Children have chalked up their first days at a school in Sierra Leone this week, thanks to a Rugby-based charity.
Extra Mile has been working there to bring education for almost ten years.
The charity originally recruited volunteers to teach in some of the poorest schools in Goderich, a small fishing village on the outskirts of the country’s capital, Freetown.
The school offers a free education to the most impoverished children from the district.
Mike Fielding, the founder of the charity, said: “The ‘dream’ of Extra Mile reached fruition on Monday.
“The first phase of the Extra Mile School opened to 40 pupils. These children will benefit from free education. They are survivors.”
He said so many of the children have watched their parents go to hospital with Ebola, never to return.
“Others have returned home from selling on the streets, only to find their home destroyed by flooding and both parents lost in the flood,” added Mike.
“One boy has a ‘bad’ record of attendance at primary school, but in reality he has to take his blind father out to beg on the streets to be able to feed themselves. Although this is hard to deal with, so is turning them away from school now we are full. They have walked here with the hope of getting educated but we have to turn them away.”
The charity will continue fundraising at local events such as car-boot sales, table-top sales, quizzes, and plant and produce sales, with preserves harvested from its allotments in Dunchurch.
For more information visit www.extra-mile.org or find the charity on Facebook.