Mang’ang’a Primary School is in North-West Kenya and Widmer End School has been linked with it for several years, via Holy Trinity church in Hazlemere. In that time we have learnt much about the difficulties involved in educating children in Africa.
Teachers have very little, if any resources. Children have ill health – but not a cold. No. Malaria, TB and cholera are the main reasons for children being absent from school. Primary education is ‘free’, but children must have a uniform to attend, and the cost of that is beyond many families. Many children are orphaned and taken in by often elderly relatives who may have several young children to care for and certainly cannot afford any school expenses. School buildings are often in disrepair (a health and safety nightmare), and have insufficient space.
3 times a year, teams of people from the church go to the area to visit and help and we always send parcels of goodies with them. Lots of those have been ex-Widmer End pupils and even a member of our staff. Our children organised some fundraising, and just by collecting loose change from friends and family, were able to raise enough money to have 2 x 2000l water tanks installed, buy sacks of maize to be planted and provide food for the hungry children arriving in the mornings and install a new, more efficient and safer stove for the ‘kitchen’, replacing the open fire.
We have also funded the building of new toilets for the pupils and the staff, tables and chairs for a classroom and 3 x teachers desks. In 2017, we enabled them to buy a cow and build a shed for it! In August 2018, the cow gave birth to healthy heifer, which was passed on to another school/widows group/family and in 2019, she produced another calf.
Every year, at the end of our Walk to School Week, we collect trainers and plimsolls that our children have outgrown and send them over to our friends at Mang'ang'a. They are thrilled! Some of them walk barefoot to school, such is their desire to get and education.
In the 2017-18 academic year our fundraising was focussed on providing resources for their youngest, nursery children, and providing school uniforms for local children to enable them to attend school. They were able to buy chairs for every nursery child and kit them out in uniform.
Since then, we also raised sufficient funds for them to be able to have a perimeter fence installed around the school grounds with a sturdy entrance gate, to keep the children safe.
In 2020, our plan had been to fund raise for more student toilets. Such has been the success of Mang'ang'a school and its growing popularity, that the toilets that were built 4 years ago are now insufficient for the number of pupils atttending! Unfortunately, Coronavirus has put a stop to that, which is a great sadness.