Human face of world poverty

14th May 2004 at 01:00
David Henderson and Neil Munro report from the Catholic headteachers' annual conference in Crieff

Think of global citizenship at Our Lady's High in Motherwell and you might well think of the community of Kamwokya in Uganda.

The 650-pupil North Lanarkshire secondary has had links with a Christian community 10 minutes' drive from the capital of Kampala for the past four years through the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund.

It routinely relates cross-curricular work on values and citizenship to the poverty-stricken Ugandan community, riven by HIV and Aids.

In 1960, life expectancy in Kamwokya was 43. Now it has fallen to 40, Liam Mulrooney, depute head at Our Lady's, said.

Some international projects fade quickly but Our Lady's has sustained interest by recruiting S1 pupils when they first join the school and involving all departments, Mr Mulrooney, former head of religious education, said. Even the school cleaner is involved. She is an African married to a Scot.

Mr Mulrooney believes that pupils see the "human face of world poverty" when they exchange letters with pupils at the Kamwokya school, which doubles as a church and where four classes each of 40 children meet in a confined area.

Pupils from Our Lady's raise money, make products to pass on, donate materials and books, study African art and music, and prepare African dishes in home economics classes.

Great Western Road in Glasgow is the place to buy essential African foods, Mr Mulrooney has discovered.

Six North Lanarkshire schools have now taken part in an exchange with Kamwokya after joining the project at Our Lady's.

"It does make a difference, a dramatic difference for some pupils," Mr Mulrooney said.

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