Prior's Field September 2018

The real gift of giving

Published Wednesday 6th of January 2016 02:13:54 PM

With the rush of festive present buying and giving now behind us, it is good to reflect upon on what constitutes a true gift. Barrow Hills School takes every care to place God and God’s love at its very centre and is committed to ensuring that pupils and staff never lose sight of the value of generosity and its ethos of helping others. For almost 12 years Barrow Hills has been proud to be linked in friendship with St Benedict’s, a small primary school in the town of Fada N’Gourma situated in the far east of Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world. When the School’s Chaplain, Mrs Gillie Nicholls, first visited St Benedict’s, she found just a small building of six classrooms accommodating over 300 children. The buildings were dilapidated and had limited or no facilities. The school premises were unprotected by any form of physical security or access control and as a result, traffic was literally piling into the playground at will. In addition to these clear hardships, it became apparent that the children attending the school were not eating anything at all at lunchtime. Following that early visit, the children and staff at Barrow Hills have worked relentlessly to provide the much needed improvements to St Benedict’s school. During the early years this has included: The construction of a kitchen which has resulted in all the children being given lunch every day, when previously they would have gone hungry The construction of a secure perimeter wall around the entire school to deliver a completely safe space where the children are able to play and enjoy sporting activities The replacement of the inferior children’s toilets and the provision of a staff toilet (prior to this staff members were obliged to return home if they need to use a toilet) General repairs to areas of the school in poor condition The provision of outdoor play equipment such as footballs, netballs, rounders equipment, hula-hoops and skipping ropes The supply of teaching resources, especially in relation to materials to aid the teaching of mathematics In February 2008, Barrow Hills received a direct request for aid from the management committee of St Benedict’s. Help was needed to finance the construction of a small new building as well as a dedicated vegetable garden. The new facility would enable the school to include a small library, a meeting / staff / training room, an administrative office and an ICT room. The additional building was destined to not only benefit the children of St Benedict’s but also the local community, while loaning out the facilities represented a potential new revenue stream for the school. Staff and pupils at Barrow Hills stepped up to the challenge and with the help of Mrs Nicholls’ charity (www.les-amis-bf.org.uk) enough money was raised to fund the entire project. Since then, the School has raised sufficient funds to finance a classroom extension, further toilets, the purchase of musical instruments and 16 branded white T-shirts! To enable the school to continue in its development, Barrow Hills is committed to gifting a basic £5,000 per year, which equates to just £30 per Barrow Hills family. Money has been raised via a vast range of initiative including auctions of promises, quiz nights, worm charming, fashion shows, concerts (even the School’s very own ‘Proms in the Park’) and the annual Summer Fair, in addition to regular as ad-hoc donations. The established link with St Benedict’s and the friendship it represents offers an excellent opportunity to teach Barrow Hills’ children the importance of helping those less fortunate than themselves. Commenting on Barrow Hills’ fundraising achievements, Mrs Gillie Nicholls says, “Children returning to School after the Christmas break will of course have enjoyed the pleasure of giving and receiving gifts, but we take care to ensure that this is balanced by a true appreciation of the plight of others and the significant impact that an act of kindness can have on the lives of children living in poorer parts of the world. Teaching children these valuable life lessons and actively involving them in generating funds for St Benedict’s helps us to shape their views on what gifts really matter.”
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