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Lurgan woman raising money for ‘heart-breaking’ African school after volunteering highlighted huge need

A Lurgan woman has launched a fundraiser in aid of an East African Primary School after she witnessed a “heart-breaking” lack of amenities whilst teaching there.

Eleanor Hammil spent a month teaching English and Maths to a class of 26 pupils in Nuru Primary School, located in the small village of Sakina in Arusha, Tanzania.

Whilst volunteering in the school, Eleanor noted the basic and old mismatched desks, along with floors that had no coverings and huge patches of broken concrete which created dust and dirt.

She also said there were minimum materials, with children sharing pencils, rulers and textbooks at a school with around 250 pupils.

Eleanor, who helped start up Annaghmore Men’s Shed and continues to support them, approached the group who decided to help her raise funds to repair the floors and provide educational posters and materials.

The GoFundMe listing reads: “With your help and support, we can offer the funds necessary to offer some more smiles for those children seeking an education.”

So far, the fundraiser has managed to bring in over £900.

Despite the poor conditions at the school, Eleanor said she was amazed with the “resilience and positive outlook on life” expressed by the children, who arrived at school at 7:30am “bursting with happiness and eager to take part in the lessons”.

She said: “The teachers shared one textbook on each subject between two classes, but this did not deter or discourage the young, bright, hungry minds of these happy, polite and eager young people. I feel honoured that I have had the opportunity to spend some time in a little school in a little village with teachers and pupils with big hearts and hopefully bright futures.”

Speaking to Armagh I on the difficulties that the school faces and her motivation for launching the campaign, she recounted: “One day, a teacher was with me and she said we were going to do writing skills. However, she said she didn’t have the textbook because the other teacher had it and he wasn’t in. Then, I realised these teachers are sharing one textbook to teach these children.”

Eleanor, who had brought money with her when she travelled to Tanzania, decided to speak to the headmaster to see what they would like to buy for the school.

“He listed a load of books for all the classes so we went out to a book shop that sold the school books and we got something like 83 books and reams of paper and stuff like that.

“They were so grateful. They were over the moon to have these textbooks,” she said.

With the help of Annaghmore Men’s Shed, Eleanor launched her campaign and, as soon as the money started to come in, she was sending it back out in small portions to the school.

She initially sent £200 for the floor to be fixed in a classroom and, within two days, she was sent a video of the floor being lifted and a new floor being put down.

Added Eleanor: “Each step of the way he’s going to send me photos so that I can show people that are donating where their money is being used.”

Eleanor hopes that, with the donations raised through her campaign, the children of Nuru Primary School will be able to access the basic facilities and tools that schoolchildren in Northern Ireland take for granted.

She said: “They need loads and loads of stuff but I can only do so much. Whatever we can help, that’s what we’ll do.

“To me, education is their way out of poverty.”

If you would like to donate to the appeal please click the link here.

Read more: New Men’s Shed at Annaghmore seeking to give men ‘distraction’ from life’s worries

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