Bellshill-based charity expands school feeding programme in The Gambia

Father Dominic Towey and wee Alieu with the plaque that will be put up at St John's School for the Deaf along with one for all of the other parishes which have provided support
Father Dominic Towey and wee Alieu with the plaque that will be put up at St John's School for the Deaf along with one for all of the other parishes which have provided support

Project Gambia People Feeding People volunteers have returned home from Africa after an eventful two weeks.

The Bellshill-based charity was taking Muhammed Cham (better known as wee Alieu) home after he was brought to Scotland earlier this year for life-changing surgery.

Alieu, who was born without ears, had a specialist implant fitted at University Hospital Monklands by surgeon Mr Arunachalam Perumkulam Iyer.

Before he left Alieu was invited to St John the Baptist Parish in Uddingston by parish priest Father Dominic Towey, as the church is where the charity started with the name link to St John’s School for the Deaf.

Parishoners were given an update on the work going on in Africa which includes an expansion of the feeding programme to include St Patrick’s Lower Basic School and St Joseph’s Nursery School at the Gambia-Senegal border, while still supporting St John’s School for the Deaf.

Project Gambia’s Aidan Curivan said: “School feeding programmes are game-changers in so many different ways, children want to go to school, parents want to send their children to school, attendances increase, behaviour improves, as does concentration and focus.

“A huge effort to get the school feeding programme in St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s kicked off as it had to be started from ‘scratch’, pots, pans, eating utensils, and everything else needed to run a kitchen and cooking area for over 750 pupils.”

A bucket collection after the masses at St John the Baptist raised £7565, and during March a total of £25,000 was raised by churches and school in the dioceses of Motherwell, Paisley and Glasgow.

Dr Iyer joined the trip to The Gambia and helped carry out health assessments of all the children at St John’s to see if any have similar problems to Alieu.

Aidan said: “The most important finding was there was no malnutrition among the pupils. What a powerful testimony to the efficacy of school feeding programmes in developing countries.”