Schools building schools

Schools building schools


Ruth Moriarty and Sinéad Keeley

Although we didn’t travel to Africa until fifth year, our journey with the Schools and Health Foundation (SHF) began when we were much younger. We saw older girls come back from Africa who had helped to build schools in Sierra Leone.

Inspired by the change we could make, we worked hard through Transition Year to be chosen to travel to Malawi and Cameroon respectively. Being a part of SHF means that all the hard work and effort put into raising money goes directly to the projects it funds – SHF is run by volunteers and there is no ‘middle man’, meaning that every euro raised in a collection, table quiz or mini marathon makes a direct difference to so many lives in the poorest parts of the world.

This integrity is what sets SHF apart and why it so appealing to us as students and volunteers.


In both Malawi and Cameroon, we saw first-hand the impact of poverty. We saw a toddler who had burnt her bare feet in a fire and was given no painkillers to ease her pain, because the hospital didn’t have any to give her. We saw overcrowded and underfunded psychiatric hospitals with young teenagers in wards amongst adults.

We saw a young child who was near death because of renal failure because the hospital couldn’t put her on dialysis. Most of all, we saw that without schools and a means of education, the children of these villages could not grow up and make a better life for themselves.

Despite the huge difference we had made in Koano and Chinambo, there are countless other villages across Malawi, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and Liberia which need schools and hospitals for their people too. Schools and Health Foundation are working tirelessly towards their goal of building schools for villages in these countries, to change hundred of children’s – and their children’s – lives forever. We are appealing to you to get involved. Any contribution helps, be that in money or fundraising events.

With more support in Ireland, SHF will be able to reach more people in several African countries and make a real difference. Working with SHF means being part of a community and helping others in a fun and rewarding way. It is truly life changing.

Ruth Moriarty and Sinéad Keeley are students in Scoil Mhuire Cork.

Ruth’s story…

“In 2015, I travelled to Malawi with three of my classmates. We had fundraised to build an after-school shelter for the children of the rural village Chinambo in Mzuzu.

“Although, we all felt a little nervous on our way there, this trepidation soon dissipated as we visited different places and met new people. We were greeted with song and dance everywhere we went and before long we were dancing and singing with the locals. I soon realised that the people of Malawi had as much to give to us and we had to give to them.

“Their carefree attitude despite their circumstance and their sense of community was something that I think everyone could learn something from, and I certainly did. Going to Malawi was an extremely eye-opening and rewarding experience.

“The children we met were bright, enthusiastic and unforgettable. It was truly amazing to see how our work here in Ireland would contribute to their education and lives.

“It is an indescribable feeling to think that each day in that rural village, those children with whom we laughed and danced are attending the after-school shelter where they are given food and a safe place to do their homework and to play.”

Sinead’s story…

“In 2016, we built a primary school in the village of Koano, Cameroon, high up in the hills in the west of the country, and I was lucky enough to be in the group who went to the opening of the school.

“The children sang and danced for us, we were given handmade Cameroonian dresses and the chief of the village even performed a traditional gun firing ceremony! In Batibo, we met a girl called Mata who had had an epileptic seizure and fallen into an open fire. I was shocked by the contrast of our lives – she seemed worlds apart from us even though she was only months older.

“Hearing her story made me see all the privilege we have and all the change we can make.

“We gave each student in the school a package with a copybook, stationery and times tables. Their excitement and joy were so clear and the difference every hour spent collecting had made was clear. All our hard work, from organising school sleepovers to swimming on Christmas Day had paid off.

“I will never forget the afternoon we spent at the opening of the school and I can safely say that my trip to Cameroon was one of the most formative experiences of my time in secondary school and of my life so far.”