Pupils from Bedales Prep Dunhurst were delighted to discover that their fundraising efforts had helped to build a new classroom for El Jilguero School, Miraflor, Nicaragua. The pupils also took part in a competition to design a mural for the new classroom and enjoyed viewing images of their winning designs gracing the wall of the Nicaraguan school.
The designs were selected as part of a competition to create a mural on the theme of ‘What Dunhurst means to me’. The entries were judged by members of all ages from the El Jilguero community and they were so impressed with all the Dunhurst entries that they were unable to choose just one so decided to create a design based on a fusion of a selection of images. The Nicaraguan pupils also designed a mural to mirror the partnership between Dunhurst and El Jilguero School, Miraflor, Nicaragua. For many years Dunhurst has supported this school through a variety of fundraising activities to help the children of coffee growing families in Nicaragua receive an education. This partnership has been facilitated by the owner of fairtrade coffee company Hada del Café, Martina Gruppo.
At a recent Dunhurst school assembly, Martina gave a presentation to show the outcome of the Nicaraguan mural competition and talked about how the mural was received by the teachers and pupils at the Nicaraguan school. In her blog following her recent visit to oversee the building and painting of the new classroom, Martina said: “I had completely underestimated how this community felt about what had been done for them. Living in an isolated community where they rarely saw foreigners and with no other outside help for the education of their children or assistance with their further education this was an event which was to be celebrated; they wanted to show their appreciation to all of us and that party atmosphere started in the farmer’s meeting…”
The painting was carried out by the El Jilguero community, pupils of the school and Martina and her volunteers under the guidance of a local Mural artist. The El Jilguero community were so delighted with the mural and the new building that they organised a big inaugural celebration on completion.
Over the last eight years Dunhurst has raised £25,000 for much needed equipment and building improvements for the two main schools in the coffee farming community of Miraflor: This has included the building of new lavatories, a classroom and a playground at Esquela Vincente Talavera and a new classroom at the nearby Escuela Eljilguero.
Commenting on the schools partnership, Dunhurst’s Outreach co-ordinator, Louise Banks, said: “The new classroom at Escuela Eljilguero will have a range of additional uses including a community meeting room and school canteen. Martina has managed to combine her Hada del Café coffee business trips with sustaining links between our schools. It has been a very effective and productive way to manage this global schools partnership – having someone who knows exactly what’s needed by the Nicaraguan community and ensuring that the money raised gets put to good use.”
Dunhurst Head, Jane Grubb, said: “This partnership has given our pupils an insight into the lives of their contemporaries who live in a very different part of the world where access to learning and the chance to shape their own destiny is extremely difficult. In addition to fundraising and supporting the community initiative to provide learning facilities in Miraflor, our pupils have been able to make language links with Escuela Eljilguero and Martina showed photos of the Nicaraguan pupils reading letters written in Spanish from Dunhurst’s Block 2 (Year 7) Extended Language learners. They were enthralled to see their letters in the hands of Nicaraguan pupils.”
Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.