Wednesday 2nd October 2013
It came to my attention on Saturday that no building work was taking place at the school. A couple of the volunteers said that the project had run out of money. I was very concerned as the extra classrooms being built upstairs are desperately needed.
It is nigh on impossible to teach classes one and two as the dividing wall between the two classes is plywood, with doors that open randomly. I have described the difficulty in another blog.
I decided to find out from the director on Tuesday when work resumed following the election bank holiday. When we met he confirmed that the project had no funds to continue the building work.
I had already decided that I would offer a donation if he confirmed the lack of money. I asked him if £300 would be sufficient to get the project moving again. His face told me everything I needed to confirm this.
I arranged for the money to be sent to me via Western Union. This was done within half an hour of our conversation.
Fred went into action immediately. He contacted the building supervisor and arranged for a meeting between the three of us in which we discussed the most appropriate way to use the funds.
Making the building completely water-tight was not possible on this budget, but it would be possible to roof two of the classrooms. This would enable the floors to be concreted which would make them usable as soon as the concrete dried.
Work began on Wednesday morning as soon as I was able to collect the funds from Western Union. The process for doing this deserves its own blog.
Not only will two new classrooms become available, possible by the end of the week, there will be sufficient funds to have extra benches made, and to buy new blackboards.
By the middle of the afternoon the school was a hive of activity. The main builders were being assisted by two of the new volunteers, and at times the director himself. At the close of school many of the children stayed behind to help with the building work.
I am amazed at the difference my £300 made. It’s a project I recognise makes a real difference to the lives of many disadvantaged children. I know there a many such projects and I cannot support them all, but it’s hard not to support something when you observe the massive difference a small contribution can make.
If you’re interested in joining me in supporting this project I’d love to hear from you. Oh dear! I’m beginning to sound like one of those begging ads. But as the Tesco ad says – Every Little Helps.
October 4, 2013 at 2:32 pm
It must be a great feeling to have the project moving forward again! There is always another urgent need arising and so many times its impossible to do anything about it, so when you can help the situation it’s definitely worth celebrating. 🙂
October 4, 2013 at 7:29 pm
Yes Cat, I felt a great sense of relief that the work had begun again. It’s the rainy season here. Many centimeters fall in a few minutes so I was happy to know that the roof went on over the two classrooms we are trying to complete before I leave.
It may even be possible to teach in one of the rooms on Monday as they’re working on the building tomorrow.
A curious thing has happened since work recommenced on the school. It has been dry every day and only rained at nights. We said a prayer for dry weather on Wednesday, the director, the builder and myself. Regardless of one’s beliefs it does seem uncanny – because it had been raining every day in the daytime prior to this.
October 11, 2013 at 11:43 pm
Just catching up reading about your time in Cameroon, it sounds amazing and probably life altering. I would like to join you in supporting the project – whats needed?
October 12, 2013 at 10:12 am
Its great to hear from you. Yes, you’re right, my life has been altered in unexpected ways. Being here has helped me to re-prioritise the things that are important in my life. I’ve also really enjoyed being a classroom teacher again.
Although the project needs all kinds of educational equipment the most important thing for them at the moment is to get the building finished. Everyone here is working on it. The director, his staff and the children at the school.
The donations have been sent to me by Western Union and I’ve passed them on to the project. They are in the process of setting up an account into which international donations can be made directly. Things happen at a much slower pace here than there.
I leave on Tuesday morning but will still be able to receive donations and direct them to the project when I return. It may be more appropriate to wait till I get back now before making any donations.
I have told the staff here of your offer and they are overwhelmed by the generosity of people they have never met. I’m looking forward to catching up with you when I get back.