Africa Christian Teaching Service (ACTS)
Herridge Technical School
Herridge's Humble Beginnings
Burundi is a very small country on the northern shores of Lake Tanganyika in Central East Africa and among the poorest in the world.
Whilst visiting her birth place, in the North East of Burundi, Georgette Butera came across eighty helpless orphans being cared for by a former business woman who had lost most of her possessions herself but not her big heart. Grateful to have the means to help, Georgette was able to donate money to buy enough food to last six months. Later on that day, in the town of Karusi, she came across an even greater situation of desperation. It was a camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP), no longer supported by UNHCR. Overwhelmed by the whole encounter of lost children without parental care and without education, the images haunted Georgette's sleep throughout the night. She woke up with a vision of a "School and Church" to be a refuge but also a light, a place where children could get counselling and help and secondary education.
"The experience was so engaging and all consuming, we rallied friends and family to make the vision a reality," she recalls. Enough capital was raised to build a school. It was named Herridge in honour of Audrey Herridge, a lady with inspiring generosity who helped so many Rwandan and Burundian orphans find their feet again.
ACTS established the Herridge Technical School in Burundi for orphans and destitute children which opened in 2007.
Most of the pupils come from the IDP camp and have absolutely nothing and the cooked meal provided at lunch breaks is the only meal most of the children get.
The school is fully funded from individual gifts and occasional grants. The money pays twenty one staff, buys books for each of the pupils, provides one cooked meal a day and buys two uniforms for each child. At first we offered general education whilst keeping in mind the establishment of technical sections once the charity had funds to do so.
A Catering and Hotel Management section was established in 2013. So far, the results achieved are outstanding. Graduates finish with high marks in the national tests. Although most graduates find work to support themselves, the aim is to give Herridge pupils even higher skills that will enable them to compete anywhere in the country and become breadwinners.
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