An African school built by Port Fairy residents is due to open next month and its founders Seif Sakate and Catherine Ryan couldn’t be happier.
The Bandari School Project in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania has been a labour of love for the couple and south-west volunteers who have helped build the school.
The Port Fairy Rotary Club and the Port Fairy Folk Festival have also helped fund the building’s construction.
Mr Sakate grew up in the region and the couple met while Ms Ryan was working in Tanzania. They have two sons – Kolo, 3, and Ikiro, who was born on Tuesday.
The school’s kinder will open next month and provide education to some of the region's most disadvantaged children.
The children will begin kindergarten and the group hope to build a classroom per year, as the children progress though the year levels.
The couple has launched a program where south-west residents can sponsor a child for $20 a month to ensure they have the resources they need to attend school.
“We want to help as many kids as we can,” Ms Ryan said. “There’s a lot of need.
“The challenge is just limiting ourselves to 20 children because there are so many that need that help.
“We need to be realistic about what we do.”
The couple started talking about sponsorship earlier this year, once the school became a reality.
“We’re going to need uniforms. We’re going to need books, so the easiest way for that to happen would be through a sponsorship,” she said.
The couple said existing government schools had up to 100 children in a classroom, whereas the Bandari School numbers would be limited.
“We want to make sure it’s a quality education where every child gets attention from the teacher and help if they need it and they will need it.
“They’re very disadvantaged and need that support.
“Our project manager in Tanzania is in the process of finding the kids and we’re working with the council to find the kids who really need the help. She’s coming back with stories of kids who are living in abject poverty.”
The school curriculum will be taught in English to prepare the children for secondary school where all the lessons are in English.
Sponsorship is $20 per month, or $240 annually, which will provide each child with a uniform, books, a bag and breakfast when they arrive at school.
The pair hope that sponsors who sign up will continue to support the child throughout its primary education.
Sponsors will receive a photo of their sponsor child and information about their background. They also have the option of visiting the child at Easter when south-west volunteers head to the region on their annual trip to complete building works.
For more, contact Catherine on 0437 213 233 or visit the Bandari Project Facebook page.
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