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Newsletter 10. December 2008

_______________________________________________________________________                                                             THE BIG BREAKFAST

In 2008 the world saw a dramatic rise in food prices. As ever, the poorest people in the world were the worst affected. Ranking last in the United Nations Human Development Index, Sierra Leone is officially the poorest country in the world, with an average life expectancy of below 40 and where a third of children are underweight for their age. The subsistence farmers of Rogbonko must surely be the poorest of the poor. They strive to grow enough to feed their families year round, though in practise this rarely happens. Rises of up to 90% in food prices would have made this year’s ‘hungry season’ especially severe. There is a proven link with children’s school performance and nutrition, so it is with thanks to donations from our supporters we are able to tell you Rogbonko Village School Trust has helped families by running a Breakfast Club. Each of our 200 children received a meal of rice, fish and vegetables every day between July 15th and December 15th at a cost of  £1,500. Now that the harvest has arrived in Rogbonko the programme will be brought to an end. Our thanks to everyone who helped make the Breakfast Club possible.


We’re delighted to say the Patron’s Scheme, whereby we asked for 50 people to commit £100 a year in order to guarantee the future of the school, is off to a good start. So far we have 47 Patrons, including those of you who were already supporting us with regular donations. Now we’re looking for just three more patrons. As the recession begins to bite, we know everyone is tightening their belts. We are asking for just £25 per quarter guaranteed for 10 years. That’s a single takeaway, three bottles of wine, one and a half hardback books....


Imagine you had never seen a television before. One Saturday evening in February, children in Rogbonko were invited to come to school out of hours. The children sat in rows, with no idea what to expect. Minutes later they were watching images of a polar bear wake from hibernation in the deep snow of the Arctic, the opening sequence of the BBC’s Planet Earth series. A stunned silence was followed minutes later by a flurry of chatter as the children gradually made sense of the images. After the show pupils ran home with news of the television, and a short time later parents began to arrive at the school to see what their children were talking about. The next day we held a viewing for grown ups – none of whom had ever seen TV before either. In addition to a wide selection of educational DVD’s, including Planet Earth and the Blue Planet, we also sent children’s films, from classics such as The Wizard of Oz to modern favourites like Stuart Little – because every child deserves a little fun. And as Rogbonko is unable to receive network television – parents have no watershed worries!



Twenty children sat and passed the National Primary School Exam this year. All scored more than 300 out of a possible 400 marks. The school was congratulated by the school inspector for achieving some of the highest grades not just in the region, but in the entire country. Graduates of Rogbonko Village School have also taken all ten top places at Magburaka Secondary School end of year exams.


When Rogbonko Village School first opened in January 2003 all of our teachers were untrained volunteers. Two of those teachers accepted an offer by the Trust to pay for them to attend teacher’s training college in nearby Makeni. Our congratulations to James Fullah who graduated as a fully qualified teacher this year. Headmaster Augustine Kamara graduated in 2007.


Our thanks to PCET Publishing of Ealing who supply visual resources for schools and also Don . Don put us in touch with PCET and as a result two shipments of donated teaching aids have been sent to Rogbonko this year. They include maps of the world and the night sky, as well as diagrams of the human body and illustrated science books. The most recent shipment was worth £3250. And so generous have PCET been, that on both occasions we have been able to share our luck with five neighbouring primary schools.


We have three payments into the Rogbonko Village School Fund bank account which we are unable to match to any of our records. If you filled in a Patron standing order form, but forgot to write and let us know, do get in touch. We’d like to say thank you!