Christmas Update

Here is our new school badge! let us know what you think!

Dear Friends,

Jan and Mike, on behalf of Extra Mile, wish everyone a Happy Christmas and New Year. We are so sorry not to have had time to send everyone a Christmas card but hope you’ll understand how little time we’ve had since Mike returned from Sierra Leone last week.

Whilst Mike was out there we held our first Governor’s Meeting and the staff and pupils completed their second main assessment and also their termly exam. Staff completed their end-of-term report cards and held a parents’ meeting to share their successes. Overall, pupil’s academic progress has been very good and with attendance at an encouraging 88%. We now have three full-time teachers, including the deputy Principal, two part-time teachers and four volunteer teachers. We offer bread and tea every morning at our ‘Breakfast Club’ from 7.30 till 8 am and a small drink of water at lunchtime, around 11.30am. Brian Hoy (ex-Bolton RUFC) has been with us for a month repairing the roof, building shelves and cupboards and re-organising the weather blinds, for which we are very grateful indeed. Mike ran two half-day computer workshops with one of his ex-pupils and a half-day teacher-training workshop before coming home, thankfully without any further illness.

Finally, another piece of good news is that our full-time teachers are now offering extra classes after school and at weekends for our Class X (NPSE primary class) to help them prepare for their forthcoming external exams in May 2017. We especially thank all our wonderful donors who have helped and supported Extra Mile once again this year.

Best wishes and God Bless you all.

Mike

PS We hope you like our new school logo at the top of this letter, which now forms our school badge. Extra Mile, Ober-Funkia Community Secondary School – EMOFCSS

The school opens!

Good afternoon, on a very wet and windy Sunday, (18th September, 2016). Only another two months left of the ‘rainy’ season, “glug!”. One benefit of so much water is that Jan (one of our volunteers in SL) has transplanted most of Africa’s flora now, and hopefully its all going to filter out most of the salt crystals blown in from the sea which corrodes everything so quickly here.

With all the rain, the leaks from the roof into all the classrooms have increased. We tried to spread more than twelve huge, blue tarpaulins across the roof but sadly the rain crept beneath them and over a few days the leaks started again. Time for more serious action and this time we built sloping, wooden frames covered with eight feet long zinc panels with guttering, to run water off into a new water tank we’d built at the back of the school, sadly we've had no water for almost six months. Over the course of the month of August we stemmed the flow to a few drops wiped off the desks each day. Only then could we finish off the plastering and later the painting of the classroom walls and corridor before the pupils came for induction on the 12th September.

A phone call on Tuesday last week to tell me of the sudden death of one of our former headteachers. A stroke had paralysed him for the last two years. We had visited him only the week before to put a canvas over his leaking roof. Forty-eight years is no age to die. Rest in Peace, Komba Mbayo.

The last of our three volunteers has now left, back to Texas via Brussels. We’ll miss his ‘southern drawl’. He was a little bruised as he left, having ‘flipped’ off his bike and onto the road when he and Ismael tried to share a ride the night before.

We began interviewing pupils and their parents/guardians on the 18th August. We had filled all our places by the following day. Stories of complete destitution and despite such poverty, many of the orphans of ebola had been 'adopted' and now seek an education with Extra Mile. Traumatic interviews were only part of our difficulties, the turning away of so many more pupils and their guardians over the pervious four weeks was equally hard. Every day people would come from miles around, through intensive thunderstorms and unbearably hot days, only to be told that, ‘the school done fl-op’ (full up). Even today another two ‘aunty’s’ prostrated themselves on our verandah, praying and pleading that I would  ‘admit’ their wards. If only we could build another ten classrooms, but even then we would need another ten. Our mission now is to do the best we can to raise the hopes of those pupils we have admitted into the school and help them achieve the impossible, an enjoyable and successful education.

Please pray that we can achieve this ambition.

Mike.