Students Raise €55k for African Project in Two Years

A challenge to Irish students to raise €55,000 in cash for a charity in West Africa may seem a near impossible task, but one group of schoolgirls proved that with the right motivation and much teamwork the feat could be achieved.

Two very different international communities teamed up as Cork’s Scoil Mhuire secondary school girls spent two years raising money to fund a school and education programme in Sierra Leone. 

The 2010/11 transition years took the term ‘team-work’ to a whole new dimension and raised €40,000 for the African school. 

The school year calendar was packed with cake sales, street collections, fashion shows, and jumble sales. Even the dancing shoes were taken out for the girls’ charity ball. 

Six of the girls had the opportunity to view the final results when they visited the school in Sierra Leone in April. 

Student Amy Coughlan said: "Seeing a photograph of the dirt ground site, raising and sending over the money, and then going to visit the new school up and running with all the students was just amazing. 

"I’d go back to Sierra Leone in a heartbeat. Since the start of transition year we all wanted to go to Africa so we worked hard raising the money. 

"The effort we put into the cause was completely worth it to see the students in Sierra Leone enjoying their new school." 

Meanwhile, this year’s transition year students raised funds to educate African communities on the prevention of female genital mutilation. 

Both projects, organised by the St John of God Order, aimed to provide and improve education in the West African country, which is still suffering after a civil war that ended a decade ago. 

Scoil Mhuire transition year co-ordinator Bernice O’Brien said the beauty of the project was they could see the money directly transfer to the African communities. 

"It was the people of the village who built the school with the money we raised. It was fantastic to see our money provide employment in the area for a much needed school for the children." 

Student Ellen Manley said: "Some of the Sierra Leoneans were mutilated from the war, we saw girls younger than us pregnant — while having another child on their back. We could never have prepared ourselves for what we saw but we all learnt a lot from it." 

The Scoil Mhuire team joined in with the African community for the new school’s opening. The girls were honoured by lines of children singing traditional African songs. 

The four other students who visited Sierra Leone were Ciara Randlea, Niamh McCarthy, Olivia Teahan, and Emily O’Flynn.




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