In 2010 my good friend Jane came into the Portesham Primary School where I work as a Senior Teaching Assistant to talk to the children about Malawi. During her talk the children became fascinated in a child called Ellen who had an amputated leg. Jane told the children of Ellen’s story and also of the projects Jane had supported in Malawi with donations she had collected from friends over the past three years.
One example was a school in Chiwanga that had no roof and with use of the funds a roof had been constructed over the building to provide the children with a school they could use whatever the weather. The Key Stage Two children were amazed at how so little money could have such a huge impact on a community. Jane informed the children of another community in Malawi, a little village called Nguluwe, whose children were being taught under a fig tree in fine weather and on rainy days under a verandah of a local factory. A discussion with the children led to them asking how much it would cost for a school to be built. Jane informed them that around 394,000 Malawi Kwacha (£1600) would provide them with a school building that would cater for their needs.
Through emails with Jane’s link in Malawi, Maralise, we were shown photos of the children being taught under the fig tree which inspired the children’s fund raising display board, as seen in the photos. The photos also allowed the children to see just how fortunate they are to have things such as clean water in the classroon which are taken for granted in the UK. It gave them an understanding that if they needed water at the school in Nguluwe they would have to walk for up to 2 hours.
The Year Six children, who form the School Council, decided that they would like their chosen charity to be the Nguluwe school project and our journey to fund raise to build a school in Malawi began. The School Council decided that rather than buy something to for themselves with the money raised by the previous years children, which was the usual format, they would like to put it all into the Nguluwe school project. Fund raising events in the Autumn term were planned, with a successful cake sale in october being the first event. Unfortunately the second event, a Christmas Bingo was not as successful as it was cancelled due to the extreme weather of severe snow storms that hit the UK , the school was shut on the day the bingo had been arranged and with only limited dates available we rearranged. The event was only supported by 16 people, nevertheless it raised £160 and the evening was full of fun and laughter. Our Headteacher, Vicky Prior fully supported the fundraising by offering to donate all the profits raised from the ticket sales of the School Christmas Play, so by mid February the school has already raised £950.
Future events that have been planned are a carwash for the school community, with the local garage kindly agreeing to donate the car shampoo. A talent show called ‘Has Portesham Got Talent?’ in which children will be displaying their talents for the families and school community. Jane is being convinced she really wants to be a judge!! Finally the children will be doing a sponsored event of their choice in the Summer term.
Jane is going back out to Malawi in June and she will be making a video diary of the children of Portesham to take out to show the children of Nguluwe, to show them who has been suuporting them to build their school, the children will also write letters to the children in the school with a brief description of what life is like at school in the UK.
It is a fantastic opportunity for myself, the children and the school to build the link up with the teacher and children in Nguluwe and we hope to continue to financially support them over future years to provide them with resources to make their educational school experience the best they can have.