AN URGENT request has come
from Gill Newman, wife of the Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Revd Adrian
Newman, for more support for her "Post a Pencil" project. She
recently wrote in these pages about her visit to one of the refugee
camps in Syria (Real Life, 18 January), where she
found people living in a wasteland of mud, "many children with bare
feet, almost purple with cold".
There was a makeshift school
built of breeze blocks and covered in tarpaulin (above)
trying to provide education for some 5000 children in shifts of 100
at a time - but there was no equipment, not even pencils and paper.
The teacher's ambition was that each child should have his or her
own bag with paper, pencils, and pens.
Mrs Newman hoped that the
schools in east London, in the Stepney area, might
help with providing these basics. Most of the children in Syria
were, after all, well into their education, with good prospects in
front of them, until their normal lives were turned upside down.
Now she is hoping that more churches and church schools will join
Before she went to Syria,
she had already raised £9000 for a small charity, Hand in Hand for
Syria, and she took £2000 with her, some of which went to the
children, some to buy children's clothes and boots, and the rest of
the money to Hand in Hand for its winter appeal. Now she hopes for
enough money to buy 1000 school bags, to fill with plain and lined
paper, and a pencil case with pencils, ball-point pens, coloured
pencils, and a sharpener. She estimates that each bag will cost
about £5, and she is hoping church schools will help.
"Just buy a new pencil, or small packet of crayons, pop them
into an envelope with two second-class stamps (the thickness of a
pencil means that it has to be posted as a 'large letter', which
costs 90p), and then send it to me." Her address is 63 Coborn Road,
London E3 2DB.