Friday, 18 February 2011

Sierra Leone Update

Probably the last thing you heard about the Sierra Leone Project was the staff pantomime at Christmas.  We raised around £1400 from that event and had great fun doing it (thanks Sally Rowley!).

Since then, as well as selecting staff and students for this October’s trip, we have been working hard with the Ballanta Music Academy and the JT Reffell as follows:

·         We continue to pay £600 a quarter year to employ a Sierra Leonean national, Fumi, the Ballanta’s administrative lead.  She, to all intents and purposes, runs the Academy and without her it would struggle on a daily basis.
·         We continue to sponsor 15 students through the Academy.  Seven of these are privately sponsored, but a further 8, auditioned from the JT Reffell School, are paid for by the fund.  Each student costs £100 a year.
·         With our encouragement the Ballanta has now reached 100 students.  On the back of this we agreed to sponsor a further 10 students through the Academy, auditioned again from the JT Reffell, at a cost to the Project of £1000.
·         We have also paid £200 to the Ballanta to upgrade their generator room (as the exhaust was seeping up through the ceiling into the main office!).  The generator, if you remember, was one provided by us 18 months ago.
·         We have transferred £1000 to the JT Reffell to enable them to start the building of a canteen to feed the children.  When we visited last October the cooking and feeding was exposed to the elements.  The total project cost here is in the region of £8000.
·         We have started looking for contributors to support the purchase of a PA and back-line for the Ballanta’s Jazz Band (their only band, and one of the only ways they can make money).  We ‘re looking for £2500 to complete this purchase.
·         Finally we have just paid £350 to the Ballanta to enable their grade students to sit ABRSM exams this summer, and we have bought and sent out the grade books they need.  It’s interesting to note that ABRSM travel to Sierra Leone every year to complete this work.

What we need to continue to do is raise money for the Project.  With this in mind there are 3 major events planned:

1.   Battle of the Bands.   On Fri 25 March we’re holding a Battle of the Bands in the Sportshall.  The turn out of bands looks very promising and we will be advertising more about this after half-term.  There will be a small entrance cost for this event – all of which will go to the Project.  The gig aims to help select bands for this year’s Event on the Lawn (yes there is one……!).
2.   Each one of the students who travelled to Sierra Leone last year have been asked to personally raise £150 in the following months.  One event has already taken place: a valentines cake sale, which raised £140!  Small, but nonetheless important events, are planned including a 5-a-side football tournament, a Karen Christensen pamper evening and others.  Watch out for these!
3.   Three Peaks Challenge.   A group of us will be aiming to complete the Three Peaks (Snowdon, Scafell and Ben Nevis) over a weekend in the summer term.  We have not yet asked for volunteers to do this, but we hope to make it a cross-school thing.  I’d hope we could raise a good deal of money for the Project via sponsorship here – it’s going to be painful!
4.   Event on the Lawn.   We aim to hold The Event on the Lawn 2011 in September.  I’m guessing the format will be the same as 2 years ago…..  Watch this space.