International School Information

June Hartranft Memorial Primary School:

Queen Edith's Partner School in Moyamba, Sierra Leone

  

Mrs Lahai's Visit to Queen Edith

Miss Purser's (now Mrs Robinson) Visit to Sierra Leone

Thank you to all of you who followed my adventure with Snowy to Sierra Leone. We had a wonderful time and, as the Tweets showed, were made a huge fuss of. Here is a short summary of the trip which I hope gives you an insight to accompany the galleries of photos here. The photos are a representative selection of the ones I took from the different places I visited.

Sierra Leone is a beautiful country and the locals are welcoming, friendly and hospitable. They couldn’t have looked after me better. It is a big deal having a ‘pumweh’ (white man) visit their town and so everyone wanted me to see their house, school, church, offices, project etc. I visited a lot of places and people, and I was asked to give my ‘message from England’ to individuals and large audiences almost everywhere. This ranged from a meeting of headteachers, to the church congregation as well as the bishop, paramount chief and mayor. By the end I had a well-refined message about the value of education and school linking to deliver to anyone who asked!!

June Hartranft Memorial Primary School is a girls’ school which was established in 1968 by the United Methodist Church in memory of June Hartranft who set up a secondary school in Moyamba and dreamt of a feeder school. After she died from cancer in 1963, the UMC council decided to set up the school in her name. The school song tells part of that story and she is still held in very high esteem by the girls. The current headteacher was a founding pupil of the school and is the first former pupil to lead the school.

On arrival in Moyamba, the brass band processed me through the town into the school compound. They then performed a 3 hour welcoming ceremony which included speeches (from children and adults), exchange of gifts, singing, dancing, drama and the brass band.  It was quite extraordinary. I gave every child in the school a balloon which went down very well. During my time in the school, I saw a lesson, met all the classes and spent time being taught how to look after their school garden – weeding, preparing the soil and using traditional tools (hoes and scythes) to plant cassava sticks. The cassava crop will be sold to raise some money for the school. The children were delightful - bright and cheerful, full of joy and bounce which was remarkable given their lack of resources. We have a lot to learn from them. The school building had ceilings falling in, the children had built their own latrine at the school last year using materials that they contributed from their own land (eg sand, stones) - it was moving to see the pride with which they showed it to me. I saw only one story book in my whole time there which belonged to one of the little girls – it was her treasured possession. Almost every child had a pen/pencil and an exercise book. Many of the girls come to school without having eaten and thanks to the generous support of some American Methodists linked to June Hartranft’s family, they are able to give the girls two spoonfuls of food twice a week.

While I was there, it was clear that they are as committed to this partnership as we are and their gift (a hand carved wooden plaque of friendship and partnership) is a lovely expression of this. It is on the wall outside the staffroom so do have a look when you’re next in school. We are going to have to work hard to make the link sustainable though as Sierra Leone has no postal service beyond businesses in the capital city and their internet connections are very unreliable due to extreme difficulties with power supply and computer facilities. I was able to identify two possible routes to help with communication which I have promised to pursue over the summer to see if they lead us anywhere.

I hope the children will bring more news home from assemblies that I’m doing, but for now I hope the above at least gives you a snapshot.

We are looking forward to welcoming Rev Jane Lahai, the headteacher, here in October for a week where I am sure we will give her a true flavour of England. Any suggestions for how we can do that best, please let me know via the Queen Edith office.

Thank you :-)

Tsewo (my Mende name which means ‘they said it wouldn’t happen but it has’)

aka Miss Purser

 

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