18 Park St, Mayfair, London W1K 2HZ, UK

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    18 Park St
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    18 Park Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 2HZ, UK
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    +44 (0)207 629 3366
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Project/s Location/s

Bibangwa School

Project/s Description/s

Children in Crisis is delighted to announce the inauguration of the Bibangwa School, generously funded through a partnership between the charity The Virdee Foundation. Two hours’ walk from the nearest road, the new school is set on the High Plateau in South Kivu, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the school formally opened on 19 August and already filled with 165 children. Originally completed in April, formally inaugurating the L-shaped school with its six classrooms had to be postponed because rebel groups moving across the Plateau made it too dangerous for visitors to travel for inaugural celebrations. Communities living in this area have suffered decades of neglect by the government as well as a conflict involving many rebel groups. The existing dark and over-crowded school had been built using sticks and mud. Its teachers were untrained and unqualified. As a result of this, Bibangwa’s children are at the extremes of isolation, where they are receiving no help or investment from the government or other organisations. The former wattle and daub school, built by a resourceful community who are desperate for their children to learn, was unfortunately ruined by the Plateau’s torrential rains. “We had waited so long for this day. All the children and their parents were there; most of whom had actually helped to build the school. There were speeches from the Headmaster, local chiefs, the School Building Committee, Ebenezer Ministries and the local church and from Children in Crisis as the keys were handed over. Contracts were signed on a table piled high with dictionaries, text books, pencils, paper and footballs. The village choir sang and there was dancing as we opened bright blue doors into light classrooms. I have seen many new schools in my role at Children in Crisis and this is by far the most impressive.” stated Thea Lacey, Programme Manager at Children in Crisis Thanks to the Virdee Foundation’s support, they have been able to work with Bibangwa’s parents to construct the new, durable, six-classroom school for their children. The new school has been named after The Virdee Foundation and is known as “The Virdee School”. It is a community-owned and community-run school that has been established in a safe and dry place for future generations of the children of Bibangawa to attend, whom now have the opportunity to learn and enhance their growth, knowledge and development in both education and life. Bibangwa’s previous school was built through a significant effort from the community, using local traditional techniques. It was a bamboo frame construction with white clay walls. Though these techniques can work quite well for domestic dwellings, they did not work well at all for classrooms, providing an unstable and unsettling place for children to learn. The fundamental absence of large, frequently-tended fireplaces in schools, meant that the walls were crumbling and the foundation was deteriorating, as there was no heat or smoke to dry and preserve the clay which is a critical element required to sustain the main structure. Due to this, the Plateau’s heavy rainfalls quickly degraded the corrugated tin roof making the classroom structure an unsafe and unfit habitat for children to learn. As a result of this, the foundations of the classrooms were cold, muddy and often wet – especially when the Plateau’s heavy rainfalls come during wet seasons restricting children to attend class sessions and learn.

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    4 Volunteer

Mandeep Kaur