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St Ninian's team makes a difference in Uganda 29 August 2007

A TEAM from St Ninian's High School has returned from Uganda, where staff and students saw at first hand a school built with money they raised.

Teachers Kristina Crawford and Geoff Corke and 11 sixth formers made some finishing touches to the New Foundation School, Kiwumu, during a two-week visit this summer.

St Ninian's students, staff and supporters raised more than £40,000 towards its construction in just one school year through its Mad4CiU - Make a Difference for Children in Uganda - campaign.St Ninian's High School students in Uganda

Ms Crawford said:

'Seeing the completed school and meeting the children who attend it was a real privilege. Our main task was to paint the school and make it look finished. In four days we managed to give an undercoat and first coat of paint to the whole school both outside and in. We had the idea of painting a mural so as to leave a symbol of the link between the two schools. It was completed just in time, on our final day of painting, by Ben (a student) and myself. The design is based on that originally put together by an art teacher at our school – Gayna Miller – who unfortunately had to withdraw from the team at the last minute.'

The assistant head of sixth form added:

'We slept on the classroom floors at the school so our evenings were spent chatting to the children who sleep at the school (as they live too far away to walk or they are from the streets originally). They often would sing for us and our team also sang for them. Most entertaining was our version of YMCA. The children looked suitably confused!'

But there was time for sight-seeing too. Said Ms Crawford:

'On the middle weekend we went on safari to Murchison Falls National Park. Absolutely stunning waterfall and the abundance of wildlife; it was incredible. We didn’t see any big cats but we saw giraffe, elephant, crocodile, hippo, antelope and much, much more. The highlight was a boat trip to the falls on the Victoria Nile and seeing the riverbank teeming with wildlife.'

The St Ninian's team also helped out on a project to improve the lives of children living rough on the streets of the capital, Kampala.

Ms Crawford said:

'This is a project that Abaana (the charity we were working with) have started in the last five months: working with street children and meeting their most vital needs. As a team we spent a couple of hours each day with the children. We played games with them and just spent time talking to them or, as one of our Ugandan friends says, making them feel like human beings.'

She went on:

'The most important time for me was spent talking to two people: Lydia and Tony. Lydia is the head teacher of New Foundation School and she has such a heart for the children. She has so much passion to see them given an education and a future. She often comes to the city (about an hour from the school) to visit the street children and spend time with them. It is her hope that some of them can be housed next to the school and receive their education from there.
'Tony is a 19-year-old former street child who, through hard work and determination, is able to make enough money now to pay rent on accommodation. He has great respect among the younger children and is assisting Abaana to do their work with them. For financial reasons he was only able to finish his primary education and dreams of one day being able to gain more qualifications. The work he is doing to help Abaana and Lydia help the street children is inspirational.'

Ms Crawford concluded:

'The team all really enjoyed their time in Uganda, despite some poor health. Many now are missing Africa and finding it hard to adjust to their lifestyles here. It isn’t easy coming back but I know that these experiences are something they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
'We were able to witness first hand the great impact that the new school is having on the lives of many children. The foundation laid by St Ninian’s High School through providing the funds for the school buildings will allow for a great deal of work to be done to change the futures of many children both from Kiwumu village and from the streets of Kampala. Thank you to all those who have generously supported us in our efforts.'

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