UAE students raise funds for damaged Ghanian schools

The Tofikia Primary school located in northern Ghana is the 13th project taken up by charity group Building Walls of Wisdom that aims to change lives through education.
Tofikia Primary School in northern Ghana - the storm struck three months ago and ripped off the school's roof and students have been studying in the open since then. Courtesy Building Walls of Wisdom
Tofikia Primary School in northern Ghana - the storm struck three months ago and ripped off the school's roof and students have been studying in the open since then. Courtesy Building Walls of Wisdom

ABU DHABI // Children studying under trees in a Ghanaian village will have a safe and secure place to learn once a group of teachers in the capital raises enough funds to rebuild their school, which was destroyed in a storm.

The Tofikia Primary School in northern Ghana is the 13th project taken up by charity group Building Walls of Wisdom (BuildWoW), which aims to change lives through education.

Classrooms were destroyed when a storm ripped off the school’s roof three months ago.

The benches and tables that survived were dragged outdoors so classes were not interrupted for about 100 pupils in the Tunaayili community.

“The school is now desperate for support as it will only be damaged further and the children will miss school,” said Jared Rodgers, a technology teacher in an Abu Dhabi school.

“The school and parents have already managed to raise money for a few poles and wood to turn the destroyed classroom into a pavilion. They are now looking for funds to complete the pavilion and to re-roof the entire school, so effective teaching and learning can continue.”

The small group of teachers along with parents and pupils has been raising funds for schools in poor communities since 2009.

The group is organising an all-day frisbee tournament on Friday at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi to raise money for Tofikia and to build toilets at the Yapala Primary School, which has 150 pupils.

“We hope to build two pit latrines to improve hygiene,” Mr Rodgers said. “Not only will the latrines provide a safe place for children to use the washroom, it will also offer an opportunity for all the children attending Yapala to learn about the importance of handwashing, proper hygiene and good sanitation.

“Improvements to the schools will have a huge impact on their health and education.”

Support from BuildWoW has previously helped in the building of three classrooms at Yapala.

Campaigns enable the teaching community to create awareness about impoverished regions among young students in the UAE. “What we like to embody in our programme is that one individual can make a difference,” said Anne Russell, a community-service coordinator in an Abu Dhabi school.

“We have to instil a sense of global citizenship and responsibility towards the less fortunate – that is the mission of any good educational programme. We are invested in the notion that we can make the world a better place.”

The amount required for both schools is about US$12,650 (Dh46,463). The group still needs to collect about $3,000. Aid has been donated through the website buildwow.com, which receives contributions from around the world, and earlier charity drives in Abu Dhabi.

The group has this year also raised funds to replace a scrap metal and wood structure at Asuncion Oviedo School in Chinandega, Nicaragua.

The number of pupils has swelled to 800 over the past few years, with some children walking up to an hour each way to attend school. “The increased enrolment strained the school’s infrastructure and in order to accommodate everyone, many students are studying outside, under an awning, and others in dangerous makeshift classrooms,” Mr Rodgers said.

The group has secured funding to give about 700 children in Nicaragua, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Ghana access to education.

The plan was thought up in 2009 by founder Geoff Morgan, a former principal of the Abu Dhabi School. He has since left the UAE to share the charity’s story worldwide and visits project sites.

The goal of BuildWoW was to help 10 schools over 10 years and it reached this goal six years ahead of time, in December last year. “We hope to continue to bring educational opportunities to some of the most impoverished communities on Earth,” Mr Rodgers said.

“We are currently looking at proposals to build more schools in Nicaragua and Ghana, and will make a firm commitment once current projects are complete.”

For more information, contact Mr Rodgers on jared_rodgers_1971@hotmail.com

rtalwar@thenational.ae

Published: December 9, 2014 04:00 AM

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