June 2019 – a Month to Remember

Bo teachers visit UK and join the Day of the African Child

In June 2019 we welcomed four teachers from Bo; John Sandi, Lucy Amara, Kula Fangawa and Francis Jusu. This was the second part of a British Council funded Connecting Classrooms project. For some of us it was like welcoming old friends, for others the excitement of having a ‘real person’ from Bo in their classrooms, where pupils had been learning about life in Sierra Leone, but now met with that life, face-to-face. Staff and pupils exchanged details about what they had been learning around Global Goal 13: Climate Action and about recycling and reusing waste. Ecobricking had very much become a feature of school life both here and in Bo, thanks to our project.

As well as visiting all 15 of our link schools in Warwick District, the four experienced as much of UK life as we could possibly fit into their three week visit; a trip to the RSC to see The Taming of the Shrew, visits to big cities Birmingham, Coventry and London, time with a foodbank in Leamington learning that not all of the west is affluent, an evening with Songlines Community Choir, spectating county athletics, fun at Ten Pin bowling and meals in many different friends’ homes. Sharing all this was an absolute pleasure for all involved and many of us have cemented professional friendships for life.

The highlight of their visit for us was bringing together 550 children for the Day of the African Child, this year our 10th Anniversary. As usual the children were treated to six workshops throughout the action-packed day.

Our four visitors told West African stories and ran Q&A sessions. Kwame from African Activities helped pupils produce printed fabric using Adinkra Symbols. Children burnt off some energy with dancing, learning an African playground game (Boys Norty) and drumming. Finally, in the huge marquee pupils sung their hearts out and danced to songs such as ‘Tem am tenki’ and ‘You are my brother.’

During the lunch break we fitted in a skype call with Bo where, despite technical problems, we could see lots of Bo school children gathered together at the OWL centre. We then paraded round the field with our banners and flags to the sounds of drumming.

We were delighted to welcome many VIPs, including Hayley Coyne and Mike McPaul from the British Council and Hannah Dixon, the Send My Friend to School campaigns manager. Others were: Bishop John of Warwick, April Gold representing the DBE, Chair of WDC Cllr George Illingworth, Deputy Mayor of Leamington Cllr Susan Rasmussen, Mayor of Warwick Cllr Neale Murphy and John Holland representing our MP Matt Western. They all spoke very highly of the children’s hard work in campaigning on important issues like the environment and children’s right to education – messages which came across powerfully in two pupil-led speeches in the Finale.

The day left no doubt in anyone’s minds that the school partnerships we sustain through OWL do a very powerful job in developing global citizens who care about each other and their planet.

OWL is very grateful to Leamington Town Council and the British Council, without whose funding these events would not have been possible.

Report by Liz Garrett

Day of the African Child - Final Session
Day of the African Child – Final Session