Derbyshire school builds water tank for mission in Zimbabwe

Dave Wilson with youngsters at Makumbi Mission

Dave Wilson with youngsters at Makumbi Mission

Children in an African village are to get access to clean water every day thanks to an aqua aid scheme set up by staff and pupils at a Derbyshire school.

Teachers and children at Barlborough Hall School are raising £2,000 to pay for a new water tank at Makumbi Mission, in Zimbabwe, by swapping presents for charity vouchers this Christmas.

Barlborough is paired with Makumbi through the Jesuits' Companion Programme, which was set up to link Jesuit schools in different parts of the world.

The water tank project has been developed following a cultural exchange trip to Makumbi by Barlborough's deputy headmaster Mr Dave Wilson.

Makumbi Mission includes a senior school with a large boarding community, an orphanage for more than 80 children, a church and accommodation for the Jesuit community, Primary school, a small convent and basic, rural hospital.

During his week-long stay, Mr Wilson taught pupils at the Mission's primary school, delivered letters written by pupils, and brought back post from Makumbi for Barlborough pupils, helping the children to learn more about life in different parts of the world.

The water vouchers will pay for a 6,000-gallon tank guaranteeing the 600 children of Makumbi daily access to clean water.

Last Christmas, Barlborough Hall School completed a similar project with pupils buying food vouchers for Makumbi instead of Christmas presents for staff.

Mr Wilson said: "During the visit, I learnt a great deal about the mission, the Primary school and the needs of the community. I was greatly moved by the kindness, spirit and humanity of the people there and the enormous gratitude they have shown for all we have been able to do, which is why on my return we decided to set up the water tank voucher project.

"Fr Herbert Mueller SJ, who heads up Makumbi, and the other two priests who are both in their 70s and 80s, devote themselves tirelessly to the mission. They are doing everything possible to protect the community as far as they are able to, but it has been severely hit by the economic crisis. It is a much improved situation since last year for those who can afford it but many of the homes are poor and in need of repair, food is in short supply and some children and families have just one meal of porridge a day."

Mr Wilson's visit to Makumbi was paid for by pupils who purchased special school 'air miles' flight vouchers. He took out suitcase full of 30 clockwork engines for a technology project, water filters, medication, clothes, gifts and letters and pictures from Barlborough

Mr Wilson added: "It was only due to the exceeding generosity of parents and children that I was able to visit Makumbi in the first place. The huge contributions made by Barlborough families over the last four years have been of real importance to the school and especially the children who have benefitted in so many ways.

"The charitable work of Barlborough pupils and their families has already brought improvements to the lives of many at Makumbi and the cultural exchange has enriched our own children and provided a wonderful learning experience which will continue indefinitely."

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