Penrice in Kissi Town

Penrice Academy Staff Create a Classroom in Kissi Town, Sierra Leone

During the Easter break, Mr Knipe, Miss Cox and Mr Johnson visited Kissi Town, Sierra Leone, to share news of your International Charity Project, #Penrice3580.

The visit followed 8 weeks of fundraising by students, including a Fun Run featuring 700 children in February, a whole week’s worth of charity activities in March and a 24 Hour Charity Sports event at the end of the Spring Term.

In total the Project raised over £16,500 in one term, with news of the success making it onto BBC Spotlight, where Head Boy Gabe and School Reporter Bella spoke proudly of the school’s efforts.

Mr Knipe, Assistant Principal who first brought the charity to the Academy Student Council before Christmas, said: “Last term was an incredibly special one for the school community. In those 8 weeks our students showed imagination, selflessness, compassion, determination and a confidence that inspired everyone at Penrice.”

“We could not wait to get out to Sierra Leone to tell them all about it.”

Mr Knipe, joined by English Teachers Miss Cox and Mr Johnson, spent 10 days on camp, with the mission to restock the Medical Centre supplies and help finish a brand new classroom block for the local children.

They took all the medication added to the school’s donation box last term, which was designed and painted by students, and restocked the clinic with basic medicines such as ibuprofen, paracetamol, plasters, bandages and dental hygiene medicine – all of which was severely lacking.

Mr Knipe said: “The camp’s Medical Centre serves the needs of 27,000 people. When we arrived the shelves were almost bare, so to see them filled in minutes with the donations from people around St Austell was amazing.”

They also took with them just £1500 of the total amount raised, to purchase 3.5 tonnes of rice for the community, which will feed 600 of the poorest families in the refugee camp for up to a week.

Kissi Town has been severely hit by widespread malnutrition, as well as the recent Ebola Crisis, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Mr Knipe, Miss Cox and Mr Johnson also visited the town’s Ebola Cemetery and were horrified by the numbers of graves; over 10,000 people died from Ebola in this community alone.

Chris said: “Because of these deaths, many children are forced to work to support their families, rather than go to school. This is what affected the children at Penrice the most; this is why they have put everything they can into this project.”

They visited the Freetown rubbish tip where a shanty town community lives off scavenging and recycling bottle tops, glass and metal – all of which the world will have seen on Comic Relief in recent years – and Freetown Hospital, to identify areas where Project 3580 can help support Healthcare.

Miss Cox said: “Having strangers wave at you driving through the camp, running children coming over to hold your hand, receiving words of thanks from the camp elders – all demonstrates the gratitude felt for the money raised and supplies donated by Penrice students. It was such an incredible thing to see.”

In the run up to the visit, as part of March’s BBC School Report, Bella from Year 9 interviewed some of the children from Kissi Town over the phone. Many of them asked Bella for just one thing.

“We were so pleased to be able to provide the camp with 20 footballs for the children,” Mr Johnson said. “They love football in Kissi Town and we enjoyed many games with them while we were there.”

The new classroom, complete with the Penrice logo and a plaque featuring the names of Penrice students who raised the most money during the Spring Term, has been named ‘The Penrice Classroom’. The new classroom features over 50 new desks, a blackboard and freshly painted walls, all paid for with the generous donations from Penrice students. An extra 350 children will now be able to go to school.

But the Project doesn’t end there, as Penrice Academy gears up for phase two; sending the shipping container.

Mr Knipe said: “Our students have instantly changed peoples’ lives with relatively little money, but we are all set to do even more. We’re busy collecting clothes, books, toys and medical equipment to fill our ‘Penrice Container’, which will be shipped from Cornwall to Sierra Leone this year.”

“It has been a wonderful experience to see the difference the community of St Austell – and our students – have made to the lives of thousands of people, to do something tangible in one of the most deprived communities in one of the poorest countries in the world. Penrice Academy – you guys should be very proud of yourself.”

Read more about last term’s fundraising here.

See pictures from their visit to Kissi Town in our gallery.

Read about Miss Cox’s Experience in Kissi Town.

Watch the full video of their experience on our Facebook page. Music: Music By Marcus