A colleague handed an advert, in a teacher magazine, to Claire Lintern in 2010. She applied to become a volunteer with Extra Mile and taught at Bishop Jane Middleton High School in Goderich, Sierra Leone. It would have been a daunting challenge for anyone to have gone out to West Africa for even a couple of months, but Claire wanted to volunteer for a programme lasting a ‘full’ academic year. When Mike showed Claire the bare science laboratory without stools or benches, that was fine but moreover, when a photograph of the totally empty, science equipment cupboard was shown to Claire there was not even a flicker of disbelief. ‘Not even a test tube’ to help her work was enough to deter her enthusiasm. “If these are the problems which Sierra Leone teachers have to put up with, then so can I”. Today, a year on in August 2013 Claire is preparing to go and live and work in Sierra Leone permanently. Claire was able to send us regular updates and also wrote a weekly blog for her friends, telling us about the constant power cuts, unreliable water supply, teacher strikes and the latest political problems. Claire walked the ten minutes to school every morning and soon became a key figure in its management, delivering teacher-training workshops, organizing the school timetable and running the whole exam programme.
There is little doubt that Bishop Jane’s Middleton’s High School will be the poorer for her leaving, yet she’ll continue to work locally in Goderich, at least in the near future and hopefully retain her close links with Extra Mile, its volunteers and its staff. We wish her every success.