Burhill Primary School Aiming To Provide Permanent Water Supply To Entire Ugandan Village

Burhill Primary School Aiming To Provide Permanent Water Supply To Entire Ugandan Village


Burhill Primary School in Hersham have held an Easter raffle in aid of raising funds for their Ugandan sister school, St Mary’s School.

The initiative is the latest in a series of ventures they hope will be able to raise enough money to provide a permanent water supply in Kimbo, near Kampala, Uganda, which is home to Burhill’s sister school St Mary’s.

For the past two and half years, Burhill Primary School have been working closely with their African sister school St Mary’s in Uganda which has 324 students, comprising also of children who have been orphaned.

It began when one of their former teaching assistants, Sandra Aviles-Martinez visited Uganda and took over some discontinued style Burhill jumpers for the students at St Mary’s who were unable to afford their own school uniform.

Since then, the relationship has grown and Burhill’s Christmas raffle raised enough money in 2016 to provide St Mary’s School with built toilet facilities which they previously didn’t have, using instead simply a hole in the ground, and also desks and chairs for the children to sit on instead of on the concrete floors.

Children of St Mary’s in Uganda wearing their own school uniforms (orange) and Burhill’s donated uniforms (red) sitting at their desks which were provided by Burhill Primary School through the proceeds of their Christmas Raffle.

The school has no electricity, no running water, just six classrooms for all 324 children.

In June last year, one of the mothers of a Burhill Primary School student Ashley Lovell organised a fundraising concert evening at St Peter’s Church in Hersham in which she arranged for The African Children’s Choir to perform alongside the Burhill Primary School Choir along with a sprinkling of celebrities including Shovell the percussionist from M People and Game of Thrones and Braveheart actor James Cosmo MBE

(you can read more about the concert here:


Hersham’s Mick Hucknall also generously donated gifts to raffle on the evening and the total amount raised was an impressive £5,000 with the event having cost her less than £30 to put on due to the huge amount of support she had garnered from the local community and businesses.

The money raised on the evening was split between three parties – The African Children’s Choir who performed on the night – themselves comprising of orphans from Uganda who tour and perform to raise money for their fellow orphans in Africa.

The money raised also went to St Mary’s School in Uganda (Burhill’s sister school) which went towards providing a permanent water supply to the school, a proposed teaching block near the school to try and attract teachers to live/work at the school and bursaries for more orphans to attend the school.

The last third of the money raised went to St Peter’s Church who hosted the evening and contributed to their international and local commitments to projects such as Walton and Hersham Foodbank.

Burhill Primary School kindly donated their proceeds on the night to St Mary’s School in Uganda.

Since the concert evening in June 2017, many of the Burhill students have continued to raise money for St Mary’s School, often through their own initiative, with enterprising pursuits such as a lemonade sale, a Ugandan flag coloured mufti day and a cake sale.

A Burhill parent also ran a half marathon for St Mary’s and the teachers of Burhill Primary School kindly donated an array of impressive Easter Eggs and treats to raffle in aid of St Mary’s.

The children of St Mary’s enjoying their new consignment of Burhill School uniforms kindly donated by Burhill Primary with Sandra Aviles-Martinez, former Burhill Teaching Assistant.

Burhill Headteacher, Sally Hewlett-Taylor, said,

“The determination of the pupils here at Burhill to continue helping St Mary’s with fundraising initiatives means that we are thrilled to be able to, not only be in a position to provide a permanent water supply to the school of St Marys in Uganda, but also we’re pretty close to be able to provide a water supply for the entire village.

I’m extremely grateful to all our students, parents and staff who have helped us get so close to this incredible achievement. The difference in the quality of life of the children at St Mary’s now mean that they have basic equipment we all take for granted at school here and around the UK – running water, books, desks, toilets, school uniform.

Through Burhill’s work – this has become achievable and I’m very proud of everyone who has helped.”

Ashley Lovell, mother of Burhill year 3 student Dillon Townsend, and organiser of the fundraising concert evening, said,

“Having conceived and organised that wonderful evening in June last year at St Peter’s Church in Hersham where the children of Burhill came together with the African Children’s Choir to perform such uplifting songs at our local church was an incredible memory I’ll always behold.

The entire community came together – Burhill Primary, St Peter’s Church, the children, families and businesses of Hersham to help make it such a memorable and magical evening.

The money raised on the night has meant that the children of St Mary’s will no longer have to walk the equivalent distance of Hersham to Weybridge just to get clean drinking water and can continue with their school work and to play as all school children should be able to do.

However, with this last push needed just another £2,500 – we will potentially be able to provide the entire village with a permanent water supply which is a phenomenal feat and something I feel confident we will manage to achieve.”

Anyone who wishes to help Burhill Primary School achieve the last £2,500 they need to be able to help St Mary’s School in Uganda by providing a permanent water supply to their whole village should contact head@burhill.surrey.sch.uk

Former Burhill Teaching Assistant Sandra Aviles-Martinez with some of the children of St Mary’s in Uganda

Water supply in Uganda:

Many people live in countries where the national economy is too poor to create water and toilet infrastructure at the scale they need. Construction can also be difficult in many places because of extreme geography – like deserts, mountains and jungle – and not enough trained experts who know how to find long-term solutions.

Governments may also let water and toilets get left behind while focusing on other important priorities, like industry, roads, schools and hospitals.

Vulnerable people in society are affected most by this lack of water and toilets. Those living in hard-to-reach areas can be forgotten entirely, poor people can be priced out, and groups perceived as different can be denied access to them. We work with these communities to help them defend their rights and gain the water and toilets they deserve.

Open sources of water are rarely safe. When open to nature they can be contaminated with household and industrial waste, animal faeces, parasites and waterborne diseases like cholera.

They are also unreliable, drying up or running out. This means needing to find a new source, which could be many miles away. A community cannot move every time this happens. It is therefore much better and safer to create a water facility that is local, using water that needs only minimal filtering – like groundwater or rainwater – and owned collectively by a community.

People sometimes boil dirty water to make it safer, but there are significant problems with this as a long-term solution.  As well as not getting rid of dirt, sourcing and burning a constant supply of fuel can be very difficult, expensive and bad for health and the environment.

Boiling also does not neutralise other contaminants, like toxic metals, which poison groundwater around the world.  It also does nothing to stop millions of women and children who have to walk miles for their water every day – leaving no time for other work, education or play.

Nobody should be forced to live this way. As a long-term solution, it is fairer, cheaper and more sustainable in every way to create a water supply that is close by and safe at its source.

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