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17.04.2004 Diaspora News

Ipswich woman's plea for help

By Evenning Star
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A DESK and a pen are taken for granted by school children in Ipswich but in some parts of Ghana they are a luxury.

For those living in the villages around Garu in northeast Ghana the school day can be uncomfortable.

Forced to sit on a dusty floor and often using their fingers to write on the ground there are noticeable obstacles to youngsters' education.

This coupled with the cost of going to school means many lack quality education, spending their days at work to provide for their families.

The founder of an Ipswich charity was drawn to their plight by a group of missionaries and has since been sending money to the area through sponsorship and donations.

Support for World in Need was set up four years ago largely to help those in the Balkan states recovering from war.

But when founder and chairman, Violet Gitzer learnt of the plight of children in the poverty stricken area of Ghana a sponsorship scheme was established to help youngsters attending secondary school.

Today, the charity is also supporting younger children by raising cash to buy benches and slates for their schools.

Mrs Gitzer said: "I visited one school and there were no benches or desks, the children sit on the ground. They have nothing to write on.

"I feel sorry to see children who have to sit on the floor. It is terrible and really touched me."

With the help of Vincent Lubega, a catholic priest working in the area, Support for World in Need is providing these 7-11-year-olds with a more comfortable working environment.

Last month £1,000 was sent to the priest who will purchase benches, tables and slates for the schools.

Half of this money was donated by the Ipswich and Norwich Co-op's Community Dividend Fund, a scheme which sees dividend collectors donate their rewards points to charity.

The other money was raised through fundraising initiatives.

Mrs Gitzer added: "When we came back from Ghana we had a Ghanaian evening with food from the country and a video of the trip. We managed to raise £246 from that, I never expected to raise that much.

"We also run a lunch club and have coffee mornings and organise trips. We are also having a sponsored walk in June."

The charity is currently searching for more volunteers to help with these fundraising events and is also hoping to get more sponsors to help support older children with their education.

Mrs Gitzer said: "It costs £5 a month which goes direct to the White Fathers' Mission (so called because they wear white rather than black gowns). This sponsors a child to go to school or a polytechnic where they learn subjects such as dressmaking and carpentry and to be electricians. They can then work and help their families and the young can carry on going to school.

"The money helps pay for their schooling and buy food and clothes."

To become a sponsor or to make a donation contact Violet Gitzer on 01473 271671.

N The charity is currently trying to collect medical supplies for a hospital in Kosovo. Mrs Glitzer will be visiting the country next week, taking money and equipment to a hospital in Gracanica. Anyone who can help by supplying forceps, retractors, scissors, drills, respirators or other equipment should contact Mrs Glitzer on the number above.