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Charitable students set their sights on helping in Africa
5th January 2017

CHARITABLE students have their sights firmly fixed on a project to improve people’s vision in Africa.

Barnard Castle School’s charities committee has been drafted in to help a spectacle recycling project for residents of Saiwa Swamp National Park, Kenya. They have begun collecting old spectacles and glass cases which will be donated to a village eye clinic. Students are also appealing to local opticians for help in assessing the prescriptions and labelling the glasses. Saiwa Swamp National Park is the home of the grey crowned crane, which, 25 years ago, was the subject of a BBC documentary filmed by Barnard Castle School biology teacher Sam Forsyth.

He said: “I’ve kept in touch with a friend I made over there, Maurice Wanjala, and I hope to take out a case full of old specs when I visit him at Easter, a recce for a possible school expedition to the national park.

“Maurice is working with a local optician to set up an eye clinic in the village and any glasses we can collect will be really useful. Ultimately, they hope to set up a business making their own spectacles.”

While he is in Kenya, Mr Forsyth hopes to assess the region as a possible destination for a school expedition.

“Senior pupils would work on the glasses project, help with English and science in school and do some conservation work,” he said. “We are also trying to raise £14,000 to build a new education and visitor centre with tourist guesthouse to generate income. We would time the school visit to help with the building work.”

School charities committee member Ardin Jacques said: “We are always very keen to support good causes both locally and internationally and this specs initiative will have an incredible impact on people’s lives by harnessing something we often leave unused, lying around the house.”

Anyone wishing to donate glasses or help the project can contact Mr Forsyth at ssf@barneyschool.org.uk.