Trinity's link school in Tombo, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Mtweni (preferred spelling) is a Senior Secondary School in an area of South Africa formerly known as the Transkei. It serves boys and girls between the ages of 16 and 18 years and has an adjoining Junior Secondary School (Tombo School) that is its main feeder school. Both schools lie within the village of Tombo which is on the main road between Port St John’s and Umtata. Port St John’s is a resort town (relatively undeveloped), on the Wild Coast which is an area of outstanding coastal scenery with spectacular Indian Ocean beaches.
The students are drawn from a wide area of the rural landscape, with many having to walk up to eight kilometres to get to school each day. On a recent visit, many of the pupils of Tombo School were absent owing to the fact that recent rains had made many of the streams they had to cross impassable!
The school was one of the first to be built in the area and has received little in the way of financial support every since. This has resulted in the very fabric of the school deteriorating to such a degree that education becomes difficult. One classroom was completely out of use, owing to rotten floorboards until we paid for a new concrete floor to be installed. This has resulted in the new space offering an opportunity for the school to house a Library for the first time. In the summer of 2010 thousands of books arrived at Mtweni, courtesy of donations of unwanted literature by Trinity Parents. Tombo School also received hundreds of books which will help to ensure that when the pupils arrive at Mtweni, they are equipped with the necessary level of literacy. Many of the books destined for Tombo came from Ridgeway Primary School which has twinned with Tombo School. A hugely generous donation of books was also made by Richard Heath (Parent) of Heath Educational Books. In the container used to transport the books, there was a substantial amount of school furniture, some sports equipment and sportswear. The teachers and students at the school were delighted and very grateful to receive all of these goods.
Besides providing a classroom and books for the school, Trinity has also contributed through the provision of lap-tops, audio visual equipment and classroom furniture and tools to assist with the maintenance of the grounds. Our long term project remains to provide the school with flush latrines to replace the distinctly unhealthy pit latrines currently in use. Thanks to numerous fund-raising events, we are now two thirds the way towards reaching the sum of £12,000 required to build this facility.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of our link has been the visits made by Trinity staff to Mtweni. Self-funded, several teachers have made the trip to South Africa and become involved with some teaching at the school. A great deal has been learnt in terms of our understanding of the difficulties of attempting to teach young people in primitive surroundings. We may complain when our IT plays up, but at least we have the IT to complain about!
It is hoped that students from Trinity will take the opportunity to use part of their Gap year to make a contribution to supporting Mwteni with a planned residential visit to the school.