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International Partnerships

St. Matthew’s is proud to have developed our links to the global community through our partnership with a Primary School in Uganda – Kamwezi Primary School. The program kicked off in March 2017 with children from Nursery to Year 6 writing letters to say hello to their new penpals in Uganda. The children were very excited to share stories about our school and community, and even more excited when we received our long awaited replies!

We expanded our Sports Days that year to include a Walk for Water. Children were encouraged to walk carrying bottles of water to represent the walk many children their age are forced to take each day in order to access clean water. This was combined with a Pots for Change fundraiser. Over the course of two weeks, families brought in any spare change they had around the house. Kamwezi Primary School was able to use the funds raised to purchase their own laptop. This made communicating with our school much easier!

In December of 2018 we wanted to share the holiday spirit with our friends in Uganda. Every child in the school created a Christmas or Holiday card to send to their penpal at Kamwezi Primary School. The children also wrote messages about how we celebrate holiday traditions and what happens at British Christmastime. In return, we received cards that taught us about different Ugandan Christmastime traditions. We learned that no matter what country you are in, family is the most important part of Christmas!

Through our partnership with Kamwezi Primary School, we decided to hold a We Are Silent Day throughout the entire school. A campaign to raise awareness was created throughout the school and community to raise awareness about children's rights around the world. The topic was introduced to the children during one of their daily Worships, which was led by the We Act club. The We Act club children created skits to dramatise children's rights issues, such as access to education, child marriage, child labour and children living as refugees. They used their skits to compare life in the UK to the lives those children might be living. The children were asked to leave worship and reflect on why this is an important issue and how it relates to our lives in the UK. They were encouraged to explore the activity at home and discuss it with their parents.

Children collected sponsorships throughout the month and on 20 April 2018 every year group in the school remained silent for a designated period of time. Some children even chose to remain silent throughout the entire day. The day began in Church, and the school Reverend Richard led the children in reflection to think about the meaning behind the day and why we were raising awareness for this issue. The children then completed cross-curricular activities throughout the day related to child rights and silence. These included creating badges and poster to explain why we were silent, researching children's rights figures, a literacy lesson about life in other countries and several activities where they examined how difficult it was to finish tasks/work as a team in silence. The project was hugely successful and our school community came together to raise an incredible £1050.25. The money was shared between the We Act program and Kamwezi Primary School. They were extremely grateful and the money was used to help fund repairs to their school buildings.

To finish off the 2018 school year the children in each class created a drawing of what they saw out of their classroom window (or just beyond). They were encouraged to think about what aspects of our community were important to them and essential to living our lives (i.e. the high street, what shops are there, traffic lights, etc.). We wrote a brief description and took class photos of the children looking out their class window together. These were then mailed to our friends in Kamwezi and we received the same letters in return. We examined the letters in classes and discussed the similarities and differences in our communities. Children were encouraged to reflect on how their daily schedules might be different, what these differences mean to pupils, to their families, etc.

We recently shared our link to Kamwezi Primary School with Cowley St. Laurence, and they are excited to learn more about their own international penpals. The children at St. Matthews are very grateful for the connection we shared with Kamwezi and everything we learned from them. We look forward to developing new connections to the global community in the near future.