West Mersea: Donor’s £15k boost for African children

Catherine Bullen

Catherine Bullen - Credit: nick strugnell

A CHARITY working to improve the lives of poverty stricken communities in rural Africa has received a cash boost.

The Catherine Bullen Foundation, based in West Mersea, was well on the way to raising the £70,000 needed for a third dormitory at the Eiseb Primary School Hostel in eastern Namibia.

Now the charity, which was set up by Roger and Linda Bullen in memory of their daughter after she died during a trip to Africa in 2002, has been boosted with an anonymous donation of £15,000.

Chairman Mr Bullen said: “Our application ticked all the boxes and met the donor’s criteria to such an extent that it resulted in us getting the maximum amount possible, for which we are extremely grateful.

“The total cost of the project is £70,000, and with this grant we now have a balance of £11,077 to raise before we can start to build.” The grant came from a family foundation, which wishes to remain anonymous, but which supports projects relating to population control, education, health and the environment, at home and abroad.

Fifth year medical student Catherine travelled to Namibia to go on a safari before taking up placements in Zambia and Tanzania.

However, two days into the trip she became ill with a virulent strain of gastroenteritis and died.

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The plight of the hostel, which looks after more than 200 children, has been featured in the East Anglian Daily Times and the Namibian press.

More than half the children have slept on the cold floor of their rooms for the past two years, while up to three children are forced to share a single mattress in both the girls’ and boys’ dormitories.

Some children have been forced to sleep under the beds of their hostel mates due to a chronic shortage of space.

Teacher Esther Kazongari said: “The fact is that we are the only school for a huge area given the remote location of Eiseb, and has resulted in the school having to accommodate up to 200 children in the hostel which was originally built to house 60 children.

“This is the reality on the ground;we are simply overwhelmed with the demand for hostel facilities, and do not know what else to do.

“It is disheartening to see the children sleep the way they do.”

The new dormitory is part of a larger project to upgrade the hostel and the foundation is working with Komeho Namibia Development Agency, the regional Ministry of Education and the Namibia German Special Initiative Programme (NGSIP).

Mr Bullen added: “The NGSIP has advised us that it hopes to start work in June 2013, so it would be advantageous to us to have raised the full amount by then, so that we could use its contractors and achieve economies of scale to save costs.”

Visit www.namibia-aid.org.uk to make a donation.