AN IMPACT HOLIDAY to Uganda proved to be a lifechanging experience for two Rossendale teachers.
They helped to build a school and used their creative abilities assist youngsters paint brightly coloured bunting. They invested money they had raised to ensure around 500 children from poor communities receive a year’s tuition to prepare them for school, a village has fresh running water and 200 mosquito nets could be handed out.
Head of Art Mrs Walsh and Head of Performing Arts, Miss Sweeney, collected a host of items from students, fellow staff and friends for the Haslingden charity Agapao, which works in Uganda and who organised the trip.
Miss Sweeney conquered a plethora of fears including insects, heights and water and has vowed to return to the country to continue the work they started. Mrs Walsh also wishes to return next year and would like to be able
to arrange it so Fearns’ pupils may also be able to travel to the country. She said: “If everybody got the chance to go out there and do what we did then the world would be a better place. It really brings you back to reality and makes you realise how very fortunate we
Mrs Walsh was most affected by scenes she witnessed in a hospital. Children’s wards were split into those suffering from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. They were housed three to four a cot with their parents sleeping underneath the bed on the floor. Blood was transfused from a bucket. “It just seemed like there was just no hope for anyone who was in this place,”she said.
For Miss Sweeney the hardest place to visit was a home for the destitute which resembled an asylum with dark cells and flickering lighting where people who had fought for the allies were now in a desperate state sleeping on soiled mattresses.
In contrast they delighted with the response of parents and children who were thrilled to use paints to create bunting for their schoolroom and welcomed them warmly into their lives and homes. Mrs Walsh said: “When we handed out the football tops that had been donated the children were so excited.” They also watched as charity workers extracted maggots from the feet of children before fitting them with a pair of donated shoes.
It was a humbling experience for both teachers who have written to the school’s Pupil Voice charity group to thank them for the £300 donation given last year and ask if they would like to assist further.
Mrs Walsh added: “The whole experience was so rewarding and they were so grateful for everything that we did and brought for them.
“We each took two big suitcases of donated items to distribute and our own clothes were taken as hand luggage. Next time I want to stay for even longer; it is humbling how things that seem so simple or are even unwanted by us, can make such a big difference out there.
For more information about the charity, please visit www.agapao.org
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