KITTED OUT FOR A NEW START
THEY had never seen water from a tap or had any kit for PE lessons at school – everyday things children in this country take for granted.
But thanks to an East Yorkshire charity, hundreds of youngsters at a school in one of Africa's poorest nations are now enjoying some of life's simple pleasures.
Half a dozen volunteers from Beverley charity Jacob's Well Appeal have been helping to build a better future for children at the ABC School in Burkina Faso.
Led by Reverend John Beynon, the volunteers have built a water tower to provide running water at the school on the edge of Bobo Dioulasso, the nation's second largest city.
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Rev Beynon, whose doctor parents Peter and Beryl spearhead Jacob's Well, says: "In Africa, they don't have running water like we have.
"At this school they had a bore hole and a hand-operated pump.
"They were paying for two people to pump water all day to get enough water for 300 children in the school.
"Half of our group led a project to put up a water tower and install a water pump so the school could have running water.
"A lot of the kids had never seen water coming out of a tap before so when we had finished they were lining up to see water running out of the taps.
"It was very exciting to get the technology that we had taken working in Africa it was quite an achievement.
"Just to see the children lining up to watch it working was wonderful."
Many of the children at the school are from displaced families or from the war-torn Ivory Coast.
Vital skills learned at the school include how to grow vegetables and irrigate a plot of land.
Rev Beynon says: "It is a barren part of Africa, on the edge of the Sahara desert.
"You can't easily do a lot of agriculture unless you are able to water the land and crops.
"They are teaching the children how to grow vegetables and irrigate a plot of land.
"It's a really very poor area – people are living in mud huts or corrugated iron and cardboard shanty town houses.
"People are very poor. It's just subsistence living.
"Some of the children walk up to half an hour to get to school.
"We pay for the children to go to school and have one good meal every day.
"But we can only afford to take one child from each family."
As well as constructing a water tower, the charity has delivered sports kits and equipment donated by clubs including Hull City, as well as medical items and other supplies.
Ex-PE teacher Sylvia Hood led lessons that saw pupils sporting the donated kit and sports equipment.
Rev Beynon says: "They had never had any PE or sport taught in the school.
"They didn't have any equipment, they would just kick around old plastic bags full of newspaper because they didn't have proper footballs.
"We took out badminton and volleyball equipment, hockey sticks, cricket sets, table tennis tables, footballs and sports kits.
"We taught them ten sports, they loved it."
The ABC School is for children aged five to 13 but Jacob's Well is also supporting the development of a technology college at the site.
Rev Beynon says: "They have just built a technology college at the site and we are now sending out tools and equipment for it.
"It is in the same compound as the school. They have four acres of land and they are in the process of building a healthcare clinic as well so they can give medical aid to the children.
"This month we are sending out 40 tonnes of supplies, including medical supplies, school equipment and tools for the workshop.
"They will need a lot more tools so if any businesses have any tools they can donate, such as woodworking tools and welding equipment, we would like to hear from them."
Rev Beynon was accompanied on the trip by retired farmers Stuart and Veronica Bemrose, retired joiner Robert Horton, PE teacher Mrs Hood and Jacob's Well volunteer Margaret Wells.
More trips are planned this year and anyone interested in lending their expertise – including arts teachers, welders, joiners, doctors, nurses and dentists – should call Jacob's Well on 01482 881162.