Derby Grammar School has smashed its target to raise £50,000 in 10 years to help improve the lives of schoolchildren in Africa.
The school launched the Tanzania fundraising project in 2013, with the goal of raising £50,000 by 2023 for Gedeli B School in Mwanza but students and staff have already raised £83,000 after just five years.
The aim of the project, which has been shortlisted for a national award, is to supply Gedeli B School with educational resources, such as pens and paper and even actual classrooms, and students from Derby Grammar visit every year.
When the project was launched in 2013, Gedeli B School had 1,357 children in five classrooms – an average of 270 children per class – they had no water, electricity, text books, sports or educational equipment.
With the £83,000 raised so far, Derby Grammar School has built four classrooms, installed electricity and running water, built toilet blocks, supplied classroom equipment and specific resources for children with special needs, provided sanitary items for older girls in the school, supplied every child with school books, pens and pencils and given the headteacher a laptop, printer and a photocopier.
Dr Ruth Norris, Head at Derby Grammar School, in Littleover, said the school was extremely proud of what had been achieved in Mwanza.
She said: “We are extremely proud to have forged this link with Gedeli B School and to have helped improve the lives of children there. The visit to Mwanza is an unforgettable and often humbling experience for Derby Grammar School students, and our partnership has a life-changing impact on the children at Gedeli B School. We hope that it continues for many years to come.”
This year, 26 Year 12 students visited Gedeli B School where they taught lessons and improved classrooms. They also visited an orphanage for children who attend the school and a home for babies who have been orphaned. Students could also choose to either go on safari or climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.
Sam Veitch was one of the 26 pupils. He said: “We’re aware of the trip all the way through school and we all look forward to it. We had to raise £4,000 each to fund it and I raised £500 of that by walking the West Highland Way.
Freya Lockley said it was the trips to the orphanages that affected her most.
She said: “Going to the orphanages was really emotional, seeing children who had been abandoned perhaps because they were disabled, mixed race or albino.
“Having been out there it confirmed for me that I want to study midwifery at university because a lot of universities have the option of spending part of the course in Africa. I came back absolutely sure that’s what I wanted to do so for me, the trip has been life-changing.”
Matt Simpson said: “I think the children at the school loved having us there because they have such big class sizes they wouldn’t normally have that level of attention and they really wanted to learn. Being out there was quite surreal and seeing how different the world is was quite overwhelming.”
Sam Cochrane added: “It’s something that we always talked about in the junior school and something that I’ve always wanted to do. I couldn’t wait to go. Obviously it’s a very different culture but it’s not worse, it’s a very happy place. It’s vibrant and people there have a different way of doing things and they are very inventive.”
Arvin Suddhi said: “The trip is probably the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. My brother had been before but I couldn’t imagine how much of an impact it would have on me. We worry about so much and look at how much we have got. It’s definitely the people you are with who make you happy.”
Vicky Charnock, Head of Upper School, and April Sly, Head of Junior School, organise the trip for the students.
Mrs Charnock said: “I think what we have done is amazing, it’s like a different school compared to when we first started going out there. It’s fantastic to see the new classrooms that we’ve built and the toilet block and just the overall impact that we’ve had.”
The school will find out in November if it has won the Independent Schools Association Award for Outstanding Contribution for International Understanding.
Students’ next trip to Mwanza in the summer of 2019 is already being planned, if you are an organisation or individual who would like to donate or support the schools’ activities contact April Sly at email@example.com or visit the Tanzania Project page