Building work has begun for YMCA Hope School students under their Bridlington and Kenema Global School Partnership Banner.

The students of the YMCA Primary School in Kenema have received their Global School Partnership banner produced and sent by the students and staff at Bridlington School Sports College following the visit of the National General Secretary and CEO of the YMCA Sierra Leone, Mr Christian Kamara, on Friday 28th February 2014 when the partnership was formalised.

Since the global school partnership began just over one month ago Bridlington School students have collectively donated over 100,000 of their personal ‘Vivo Miles Awards’ which amount to a monetary value of over £1000, and building work has started on the much needed school building.

Year 7 and 8 tutor classes have been given £10 ‘seed money’ as an enterprise project to develop and increase through a range of innovative ideas and activities and a parachute jump to raise awareness and finance is being planned. Special global school partnership ‘BSSC & YMCA HOPE SCHOOL KENEMA’ wristbands have been designed and produced using the combined school colours of blue to red and red to pink which can be purchased for £1 towards the new building cost. To date, fundraising activities including a student ‘non-uniform’ day and a donation from
the Bridlington School Foundation Trustees has seen a total of £3000 raised towards the target of £10,000.

Whilst on a teaching exchange to Sierra Leone last October as part of the British Council Connecting Classrooms programme Mark Parker-Randall, Global School Partnership Lead Teacher at Bridlington School, visited the Kenema School. He explains “In Kenema, children currently have their lessons taught in a workshop area that has four classes of varying age and ability in each corner of the room. Prior to the commencement of the school by the YMCA the children had to walk three hours to get to a school, have their schooling, then walk three hours to return home in very hot weather or in the six month heavy rainy season. The country has a great deal of poverty and many homes consist of a single room of a very basic structure, with no electricity, water or toilet provision.”

Kenema was badly affected as a result of the civil war that raged throughout Sierra Leone between 1991-2002. Education is not free. As highlighted by ‘Sport Relief 2014’, it costs £50 to send a child to school for one year in Sierra Leone which may not seem a great cost in the UK but in Sierra Leone, which is one of the poorest countries in the world according to the European Commission, it amounts to several months’ wages. Education and health care provision are serious issues for the country.

Being aware of the children’s plight to obtain an education so as to bring hope for a future free of poverty and despair, Headteacher Mrs Sarah Pashley determined to ‘make a difference’ and partnered Bridlington School with Kenema so as to provide an exchange of educational teaching and learning resources and opportunities as well as raise the necessary finances to construct the much needed school building.

Mr Kamara is overwhelmed by the spirit and generosity of the staff and students from Bridlington School and as a direct result of his visit and the partnership he decided to name the new school YMCA HOPE PRIMARY SCHOOL, KENEMA.

Speaking with staff and students on his visit to Bridlington Mr Kamara said, “When I first suggested a school for Kenema people laughed at me and said ‘no-one will be interested in Kenema; Kenema is an orphan’, but I am now smiling because you have chosen the orphan! The children of Kenema now have hope and a future because Bridlington School has chosen them. It will be a ‘School of Hope’.”

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