College Charity Swazaid – Where did our money go? – A Partnership in the making.

19 Nov 2014

Every year, Abbey Gate College nominate a charity that becomes the focus of its fundraising for the year and 2 years ago pupils at the College began raising money for Swazaid.  Via a number of events the College raised over £7000 and last month Deputy Head Mr David Meadows, Vice Chair of Governors Mrs Maria Heywood and Geography teacher and Bronze Duke of Edinburgh coordinator Mrs Sarah Parker travelled to Swaziland to discover how money raised had been spent and secondly to formalize a partnership between Milinzini High School and the College.

The first few days were spent getting used to the sights, sounds and environment around Mbabane, the capital city, before driving to the South of the country to meet up with staff and pupils from the High School.  The school is located at the top of a mountain, 1400m above sea level, and at the end of a long road.  The money raised by the College was actually used to fund a project to make the road safer and smoother for traffic as well as pedestrians, thus allowing not only traffic to move to and from the village but enabling the pupils an easier walk to school – some of whom walk for several hours to get to and from school.

Staff from the College were able to spend time visiting homesteads in the community where the children live, to assess the impact of the refurbished road and Sarah Parker comments “It was a truly humbling experience as we were invited into peoples’ homes and listened to their stories. All the locals were delighted with the road, women said they could now get their children to the clinic for vaccinations and checkups and many were sowing more crops as they will be able to get their produce to markets. Emergency hospital visits were now possible; we heard the tragic story of a Community Elders daughter who died in childbirth as she could not get to hospital. They were so grateful for the new road that the women in one homestead even gave us a live chicken! What little they have they share”.  The College also donated one of its football kits so that pupils at the school could compete against other schools in the area and as the picture shows the boys could not wait to try on the kit.

Staff were also able to accompany the pupils on a 2 day fieldtrip, funded by the Mbabane Rotary Club; most of the children had never been off the mountain so for them to visit the Swaziland Parliament, a shopping mall and an airport was literally a trip of a lifetime!

The College is looking forward to the next stage of the partnership, learning from each other, exchanging ideas and experiences whilst hopefully enabling some of our students to have the opportunity to experience Swaziland in the future.