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News from Benin

 

Some of the Children at Chez Papa Geoff

HATW volunteers Dick Wheelock and Nigel England have recently returned from a visit to Benin, where the Orphanage Chez Papa Geoff has now been in operation for 6 months.

Dick writes:

My responsibility is for the agricultural project which is to provide for running costs of the orphanage. The fields or “les champs,” as they are now being called have changed out of all recognition since I saw them last autumn. Now, most of the 8 hectares (20 acres) have been cleared of weeds, rank grass and non productive palm trees. There are still roots to be removed; brutally hard work in which Dieu Donne and Albert have now been joined by Justin.

Justin is the tailor who has always made school uniforms for those children who are supported by Hands Around the World, but has found his other work declining. He seems to love the change of pace and has become a valuable member of the team. Equally useful is his encyclopaedic knowledge of the locality and where, for instance, the nearest welder can be found.

April is the most important month of the year for planting maize in this region and several hectares of ground had already been prepared before our arrival. A broken injector pump on the tractor had caused a temporary hold up but we were able to bring a replacement with us. The two-row seed drill which I had built using proprietory seeder units, mounted into a far more robust frame and powered by a two-wheeled market garden tractor, was given its first real test. After a few very minor modifications and on a seed bed that was far from ideal, it worked as well as I could have hoped. At the same time as planting the seeds it also places fertiliser along the rows. On the impoverished soils of the area this will give much improved yields.

In 6 hours we were able to plant half a hectare (over 1 acre), with only one operator. A large gang, even if it were possible to recruit one at this busy season, could not plant as much by hand. The drill will also be used to plant peanuts and haricot beans later in the season. Once the maize has started to grow, manioc (cassava) will be planted between the rows giving a second crop maturing after the maize has been harvested in July / August.

There are still trees for firewood, fruit, or palm oil to be planted. As June is considered the only month wet enough for tree planting it won’t be possible to plant all that Dieu Donne would like this year. It will take several years before ‘les champs’ reach full production, but the start which has already been made is most encouraging. I look forward to seeing even more progress on future visits.

Nigel adds:

On arriving at Chez Papa Geoff (the orphanage) we were delighted to see the 11 children and young people were settled and happy. They had got used to each other and were making friends with the local children. Alice, the full time carer who joined the team last October, was making a great job of feeding the children well and getting the balance of care and discipline at the right level within the cultural setting.

Two of the boys have a disability. Epiphane has a problem with his legs and needs an operation. We are trying to get an agreement with his family to have the operation but without much success yet. Marc, who is the oldest boy in the orphanage had an ulcer on his arm when he was younger and it has left his right arm permanently bent. We have arranged for him to have the operation he needs and his mother will accompany him to the hospital.

We were able to take out clothes donated by people at my local gym and they were a great success. All the children tried on clothes for their size and chose the ones that suited them the best. They then gave us a fashion show. We also took out some footballs and taught the children a form of basketball. They had a great time. The children made up, produced and performed a play about coming into care. It was heart rending and I am talking to people I used to work with in the UK about the therapeutic benefits of this.

The solar panels we sent out were working but not to the output they should. Dick has been speaking to the manufacturer to try to sort it out.

The main building is working well and we hope that after the planting season the new well should be completed, and the water pump supplying the orphanage should be up and running. At that point and with the fields producing enough food we hope to increase the numbers of children in Chez Papa Geoff to the maximum of 24. It is expected that within two years Chez Papa Geoff should be self supporting with food and a cash crop from the fields.

We now support 110 young people in secondary education and 6 in university and 4 in apprenticeships. After visiting all the school directors we have 88 reports and at the end of the academic year we should have all 110. I am creating a system to monitor attendance and attainment records and be able to identify young people who are able to access a university place, or an apprenticeship.

Thank you for your interest as we seek to make a major and lasting difference in the lives of these children in Benin.

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Job Opportunity

HANDS AROUND THE WORLD Operations Manager – Monmouth
2.5 days per week, NJC SO1 £25,951 pro rata
18 month contract
A rare opportunity to join this small development charity working with children in Africa and India. Applicants must have excellent administration, communication and fundraising skills.
For more information and an application pack, email jobs@hatw.org.uk

Closing date 9th June, Interviews 28th June

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Please help us support needy children in Zambia

We need the following items (in good condition please) to send to Pizz School and Kaliyangile Vocational Training Centre in Zambia for 5-18 year olds…
* Clothing and footwear, including sports kit, trainers, football boots;
* Sturdy good quality toys for the reception class;
* Unbreakable bowls, cups and spoons;
* Yarn, thread, knitting needles and crochet hooks for an after-school training club;
* Pens,pencils,crayons etc;
* Books suitable for 5-18 year olds.

PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ITEMS AT THE OFFICE

To arrange drop-off or collection please ring Lynda on 01600 775433 or 07895 276323
Thank you!

No items to give?
We need other things too – donations towards the cost of transport and help with packing boxes one day in July.
We are also looking for a Transit-size van with a volunteer driver and driver’s mate to deliver boxes to Folkestone and help to load into a container, late July / early August.

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Books for Hungry Minds!

Books
David and Lynda Steiner are at present spending some time in Monze, Zambia. Lynda writes:

Today David and I spent an hour or two with some of the pupils at HATW partner PIZZ School, a wonderful place where Mrs Sianga and her team are supporting orphaned and vulnerable children.

We sang, told some stories and traced our journey from home on an atlas. Suddenly we were all deafened by the sound of torrential rain on the metal roof of the classroom. Unable to carry on with our discussions, we handed out the 7 or 8 books we had with us to groups of pupils. It was like giving food to starving people! The children descended on the books with a thirst for information and knowledge that both humbled and delighted me. So thrilled were they by the stories that some began to copy them into their exercise books in order to be able to read them again later. An encyclopaedia was a cornucopia of delight, and the flags of the world shown in the atlas were of great interest to one group of boys in particular, another group were amazed by pictures of animals from the polar regions.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these children had access to a library? Unfortunately it can be difficult and expensive to get books to Africa from the UK, but some books are available locally to those with the money to buy them.

It’s hard not to dream of feeding the minds of these children with the provision of a library. Their teachers are hard-working and committed, but resources are very limited.

HATW supporters have already given these 400 or so orphaned and vulnerable children a school and teachers, which has transformed their lives. When we heard that many of the children would go all day without eating, you responded to our Lunch Box appeal, and now a simple but sustaining school meal is provided every day.

Imagine if break time might also include a trip to the school library during the rains. The children would pray for rain as fervently as the farmers!

Imagine if those dedicated teachers had lots of books to use in lessons, what a difference that might make to literacy, geography, history…

The first step toward realising the dream is to imagine it. Do you think that together we could take the next step? Could you help to feed those hungry minds? If you would like to, you can help here: www.hatw.org.uk/donate
Please mark your donation ‘Books for hungry minds’. Thank you.

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Would you like to help run a holiday club in Zambia at Easter 2017?

PIZZ holiday club 2015 leapfrog

PIZZ School and Support Centre Zambia

PIZZ school and support centre is a small, organically growing educational centre set up Veronica Sianga, who whilst employed as a community outreach nurse and social worker at Monze Mission Hospital in Zambia, rapidly found herself coping with hundreds of children being bereaved by HIV/AIDS. To address this she set up PIZZ School with a huge emphasis on pastoral care and well-being, caring for them as individuals and meeting their numerous needs – love, food, clothing, housing, schooling and more. If they were not part of this nurturing environment, some would inevitably be on the streets.

Hands Around the World supports her work by building classrooms and provides funding for teachers’ and carers’ wages and daily school lunches for 380 children. The charity also operates a Child Sponsorship scheme – 44 children at PIZZ are sponsored currently – and it is steadily increasing to include more children. In the meantime however, the charity seeks funding from a number of sources to enable the school to continue its critical work until such time as the child sponsorships cover the costs.

The school enables children, mostly those who would not otherwise seek to even access education due to their situation as an orphan, street child, or a lack of money to pay for a school uniform at a state school, to enter an educational environment and be provided with a meal, the necessary equipment and pastoral support to partake.

The needs being addressed are access to and inclusion in primary education and the provision of pastoral care that is not being provided for elsewhere. These needs are being met by a local team of carers and teachers. In addition to the children’s need, there are opportunities for newly qualified teachers to build up teaching experience.

The school is evaluated by:

  • Number of pupils in attendance

  • Pupils’ educational attainment as measured by government standard grades

  • Pupils’ health and absence records

  • Number of pupils dropping out

  • Classroom observations

  • Semi-structured interviews with staff, pupils, community representatives

  • UK project coordinator’s structured feedback

  • Volunteers mainly from the UK; their structured feedback

Through the charity, a Holiday Club partners UK volunteers with the school, encouraging the school to use dance, drama, art, sport and music to educate and explore significant issues impacting on the children’s lives. Lunch is also a very important part of the reason for the club! Also, there is a gardening training project, which also helps with extra food and income for the school. The Holiday Club first took place in 2014, continued last year and a repeat is due at Easter 2017.

It’s Hard To Learn When Your Hungry!

Our Lunch Box Scheme provides each child with a school meal each day.

The lunches are simple, consisting principally of fortified maize meal or rice, but the benefits in terms of health, alertness, school attendance and performance since we started the feeding programme 2 years ago have been dramatic! More than 20 children did exceptionally well in Grade 7 and Grade 9 exams, and one former student Mawini M is now studying vet science at Lusaka University.

Mrs. Sianga and her dedicated team have quoted ‘what a fantastic difference it has made!’ Not only do more children come to school regularly, but they are much more energetic and alert, generally healthier, and their improved school performance has seen exam results go through the roof!

Hands Around the World pays £500 per month to feed the children, that’s just over £1 per month each! With the school ever expanding there is a real need to secure further funding to support our current streams of funding for this project.

By providing not only education, but also food, uniforms and sensitive support, the project enables the children to attend school, and provides an opportunity for the children to break the cycle of poverty, for themselves and their families.

PIZZ child 2013 smaller

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No room for complacency…

Jomo Kwame Sundaram, former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development writes:

Over 2.1 billion people in the developing world lived on less than $3.10 a day in 2012, compared to 2.9 billion in 1990.
Extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa has hardly declined, standing at around 42.6% in 2012. Moreover, many of the poor in this region are estimated to be very far below the poverty line as the average consumption of Africa’s poor is only about 70 cents a day—barely more than twenty years ago. Thus, even 20 more years of progress at recent rates will not end poverty in Africa, with a quarter of Africans expected to still be deemed poor in 2030.
Besides income, wide ranging deficits in the human condition remain widespread, not only in most low income countries, but also in many middle income countries. Access to basic education, healthcare, modern energy, safe water and other critical services — often influenced by socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity and geography — remain elusive for many.

There is little evidence that the professed commitments by the global community to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and what was done in the name of the MDGs was critical to poverty reduction. This does not bode well for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially with the protracted economic slowdown since 2008, the declining commitment to economic multilateralism and the constrained fiscal and policy space most developing countries have.

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Climate Change hits hard in Zambia

By NORIMITSU ONISHI APRIL 2016 from The New York Times

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Pherry Mwiinga, a hydrologist, looks out over the Zambezi River in Zambia, where water levels are at record lows. Credit Joao Silva/The New York Times

LAKE KARIBA, Zambia — Even as drought and the effects of climate change grew visible across this land, the Kariba Dam was always a steady, and seemingly limitless, source of something rare in Africa: electricity so cheap and plentiful that Zambia could export some to its neighbors.

The power generated from the Kariba — one of the world’s largest hydroelectric dams, in one of the world’s largest artificial lakes — contributed to Zambia’s political stability and helped turn its economy into one of the fastest growing on the continent.

But today, as a severe drought magnified by climate change has cut water levels to record lows, the Kariba is generating so little electricity that blackouts have crippled the nation’s already hurting businesses. After a decade of being heralded as a vanguard of African growth, Zambia, in a quick, mortifying letdown, is now struggling to pay its own civil servants and has reached out to the International Monetary Fund for help.

“The Kariba Dam was a big eye-opener, sort of a confirmation that, yes, there could be this problem of climate change,” said David Kaluba, national coordinator of the government’s Interim Climate Change Secretariat.

On a continent especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, Zambia’s rapid fall shows how the phenomenon threatens economic development across Africa, and how easily it can contribute to wiping out the fragile gains made in recent years.

While the global drop in commodities prices has devastated Africa, drought and other weather patterns related to climate change over decades have also undermined some of the biggest economies across the continent, from Nigeria in the West to Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa to South Africa at its bottom tip.

Over the next decades, Africa is expected to warm up faster than the global average, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Despite an agreement reached in Paris in December, which committed nearly every country in the world to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, it is far from clear how much money African nations will have to mitigate climate change and adapt to it.

Zambia remains largely dependent on foreign assistance to manage climate change, and has been slow to plan for the consequences on its own.

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To many in Zambia, the current power crisis has focused attention on climate change in a way that changes over years and decades, like rising temperatures and irregular rainfall patterns, had not. People across the nation now track Kariba’s water level — it was 13 percent of capacity on a recent visit, up from a low of 11 percent in January.

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A view of the Zambezi River as seen from the Kariba Dam wall, where water levels have dropped because of low rainfall. Credit Joao Silva/The New York Times

“Now it’s here, we started experiencing it, it’s real,” he said. “I’m very worried.”

Francis Ndilila, who leads the energy committee at the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that climate change had had the direct “effect already of slowing down our economic development.”

Projections for growth in Zambia, which averaged more than 7 percent for the decade up to 2015, have been cut in half.

The problems at the dam here stem from an El Niño weather pattern that has brought the worst drought in decades to parts of Africa. Farmers, who rely on rain and lack irrigation facilities, have been hit hard.

But so have countries dependent on hydroelectricity, like Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi. In Zambia, hydropower accounts for 95 percent of the electricity. Production at Kariba Dam, which usually generates more than 40 percent of the nation’s power, has fallen to about a quarter of capacity.

On a recent morning, not a drop came out of the dam’s sluices. Rocky patches on the riverbed that feeds Lake Kariba lay exposed, and sections of the dam’s walls, usually submerged, were discoloured. The rains had come late to Zambia this season, and then only in small quantities, though recent strong rains up north have given officials some hope.

“Once the inflow reaches us in a few weeks, we expect some fair rise, not much,” said Pherry Mwiinga, a hydrologist at the Zambezi River Authority, which manages the dam.

Between 1960 and 2003, Zambia’s average annual temperature rose by 1.3 degrees Celsius, and rainfall has decreased by 2.3 percent each decade. The rainy season has become shorter, marked by more frequent droughts. When rains fall, they do so with greater intensity and tend to cause floods.

African governments say that big investments are needed to build irrigation facilities, canals and other climate-resilient infrastructure, in addition to developing renewable energy sources.

In the climate deal reached in Paris in December, wealthy nations, which are the biggest emitters of greenhouses gases, pledged $100 billion a year starting in 2020 to developing nations to help deal with climate change. But the amount is not legally binding, and terms were left vague.

“It’s very unclear,” said Mr. Kaluba of Zambia’s climate secretariat. “We see $100 billion scattered all over documents, but what it means has not hit the ground.”

Robert Chimambo, an environmental activist at the Zambia Climate Change Network, a private group, said that “the government could do a lot of things without the help of donors.”

Zambia’s reliance on hydropower has compounded its problems. The price of copper, its main export, fell because of decreasing demand from China. As the lack of rains led to low water levels here, Zambia was forced to carry out scheduled — and often unscheduled — blackouts. As the blackouts increased production costs, copper miners laid off thousands of workers.

In a country accustomed to a secure supply of power, the drought and the resulting blackouts immediately affected businesses big and small.

For Good Time Steel in Lusaka, the nation’s biggest steel maker, the power cuts meant losing a third of its production capacity and frequent breakdowns in its machinery. Unable to meet production deadlines, the company became unprofitable for the first time last year.

Good Time Steel was established in Zambia a decade ago, part of a big wave of Chinese investments in the country and elsewhere in Africa. At the time, Chinese businessmen did not weigh a government’s response to climate change as part of their investment decision making, said Jacky Huang, the manager of Good Time Steel, which employs 600 Zambians and 60 Chinese.

“Now we consider what the government is doing about climate change,” Mr. Huang said, adding that his company had recently abandoned an expansion plan because of the erratic power supply. “It’s a factor we have to consider.”

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MIHABURA SCHOOL, RWANDA, WINTER PROJECT 2015

Aims: Working with local people at Mihabura Primary School,

mihab 1

..to replace crumbling mud-brick classrooms

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. with a block of five modern classrooms and storeroom

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.. to provide new sports facilities for the school and community.

Summary

  • The demolition work on the old classrooms at Mihabura School was undertaken in 2015 by 100 volunteer parents and sponsored students;

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  • The construction of five new classrooms and storeroom, funded by a grant of £25,339 from the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission, was undertaken by local building contractors between September and November 2015;

  • The HATW volunteer team spent two weeks at the school in December 2015 working with local volunteer teachers, parents and sponsored students, painting the classrooms in preparation for an inauguration ceremony and the new term in 2016;

  • A basketball/volleyball court, funded by Jersey volunteer fundraising totalling £8,500, was constructed by local contractors on adjoining land purchased by the school for this purpose and opened for community use in December 2015.

  • Jersey Overseas Aid has provided a further grant of £26,926 to enable phase 2 to proceed in 2016 with another five classrooms, thus completing the full redevelopment of classrooms at Mihabura Primary School.

Background to the project

HATW Jersey has been working in Bugarama since 2010 when a team of volunteers assisted with the construction of new classrooms at Muko School which was developing the first senior secondary classes in the town. Since then a team from Jersey has visited Muko School each year to assist with maintenance projects, the establishment of a nursery school and the development of an English language teaching programme.

In 2015 a new partnership was formed with Mihabura, another primary school in the town, which has been supported since 2007 by RSVP (Rwandan School Village Project www.rsvpcharity.org.uk), a Scottish registered charity founded by Simon Mbarushimana, a Rwandan doctor originally from Bugarama, and currently working in Middlesbrough.

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Through various support programmes provided by RSVP, Mihabura School has developed into a thriving school achieving excellent exam results, putting it at the forefront of schools in the region. However, it was in desperate need of new, modern classrooms. Originally built for a smaller school population, the school now dealt with over 1000 pupils, teaching them on a shift basis except for year six exam classes. Decrepit, old classrooms, built of mud-brick, had begun to collapse under the pressures of overcrowding.

The 2015 project is part of a total rebuilding programme replacing existing inadequate classrooms: two new classrooms had already been provided in 2013 from donations from Harlaw Academy from Scotland. Five classrooms were to be constructed in 2015 and a further five to follow in 2016, funded by grants from the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission.

Partnership Agreement:

In preparation for the project an agreement was drawn up with the school authorities, ADEPR (the Pentecostal Church, owners of the school) and the Executive Secretary of Bugarama civic administration, setting out how the collaboration between HATW Jersey and Mihabura School would proceed and clarifying the responsibilities and commitments of all partners in the project.

This partnership agreement was welcomed by our partners at the school as it established the project within the overall development plan for the school and made a clear statement about the project for the benefit of the Church and civic authorities.

The Partnership Agreement was followed up at an early stage by meetings with the local Executive in Bugarama and the Mayor of Kamembe to ensure that they were fully aware of the objectives of the Mihabura project and the involvement of HATW.

Volunteers

A major objective in the planning of the project was to enhance volunteer involvement at all possible stages, with Jersey volunteers working alongside local volunteers in Bugarama.

The Rwandan team was led by Japhet Ndagijimana, Head Teacher of Mihabura School, together with Emmanuel, his deputy, Innocent, a teacher at Mihabura, and Fulgence Kaneza, RSVP co-ordinator.

Japhet organised groups of other teachers, parents and sponsored students to participate in painting the classrooms on a daily basis and preparations for the inauguration ceremony.

The Jersey HATW team consisted of three volunteers: Mike Haden (civil servant), Jane Clarke (accountant) and Kenny McLeod (painter). Arriving after the construction work had been completed the Jersey team spent two weeks working with local volunteers painting the five new classrooms constructed with JOAC funding, plus the two classrooms previously built by Harlaw Academy from Scotland.

Whilst the broad participation of volunteers was very welcome, the daily organisation of new volunteers was a challenge, as some of them had a lot of enthusiasm but little previous experience of painting.

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However, some of the students returned for a number of days and thus became more useful contributors to the project.

Community sports facilities

The school authorities requested that the money be put towards providing a basketball/volleyball court which could also be used by the community. Initially the Jersey volunteers were uncertain about this decision. However this sports facility was part of the school’s overall development plan to raise the quality of education and it became clear to the Jersey team while we were there that there was a great deal of excitement about the potential for this court to enhance the school’s sporting aspirations. The use of the court would also be shared with other schools in the town. £7,500 was applied for this purpose. In order to complete this project an additional £1,000 was committed in advance from next year’s fundraising.

Sponsorship

A further £1,800 was committed to sponsoring an individual teacher at Mihabura School through a three year part-time teacher training programme. Joel was previously sponsored through secondary education and has subsequently impressed as an unqualified teacher, as well as a hard-working volunteer on the classroom painting.

Activities with the school and community

Japhet had devised a busy programme of activities for us outside of the work in the classrooms

There were a number of sporting challenges such as the very first Bugarama 10K run in searing heat on a course out to the Burundi border. There was even a special section for veterans.

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We lost a football match but the volleyball match with other teachers in our team provided a better opportunity to make our winning mark.

One afternoon we climbed Muko hill to gain a superb view over Bugarama, the Rusizi Valley and the towering hills of the nearby DRC just across the river.

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The Rusizi River provided an opportunity to swim after work but the fast flowing current forestalled any notion of swimming over to set foot in the DRC.

In addition, there were opportunities to take a swim in Lake Kivu, have a tour around a tea plantation and a dip in nearby hot springs.

We were invited to give presentations to students and parents about Jersey and Hands Around The World.

Sunday mornings of course included an invitation to take part in morning worship with the Pentecostal community, with a mixture of lively music and a long sermon.

Inauguration Day

Our final day in Bugarama saw a large scale celebration of what the project and the school have achieved to date. Japhet and his team had invited dignitaries including the Director of Education, the head of the Pentecostal Church in Rwanda, the mayor of the Rusizi district and civic leaders from Bugarama.

The ceremony which lasted all morning included two choirs, a dancing group, at least eight speeches and the opening basketball match on the new court. National press and radio reported on the event.

Conclusion

Having visited Bugarama with a previous project five years ago it was a delight to return and see huge signs of improvements in both schools, Muko and Mihabura, as well as in the town as a whole. We were very impressed by the drive and enthusiasm of Japhet, Fulgence and other members of the Mihabura team. I am grateful that a grant from Jersey Overseas Aid commission will enable us to complete the rebuilding of this progressive school.

Mike Haden

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