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One of the kingdom’s leading schools has launched an initiative with the goal of spreading the gift of education to a troubled nation, assisted by big-hearted pupils participating in various fundraising events.
St Christopher’s School is taking part in the Go Global Cambodia Project, in association with the UK-based United World Schools’ charity, which aims to build a sustainable educational institute in the post-conflict Asian country.
Funds have been raised in order to build the Ka Narng Ket School, located in the Lumphat District of Ratanakiri, one of the poorest areas of Cambodia. A shocking 75 per cent of inhabitants in the north-eastern region are illiterate and have had no previous access to education.
Annabel Brandreth, Reception Year leader and project co-ordinator, believes that after hearing about the plight of those who have suffered through the turmoil of war years in Cambodia, supporting them was the only logical choice.
She said: “Our Principal, Ed Goodwin, had come across the United World School’s project and we immediately considered getting involved in their work in a country which would have been closer and easier to visit, but they were not quite ready to begin and so rather than delay our involvement we went with Cambodia.”
Annabel Brandreth continued: “We challenged each of our year groups to look at ways to raise funds, with many smaller collections taking place at the initiative of our pupils. We committed to raising an initial total of BD10,000 by July 2015, with a further BD2,500 every year for three years after that.
“Funds raised would cover the cost of the materials and labour needed to build the school and also allow for solar panels, toilet facilities, a community well, classroom resources and sports equipment to be bought. Funds would also cover the cost of teacher-training and salaries for two teachers.”
The response from pupils was rousing, with various sponsored walks around the school’s playing fields being a common occurrence at break times. These were complemented by a school table-top sale, donations during the school’s Music Festival, collections from student-led bake and accessory sales, and one of the most popular of all, an after-school quiz night.
The biggest donation came from a group of parents and staff, who raised BD2,500 by running in the Bahrain Marathon as the self-styled ‘Go Global Marathon Runners’.
Annabel continued: “Initially I was concerned that the task ahead was going to be huge but I was amazed at the enthusiasm and support that children and staff in the school have shown towards the cause. It is so rewarding to know that we have made a difference in the lives of over 200 children and in turn this will make a huge difference to their families and also to the village where they live.
“This project has really been a whole community effort. We are thrilled, and very proud, to have smashed through our target by raising BD12,500 already, and that’s with plenty more fundraising activities planned for the academic year. It’s not just the staff who are proud though, our pupils themselves should be delighted with their own efforts. They will be able to say that they have played a huge part in providing an education for those less fortunate than themselves and that is an amazing thing”.
The Ka Narng Ket School officially opened last October, and by February this year it had 200 regular pupils attending. Older children attend school in the late afternoon and early evening as they help their families work the land during the day. It is not uncommon to see adults also attending in the evenings as many have missed out on the opportunity to learn to read and write themselves as children.
Annabel, alongside Alyaa Bataineh, teacher and community service co-ordinator at the primary school, and Kirsty McKay, community service co-ordinator at the senior school, will be visiting Cambodia for the first time later this month and have been requested to take Lego and reading books for the children. They also plan to carry out some team-teaching as well as visit some of the other UWS schools in the area.