A Sligo teacher who set up a school in Tanzania to educate girls and give them a better chance in life, undertook a fundraising cycle with three of her colleagues at the weekend.
Collette O’Hagan, principal of Mercy College in Sligo, was joined by Anne Gorby, Pamela Scanlon and Leonie Boyce for an epic Sligo-Galway-Sligo cycle which started on Saturday and finished on Sunday evening with a reception at A Casa Mia on Rockwood Parade.
Over eight years ago, Colette – then principal of Corran College, Ballymote – undertook, with the help of students, staff, parents association and friends to raise €40,000 to build a Trade School in Kisiju, a bush village, 100km south of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania.
This was accomplished in 2008. The Trade School consists of two classrooms, two workshops, and office, store and toilets.
Accommodation for teachers has also been purpose built and this means that teachers can be recruited from other parts of Tanzania and Africa.
The first mission was set up there over seven years ago by Fr. Patrick Keaney SDS with whom Colette O’Hagan liaises directly.
To date, Fr. Patrick, with the help and effort of the people in the area, has built the mission, a hospital, a school, a church and accommodation for staff.
Since coming as Principal to Mercy College, Colette has carried on the fundraising and support of this project. Development Education has also been introduced as a subject in Mercy College and during this academic year an exchange of projects between Mercy College and the Trade school will come to fruition.
“The annual goal is to raise approx. €3,000 each year so as to pay salaries for teaching staff, additional funds will buy material and equipment for the school such as fabric, scissors, thread and sewing machines,” Colette told the Sligo Weekender.
“There are only a small number of Government aided national schools in the area and there is very little opportunity for students to advance their education after leaving primary school.
“Our Trade School gives these children an opportunity to learn a skill and educate themselves. The success of the project to date has resulted in the need for a primary school so further additional funds will go towards this new project.”
During the October 2015 mid-term break, Colette, accompanied by deputy principal Anne Gorby and eight students from Mercy College, will make a return visit to Kisiju, to see for themselves the progress being made and to share their skills and experience and to learn about life and school there.
Kisiju is situated 100 km south of Dar-es-Salaam. This journey takes three hours by jeep – one hour on a tarred road and two hours on a dirt track.
The people living there are subsistence farmers and fishermen who survive on what they can produce themselves. Their only farming implements are hoes and machetes.
The area of Kisiju is infertile and little or nothing will grow. Mango, coconut and cashew nut are among the trees that can survive. The people live in grass or mud houses, which they build themselves.
If you would like to donate to the Dar-es-Salaam trade school project, you can do using the bank account details below. All donations go directly to the project. There are no administration costs and trips to the mission are personally funded by the individuals travelling.
Bank: Bank of Ireland, Stephen St, Sligo
Account Name: Tanzania School Building Fund
Account No: 86849549
Sort Code: 90-54-40