The team consisted of four teachers from Great Barr School (me, Miss Crook, Miss Minshull, Miss Sorrell), four Great Barr students (Hannah, Emily, Aimee, and Tara-Jay), five staff from Greenholm School and four students from Lichfield Cathedral School.
The trip was a huge success! We completely refurbished three classrooms, painting them and fully resourcing them with tables, chairs, toys, a whiteboard and a library in the back of each room. Until you see a classroom in a country like Sierra Leone, you can’t quite believe it. The standard classroom might have one text book between 50 or more children, and there may be a blackboard and sufficient benches for the students to sit on, but nothing else. It was our aim to use old equipment which our schools no longer needed to turn these three classrooms into something which we lucky people in the UK would recognise as a classroom. And we did it!
It’s not only about the equipment in the classrooms; the students don’t have the money for the basic equipment our children are expected to bring with them every day, equipment our children can easily buy for a few pence from the newsagents or from our i-Shop. So, we gave each of the 800 or so students a school bag and a pencil, along with a mosquito net to keep them and their families safe at night. We were also able to give some of them sweatshirts.
The container which we had packed in Great Barr arrived safely on the Tuesday. The bulk of the mosquito nets were distributed at the hospital to the under 5s and pregnant women - the highest risk groups – during a series of health education sessions so that the people would understand more about how to protect themselves from this dreadful disease. The doctor at the hospital told us that he believes our nets may well reduce malaria deaths by up to 50%, saving many thousands of lives.
The students and staff were outstanding ambassadors for their schools and for our campaign. They worked tirelessly in extreme conditions in the refugee camp. The week finished with a football match between Project 3580 and a refugee camp team. We were 4-0 down at halftime but our superior fitness showed and we pulled it back to 4-4, only to be undone by a late winner although video replays showed a clear offside!!!!
So, we’ve built and equipped an IT suite in the rainforest, we’ve refurbished and equipped three classrooms, and we’ve bought and distributed 4,000 mosquito nets. And in the meantime, our own children have learnt what it means to be a ‘global citizen’, to do something to help others and take responsibility for making our world a better place.
There is still work to do! Our next project is to rebuild the other classroom blocks in the school, so watch this space and keep supporting our campaign.
by Mr Morland
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