During the Easter Break two of our staff, David Swanston and Paul Roberts, will be visiting the Mekele School for the Blind in the Tigray region of Ethiopia (Northern Africa).
The Mekele Blind School is a boarding school for approximately 90-130 blind boys and girls, ages 6-16. With the highest rate of preventable blindness in Africa, Ethiopia has a great need for this little school. Conditions at the school are harsh. The school has been water-insecure for years, and the quality of the water is poor. The students eat a very limited diet of white bread for breakfast and a pancake of njera for dinner. They have a garden in which they grow chard, onions, zucchini and tomatoes. These are added to the meals to bolster the health of the children.
The children at the school receive a limited education as they do not have either sufficient teaching staff nor the resources that would enable them to access any curriculum.
So why are staff from St. Vincent’s wishing to visit?
The purpose of the visit is to undertake an audit of the school to see what facilities they have and what would be needed to improve the lot of the children at the school. Our staff will look at the teaching, support and mobility/orientation aspects and will be considering how these may be improved.
On return to the UK, the staff will use the audit information to formulate a bid for Overseas Aid funds to enable staff from Mekele to visit our School and receive training that will enable them to provide a better quality of education to their pupils. In time, it is hoped that we may be able to arrange for some of the pupils from Mekele to receive some education here at our school.
The school feels that this work is very much a mission aligned to the work and values of our patron St. Vincent who did much to help the poor and underprivileged.