Grenada: School Time: – They Need Your Help!
School Time – They need your help!!
Last year I attended the 2nd Annual Grenada Chocolate Festival and had a really fantastic time. Before I went someone told me that a trip to Grenada would be life changing experience – little did I know how right they were.
Whilst we were there I had the pleasure of visiting a local primary school set high in the hills in the village of Vendome. I was eager to make a return visit last month when I visited Grenada again. It took about half an hour to drive to the school, twisting and turning up the steep and windy roads. The host of the hotel we were staying in had taken this school under his wing and tirelessly fund raised to help them raise money for a new building and better conditions.
The Head Teacher (with one of her staff on her left and Russ Fielden who own and runs True Blue Bay Resort, on her right) was so happy that we had taken the time to visit and to bring books and equipment they just did not have.
At the point that I went last year they had just completed the new library however had very few books to put into it.
The government of Grenada do not support schools to the same extent as they do in the US or the UK coupled with the fact that even everyday essentials are very expensive on the island, this leaves the schools with just the very basics to teach with.
The children were so lovely, polite and inquisitive and I really enjoyed spending time with them. Their eyes lit up when I asked them questions and they were very keen to show off their environment.
However I found the experience heart breaking. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much they needed books and the usual school materials even to the point of some children coming to school in flip flops or bare foot as their parents couldn’t even provide them with shoes.
Last year I made the pledge to myself to do something to help fill the library with books. Back home I got in touch with some of the young mums on one of my Facebook groups and within minutes the offers of books and shoes that had been outgrown poured in. Before I knew it I had a suitcase full ready to take with me on the following trip.
Fast forward to the 3rd Annual Grenada Chocolate Festival which I have just recently returned from. British Airways allowed me to take the extra suitcase without charge once I stated where it was going and who would benefit. This was a great help to me saving me the extra suitcase charge of around £100!
When I visited the Vendome School again the Head Teacher was so happy with the books that I brought (I also stocked up on crayons, coloured pencils, rulers, pens, paper and other basic stationery).
The class rooms are very basic with blackboards separating the classes. This is not the best environment for concentrating however the spirits and the cheeky faces were uplifting!
Currently the children play in the area where the old building was and they have nothing to do except throw stones into the field,
or climbing around the old building whilst on their recess break. They need footballs and skipping ropes to play with and space to run about with wild abandon and be children.
The first time I visited it was lunch time. Class by class they come in for their lunch. This day it was a bowl of broth with a small piece of chicken and a few pasta pieces.
For many of the pupils this would be the only proper meal they would have until lunchtime the following day! How distressing do you think this information was for a foodie, mother and grandmother. Let me tell you it broke my heart.
Next year when I visit I want to spend some time cooking with some of the children. I asked the Head Teacher if they would like that and she enthusiastically ensured me that would be a great idea. Could you make pizza with them or maybe spaghetti and meatballs she asked me. Both of these are very expensive and considered a real treat and to make it themselves would be amazing.
I am already planning what utensils and ingredients I could take with me – I am able to get things in my local pound shop which would be very over priced there and even though the Head offered to get in the ingredients etc I couldn’t allow this. This is my treat!
I asked what I could bring the next time and she said “anything, we need everything”. Some of the basics are available on the island but are so expensive like a simple, basic stapler costing EC$60 which is approximately £15.00!
A suitcase just isn’t going to be big enough. I have been told that a lot of people ship barrels to the Caribbean. I am going to source a barrel, have it delivered to my house and fill it up with donations of used books and shoes and essential school equipment. I also want to include footballs for the boys to play with at break time and skipping ropes for the girls. And stickers – they love stickers!
What I can do for this school is only a drop in the bucket of what is needed in not only this one school but all of the primary and secondary schools in Grenada. What they really need are computers but I have to start somewhere and hope that I can make a difference even if it is only a little one!
Please leave a comment below to tell me how your heart has been touched or what has made a difference to your world.