Primary school's pledge to help support Gambia's deaf children

Alex Rigg with some of the Townfield Primary School pupils who have raised money for St John's School for the Deaf.

Alex Rigg with some of the Townfield Primary School pupils who have raised money for St John's School for the Deaf.

First published in News
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Wirral Globe: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A WIRRAL primary school has vowed to make sure disadvantaged children in The Gambia have a right to an education after they raising more than £4,500 for the country’s deaf children.

Townfield Primary School first became involved with St John’s School for the Deaf after teacher Alex Rigg – who works with the Prenton school’s own Hearing Support Base – visited the Gambian school in 2010.

During the trip, Alex was faced with the stark contrast between what its pupils experienced and what those in Wirral do.

She said: “One thing that really stuck in my mind was that one of the teachers was cutting a pencil into four pieces so that the children had something to write with. It was then that I thought I had to do something.”

On returning to Townfield – which works closely with Unicef – Alex gave a school assembly on the struggles faces by pupils at St John’s, something that really struck a chord with those listening.

“It made the children aware of the differences so as a school and as a community we have done as much as we can to support the education of deaf children in Gambia.”

Every single pupil at Townfield has since helped to raise vital funds for St John’s through summer fairs, Christmas stalls, raffles, sponsored skips and Walk A Mile with Water challenges – aimed at replicating the mile Gambian children must walk to find water.

After forming a link with the school, Townfield’s pupils continue to stay in touch with their African friends through pen letters, although Alex admits they send more than they receive as St John’s pupils do not have the resources needed to reply.

Despite raising an impressive £4,500, the school is determined to continue doing all it can.

Alex said: “If I had a magic wand I would zap over to these schools all of our unwanted books, pens, pencils, clothes, as well as the discarded hearing aids, hearing aid batteries and testing equipment.

“Unfortunately I don’t have a magic want but I am determined to continue to develop and strengthen the link between our schools and I will continue to arrange fundraising events to raise money and resources to give these extremely underprivileged deaf children a better education.”

St John’s School for the Deaf is located right on the coast of The Gambia, meaning children from the other side of the country must be transported each day on a bus journey that lasts several hours.

Wirral Globe:
Alex Rigg, right, during a return trip to the Gambia earlier this year.

There are usually four buses used to carry out this task but at present, only three are in service meaning those who would use the broken bus are not getting an education.

Cole Brennan, a Year 3 pupil at Townfield, added: “That’s why, as a school and as a community, we vow to help these children and make sure that they have a right to an education and that they have access to that education.”

  • If you would like to help with Townfield’s fundraising, call Alex Rigg at the school on 0151 652 8498.

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