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.