Crafts for Charity – puppets with a purpose!
27th February 2015

As part of Oundle School’s Community Action Crafts for Charity, nine pupils have been busy making puppet kits and toys for former French teacher and now Networking and Training Co-ordinator at The Bethany Children's Trust, Carolyn Gent, to take out to Zambia when she visits this week.

Carolyn is travelling to Wukwashi Wa Nzambi which is run by Joyce and Henry Mutembu on the Copperbelt in Zambia and works with children living with disabilities and their families. 


Carolyn commented, “In Zambia, children with disabilities are often stigmatised and hidden away; they seldom receive an education and rarely take part actively in their communities. Through Wukwashi's work, this is beginning to change. They run a network of support groups for the children and their families, ending their sense of isolation and providing practical care.”


The support work includes a team of dedicated Wukwashi volunteers who are trained and coached by physiotherapists and who give the children weekly therapy and teach the parents to do appropriate exercises with their children. Other  support includes transport for visits to the local Cure clinics, where they receive medical care and operations, also subsidised by Wukwashi where needed, some of which cure children completely; mobility aids, including wheelchairs , walking frames and artificial limbs, which mean that parents are no longer forced to carry their children on their backs; hearing aids and other equipment to promote independence. They also run parents' forums at which medical experts teach the parents about conditions such as cerebral palsy and epilepsy, giving them information and strategies to manage the conditions.  They source places for children in three of the few schools in Zambia for children with special needs and run their own school in Wukwashi for those who cannot access those places. And they run an annual camp, where children and their parents can simply have fun together.


Carolyn added, “Wukwashi's work is transformational, and the support of Oundelians, both through fundraising and through the puppet kits that I am taking out with me this week, really will enhance the lives of children who used to be forced to live on the margins of society.”

The Bethany Children’s Trust works entirely through indigenous, church-led projects, where local people meet local needs. It provides financial support, advice, guidance and training, and advocacy, when appropriate. Its aim is always to avoid creating dependency or patronising the people with whom it partners, but rather to recognise their gifts and skills, and their commitment, competence and superior understanding of their own culture, and to work in such a way as to 'put themselves out of a job', once the project partner is self-sustaining.    

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Approximately 350 Oundle pupils are engaged during the year in providing service in the community in Oundle and surrounding villages and as far afield as Corby, Kettering and Peterborough as part of the School’s Community Action programme. Pupils work in schools (including nine special schools) and nurseries, with the elderly and infirm; provide drama for special needs schools, environmental support work at the country park; offer ICT lessons for beginners; help at a local special needs club and produce a Community Newspaper (Oundle Chronicle) to name but a few of the 50+ activities. 

Pupils also help with Inner city holiday schemes and have regularly slept rough to raise money for St Basils’ homeless shelter in Birmingham.

Head of Community Action, Liz Dillarstone commented, “The girls have worked really hard and have thoroughly enjoyed making these puppet kits for the children in Zambia. Back in October 2014, I was fortunate to travel out to GilGil Special School in Kenya and use similar kits made by the girls with a group of children with learning disabilities. As well as teaching the children important skills like sewing the kits provide a wonderful interactive resource for the classroom.”


Background Information on Oundle School

Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.


The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.


At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion due to open April 2015. 


There are currently 1100 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 850 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11. 

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