Links between St Mary’s School Hampstead and the Mary Ward Primary School and Children’s Home in Zimbabwe.

Background, 2008-2009

In 2008 the school launched a fundraising appeal to assist with the construction of a new hall, now our superb Mary Ward Hall. Our wonderfully generous and supportive parent body, including both current and past parents, together with a number of highly successful fundraising events, helped to raise over £241,000.

Under HMRC’s Gift Aid scheme, the school was able to claim back the tax that had been paid on the gifted money and this amounted to around £39,700. The Trustees, agreed that this would be used to further the school’s charitable objects by benefiting children at the Mary Ward Primary School and the Mary Ward Children’s Home in Zimbabwe who are less fortunate than our children here at St Mary’s.

Visit to Zimbabwe, May 2010

Harvey Rands, Chair of Trustees, visited Zimbabwe (at no expense to the School) in May 2010, to discuss with the Sisters support for the Primary School and Children’s Home. He visited the Mary Ward Sisters and the Jesuits in Harare and institutions run by the Mary Ward Sisters (as the local province of the Congregation of Jesus is known) in the Kwekwe area: the Children’s Home and Pre-School in Amaveni and the Mary Ward Primary School in Mbizo, as well as a local state school. The aim was to identify the existing resources and capacity of the Mary Ward Primary School and see what scope there might be to increase provision for the education of children from families not able to pay school fees. The educational needs and resources of the Mary Ward Children’s Home to pay fees for the education of the children in its care were also identified.

Both the Children’s Home and the Primary School are situated in townships where unemployment is extremely high, particularly at Amaveni. At the time of Mr Rands’ visit there were 73 children in the Children’s Home, ranging in age from new born babies to young adults. Most of the children are orphans, many as a result of the HIV epidemic. The Children’s Home pays for the education of all children in its care and also runs the Mary Ward Pre-School at Amaveni, with 66 pupils aged 3-5. The Mary Ward Primary School at Mbizo provides education to around 1000 children from age 4 to 14. As is customary in Zimbabwe, education is not free and at the time of Mr Rands’ visit 13 children at the school had their fees paid by the Mary Ward Sisters.

Spending the Gift Aid money

Following a report on the visit to Zimbabwe, the Trustees decided that a proportion of the Gift Aid money should be put towards improving ICT and the internet connection at the Mary Ward Primary School which, as well as the obvious educational advantages for the pupils there, would have the benefit of enabling closer contact to be established with St Mary’s School, Hampstead. They decided that remaining money should be given to the Mary Ward Children’s Home at Amaveni, to pay the educational fees and costs of children who are cared for there. The sum given for ICT was £2,726 and for education was £36,964.

St Mary’s School Charitable Support

We, at St Mary’s School, believe that the children live the Gospel values by engaging in action that helps those around them. The whole St Mary’s community works together to contribute to the common good. Each year the school supports two charities which are chosen by the children, parents and staff. This year, the charities that have been chosen are The Royal Free Hospital and The Great Ocean Clean Up.

In addition to these two charities, the School will promote local charities at specific points in the year. For instance, we collect clothes for men who are homeless prior to winter for The Contact Club. At Harvest Time, there are food drives for local charities including Doorstep and Little Village.

The School supports the work of CAFOD through specific fundraising days and also collaborates with local schools. We recently made a donation to a local Catholic secondary school to provide outside furniture, a school councillor and new Chapel chairs. This will directly benefit their pupils and enables them to have a more positive educational experience, especially when worshipping. We also have links to our local parish community alongside the Diocese. This academic year, the School supported the work of The Cardinal Hume Centre and raised over £6,000 for them.