Strawberry Hill Overseas Community Concern is the St Mary’s organisation that brings together all the University’s charitable work with local and global communities. It is a way for students and staff and members of the University’s community to work together to make a difference.
Take a look at the SHOCC leaflet for more information about our overseas projects.
Official Opening of the Great Hall at Orkolili Secondary School
A very special occasion for students and staff and a moment of pride for SHOCC. On 25th September the pupils and staff of Orkolili Secondary School gathered to witness the formal opening of the new school hall.
Orkolili is a dry and dusty place for most of the year and ten years ago there was little to see but scruffy thorn bushes. Students ate their lunch perched on desks or leaning against the classroom walls. Now saplings planted in the first year of the new school are handsome trees and the classrooms are surrounded by flowering bushes.
September is very hot and this year clouds gathered, days passed but there was no rain. Then on the morning of September 25th a light shower brought fresh air and hope. The students were in festive mood. They sang, they danced they made speeches and a small group of tumblers gave a magnificent display of stunning acrobatics. Then the tape was cut, the new hall declared open and it was time for lunch. Mama Mcha’s dream had come true. The whole school sat down together, to eat, to chat.
SHOCC has supported Mama Mcha and her inspirational project from its earliest days. The school now boasts classrooms, dormitories, two science labs, a domestic science room and a computer room complete with 15 computers. The results in the national exams give testimony to the dedication of the staff and the hard work of the students.
The hall still needs windows, doors, screed on the floor, some paint. Do you know that for every £1 SHOCC can raise to complete the project, the already wonderfully generous Brian Murtagh Trust has promised to match funds up to £10,000.
The Catholic Women’s League in Weybridge read this news and sent £500 – that’s now £1000!
Thank you, thank you SHOCC and all of SHOCC’s supporters.
SHOCC visits projects
In October 2012, SHOCC's Elizabeth Byrne-Hill visited the charity's various Kilimanjaro projects - two schools in Tanzania and a weaving project, which gives women in a Nairobi slum the skills and ability to earn a living. The latter started with two looms in a garage and eight students. It now has twenty new students every four months. Their work is not only beautiful - they are now learning to market it locally.
The two schools are a triumph. Both were founded and are run by women who Elizabeth Byrne-Hill taught when she worked in Africa in the 1960s. Neither has any state aid and it is a struggle to launch and maintain independent schools. While people are crying out for education for their children, only a few can pay the very modest fees. Maasai mothers beg for their fully grown sons to be taken in but have little more than the sale of beads for payment.
2012 saw one very generous trust support Mama Mcha in building a hall where she longs to see her pupils sit on chairs to eat their meals or to meet as a whole school, sheltered from the fierce sun or the much-needed but torrential rain. The other school, Marie Eugenie Girls’ Secondary, has set itself to achieve demanding standards and in 2014 will open a sixth form, hoping to emulate the original Assumpta school which lapsed when the nuns had to leave.