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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
School link delivers clean water
Pupils set out the problem of not having fresh water

When children at a UK primary school exchanged postcards with a school in Ghana they were shocked at the concerns of their African friends.

While graffiti and litter preoccupied the children in Coventry, in Nyogbare they wrote about lacking clean water.

Poring over cards depicting children vomiting and struggling to carry river water, the children decided to act.

Now, Nyogbare has its own water supply - thanks to their far-away friends who wrote to the charity WaterAid.

Diseases

Southfields and Nyogbare have been partner schools through international development charity, Link Community Development's Link Schools Programme for five years.

The annual postcard exchange last year resulted in some vivid images from the Ghanaian pupils which highlighted the lack of clean water and toilets - and the resulting health consequences.

Deputy head teacher Jo Hallett said: "The children found it quite hard to understand that people couldn't readily get hold of water.

"They found it hard to believe because we take clean water to understand."

Pupil Danielle said: "I can't imagine what it is like to have to collect all your water in a bucket like that."

Mujahid said: "If you don't have clean water you get lots of diseases like cholera."

After discussing what they could do the children, then aged nine, wrote to WaterAid asking if they could help their friends in the rural north east of Ghana.

"Obviously they had existing projects so they couldn't promise anything, but they said they'd try," said Mrs Hallett.

"By autumn we hadn't heard anything and put it out of our minds really, but in April this year we were told that the trucks had arrived at the school and the school was told that their partner school in the UK had asked for them to have water."

Mrs Hallett got to see the effects in person when she went to visit.

"It has had such a huge effect on the whole community," she said.

"It is a deep bore hole and because it goes down to the water table it is clean and much more secure than a well made by hand."

Nyogbare principal Jacob Tibil and staff with new water pipe
Nyogbare principal Jacob Tibil and staff with new water pipe

She added: "It also has an important message for our pupils - that their concern and involvement can really make a difference.

"The power of young people's voices, in both the south and the north, got the bore hole made, and both schools were active partners in this development."

The schools' ties have meant that Nyogbore's principal, Jacob Tibil, has visited Coventry, while Southfield's head teacher, Paul Tuffin, is due to visit Ghana.

Coventry pupil Ian, 10, said: "Now that Jacob has been to stay with us, the children at Nyogbare feel like close friends.

"It's great that they told us about the problem and we have been able to help."

Nalo, also 10, said: "I feel really happy that they have clean water and proud that we have been able to help them."

WaterAid's community fundraiser for schools, Katie Spooner, said: "The children of Southfields School wrote some very moving letters and we're so pleased to have been able to help in Nyogbare."

Photos supplied by Southfields school


SEE ALSO
Viewpoints: The water debate
27 Nov 04 |  Science/Nature

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