Pupils linked by a jumper

11th April 2003 at 01:00
Welsh pupils are hoping to trace the new owner of their school sweatshirt. Adi Bloom reports

IT is a situation familiar to every teacher: an item of school uniform is taken home and worn by another child. But at Bryn-y-Mor primary, in Swansea, the journey was to the war-torn Iraqi town of Umm Qasr, just across the Kuwaiti border.

A newspaper picture of an Iraqi boy receiving food rations from coalition forces was spotted by Janet Greig, head of Bryn-y-Mor, who recognised his sweatshirt as part of her school's uniform.

"From time to time we collect lost property and take it to Oxfam. That is the only way I think this can have reached Iraq," she said.

"It's incredible, really. But you can actually see the name of the school in the photograph."

The faded red sweatshirt is emblazoned with "Ysgol Gymraeg" (Welsh school), the name of the Welsh-language primary and its motto, "Keep your language, keep your country." It also depicts a rising sun.

"He must have liked the colour of the jumper, because it's bright red," said Nia Thomas, 11, a Year 6 pupil at Bryn-y-Mor. "I'd like to ask him how many choices of jumpers there were, and why he chose that one. And I'd like to ask what the problems are with the war."

Donated clothes are sold at a market in Umm Qasr so the boy could have chosen the sweatshirt . Nia's classmate, Cameron Plumb, 11, is puzzled by this choice. "I wouldn't choose it from a market stall. It's not what people wear outside school," he said. "Maybe he thought he looked smart in it."

Mrs Greig is now attempting to trace the Iraqi boy via the photographer who took the picture. She has discussed the war with pupils, but believes that they would benefit from being able to communicate with a child of their own age in Iraq.

Nia would welcome this opportunity. But, she said, the Iraqi boy was unlikely to know the origins of his shirt: "He wouldn't know what the writing says, because the language is Welsh. It's very, very unlikely he can speak Welsh."

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