Restore Another Child's Hope was launched in May 1995 after a survey was carried out in the public schools by the priest of St Barnabas Church. It was found that many children were falling out of the educational system because of their poverty. The parish was informed of the situation and actions were taken straight away to deal with the situation. To start with, a Feeding Scheme was proposed on a trial basis to three schools and 17 children were selected to receive a lunch at school daily. The Parish's Relief Fund had only R 13,000 (US$ 520) and it was a step by faith.
Today, under the Feeding Scheme, ReACH is providing lunch and milk daily to about 400 pupils and students in 15 educational institutions. Milk and lunch are prepared at school and distributed by school's staff. Through the participation of parents and teachers ReACH has become a community project for the welfare and development of deprived children.
The Bishop of Mauritius gave ReACH his blessing from the very first day that the project was discussed with him. "The Lord will bless this project" he said. Indeed, the Parish of St Barnabas can testify that not only has ReACH been blessed, but that the parish also is blessed through the project.
As the project became widely accepted in the school community, ReACH extended its aid to help poor children in other aspects as well. It was clear that most deprived children needed more that just a lunch at school. ReACH developped other schemes to cater for children and families in their various needs.
The four other schemes of ReACH are: The Child Sponsorship Scheme which coordinates the sponsorship of specific children by individuals or organisations. The Home Relief Scheme brings relief in the children's home. Under this scheme, ReACH has provided basic furniture like beds, chairs, tables, building material or clothes. A Book Loan Scheme was created to assist secondary school students with study materials. Many students cannot afford to buy text books. ReACH buys new or collects second-hand books and loan these resources to students on yearly basis. Another vital assistance to students is provided through the Transport Allowance Scheme. ReACH pays the travelling cost for over fifty student to go to college. Because of their poverty, they had to walk several kilometres to attend school every day.
Over the years, ReACH has had a very positive impact on the schools and the community. The level of absenteeism was high in the school's records, up to 25%. ReACH has a brought it down to 2% in certain schools through its different schemes. The general performance of the children concerned has improved considerably and most are now able to pursue their education in the secondary schools. It is hoped that these poverty-stricken children will be able to prosper out of their poverty and emerge as responsible citizens to the benefit of their country.
St Barnabas Church was the first to establish formal secondary education in Rodrigues with the opening of St Barnabas College in 1956. In 1973, St Barnabas College was amalgamated with a Roman Catholic College to create the Rodrigues College, now the most prestigious of the four colleges on the island. Through ReACH, St Barnabas Church is now equiping and restoring the hope of many primary school pupils who would not have had the chance to make it for their advanced education.
The st Barnabas Church Community feels called to pursue this ministry of compassion and caring in line with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ who calls us to visit, feed, cloth and nurture Him through "the least of these my brethren". ReACH is a ministry of restoring hope and human dignity. We are pleased to share it with you as a testimony of God's love for his people. Thank you for your prayer support.
ReACH depends on the goodwill and generosity of others to keep the project going. If you are interested in helping us to restore another child's hope and would like to make a donation towards the project, please send your intention or contribution to Rev Bryen Adeline, Project Coordinator, on the above addresse.
ReACH is managed by the ReACH Committee which is chaired by the Parish Priest. This committee is accountable to the Parish Church Council(PCC). ReACH employs a Project Facilitator in permanence to assist with the administration of the project. The Bishop of Mauritius is the Patron of ReACH.
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