We arrived at Hope and Joy and were greeted by the children singing and clapping, which was a wonderful welcome. Before we were able to tour the rest of the 5 acre site, the head teacher asked to meet with us in a newly constructed office adjoining the old goat house - which is now refurbished as a basic classroom. The headteacher explained that she had faced many challenges and that the one thing she believed would help to develop the school numbers was to have a levelled playground. With this in mind she authorised the quarrying of topsoil in exchange for the playing field to be levelled. She then made the decision to permit further quarrying of the hillside in exchange for 'some improvements' to the school, which she was unable to define.
The quarrying she authorised became so extreme that the 4 classroom block, latrines and small office became 'unsafe for children because of the precipitous drop in front of the school buildings'. As a direct consequence of this the school has had to relocate to temporary buildings by the old goat house and all of the existing buildings developed by our charity have been demolished, effectively negating our work of the past 10 years.
The head teacher stated that the quarrying firm has paid her the money with which to rebuild the structures to their original design specifications, and work on the classroom block has begun. All of this was only discovered on our visit to Hope and Joy, and the head teacher had been too afeared to discuss her erroneous actions with us as they have led to the destruction of the existing school. The outcome of this is that the infrastructure we had provided is no longer there, the existing 5 acre site is effectively a terraced quarry and the rebuilding of the replacement school is underway.
The objective of our visit was to sign the project, which had comprised a 4 classroom block, office, toilet block, kitchen block and an additional 3 classroom block, over to the newly formed trustee committee. This action has taken place and the 7 trustees are now faced with the task of rebuilding the school whilst attempting to continue with the education of the children in the temporary accommodation by the old goat house.
Whilst I have no doubt in my mind that the head teacher had the best of intentions in deciding to authorize this quarrying, it has led to the current situation and she will now need to use the money she has received from the quarrying company to replace the buildings.
All future decisions regarding the management and development of the site will be made by the 7 trustees and a majority vote, which will prevent any such catastrophic unilateral decision being made in the future.
Personally this has been a shocking and extremely distressing visit, but we now need to look to the future as the money given to the head teacher facilitates the rebuild, which will hopefully become even better than the previous structures.We wish the trustees good luck in their new positions and ask that they support the head teacher in her efforts to correct the error she made.