Giving poor children of India chance of a decent education

Reporter:

Rob Bellis

For the past six years, local fundraisers have been working closely with a school for some of the poorest youngsters in Bangalore.

Bank of America, which has a base in Chester, has helped the Hope school in Tannery Road to grow and improve and recently assisted in moving pupils to a new building with valuable outside space.

That space is about to be improved with the addition of fixed playground equipment paid for by the efforts of eight of the bank’s associates from Chester.

The group has been raising money in a variety of imaginative ways and members are about to travel to India to install the equipment.

Among them is Debbie Spanner, who lives in Wrexham.

She said: “Bangalore is one of India’s fastest growing markets but, while it is home to some of the country’s richest people, it is also home to some of its poorest.
These children come to school to be children. If they are not there they are working on the street selling incense sticks or at home looking after their brothers and sisters so their parents can go out and work.”

The Hope school in Tannery Road is part of the Hope Foundation and was started in 1993. Beginning with just 15 pupils, it has grown to accommodate some 285 youngsters from some of the most deprived areas of the city.

With Bank of America’s help the school has now moved to larger premises which will be visiting the eight associates from Chester.

“We will all be doing an hour’s teaching,” Debbie continued. “We will be building the playground equipment. We have provided outdoor equipment in the past but it has been stolen so this will be fixed, concreted in.

“That should take us about two days and for the rest of the time we will simply be on hand to do whatever maintenance work needs doing.”

The group pledged to raise £1,000 each to fund the equipment, and some of them have come up with some very interesting fundraising ideas.

Amanda Newsome is currently in the midst of running four separate half marathons while Ryan Edghill opted for a sponsored 24-hour golf marathon at Helsby Golf Club.

A charity bag pack at M&S in Cheshire Oaks and a penpals initiative with local children from Weston Rhyn Primary School in Shropshire and Whitby Heath Primary School, cake sales and a PS3 FIFA World Cup competition all helped towards the group’s target.

Fundraising efforts culminated in a charity gala at Llay Royal British Legion last weekend.

Debbie added: “It’s been a lot of time and effort from everybody involved but they’ve all been fantastic and nobody has wavered in their support. Everyone has been amazingly generous, not just financially but with their time and support. We’d like to thank everyone who has been with us throughout this journey, both on a personal level and on behalf of Bank of America.

“We all want to get out there now, start building the equipment, planting trees and painting walls and see it come to fruition.”

So what spurred Debbie on over the past months of fundraising?

“I think it’s because I’m a mum and because of the way our children live in this country,” she said. “Although we all have problems because of the way the economy is at the moment, like the headteacher of one of the schools who has supported us put it, when you look at the way people live in other countries it makes you grateful for what we have here.

“For me it’s about doing what we can to improve the lives of these children and to simply allow them to be children.

“If my son were ever to be in that position I’d like to think that someone would reach out to him. I was brought up to believe that charity starts at home and if the global market is shrinking we should all do what we can for our neighbours.”

The group is leaving for Bangalore at the end of October for 10 days, but that won’t be the end of the link between the region and India.

Whitby Heath School has said that its pupils will remain in contact with the youngsters in India and will continue to raise funds for the school.

See full story in the Leader

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