johnson's family home in Africa, leaving 15 people homeless.

Earlier this month the family compound, home to 15 of Peter Johnson's family in the Sierra Leone capital Freetown, was obliterated when a falling electricity mast caused a blaze.

The destruction has left the seven children and eight adults living in the series of connected shelters there having to cram into the two small, corrugated iron rooms remaining.

With the rainy season just a month away, Mr Johnson and his wife Laura feel the family could be left in a dire situation unless new shelters can be built for them as soon as possible.

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Robert and Laura now live near St Andrew's Road in Northampton.

A crowdfunding page has been launched to try and net the family £2,500 to rebuild.

Laura Johnson, 34, of Bestwick street, Northampton, said: "We are really lucky that no one was hurt - but our priority now is to get them into some sort of safe shelter before the rainy season hits."

Laura met Peter in Sierra Leone when she was helping to set up a counselling service for women with HIV in the African country.

During her spell there she lived next door to the Johnson family compound and came to know Peter's mother, Fanta, 69, well.

Peter's family are now crammed into just two small corrugated iron shacks following the fire.

She was introduced to Peter in 2009 and - after hitting it off - the couple married in Sierra Leone in 2013.

They now both live in Northampton with their two-year-old daughter Holly.

Laura says the Johnson family are well known in the Freetown area for taking in homeless children and has urged anyone to donate to the fundraising page. A two-day old baby was among the family members affected by the fire.

"They would be helping this family rebuild their homes and lives - giving them the opportunity to start again," she said.

Peter's mother Fanta.

"They are such an amazing family, they do so much. His mum is always taking people in off the streets and looking after them - they really don't deserve this."

To make matters worse for the Johnson family, looters went in after the blaze died down to take some of the family possessions.

If you would like to make a donation to Mr Johnson's family - head to the fundraising page here.