BISR has a strong history of support for those less fortunate than ourselves. Each year, a number of charities and organisations have been supported financially as well as through practical assistance. Examples include the annual Cancer Awareness Week and the regular visits to orphanages in Nepal as part of the school’s strong Duke of Edinburgh award programme.
Foundations of the partnership
We first became involved in supporting schools for refugees in the Lebanon about two years ago. It followed a chance meeting with Salwa Jabri from the Social Support Society at a British embassy event. Following this, students met to consider whether it was a programme that we could support, and the initiative received immediate and strong support across the student body across all age groups. The school already had a thriving Make a Difference (M.A.D.) club, which coordinated charity appeals and a student driven sub-committee of this club was formed to focus on the Lebanon school’s initiative.
In the early days, the aims were far-reaching and with hindsight, perhaps over ambitions. We set up six committees to promote: student fund-raising, community fundraising, social media, resource collection and distribution, student liaison and teacher liaison, and organised for four students – the chairs and co-chairs of the charity committees in senior and primary – along with four teachers to visit Sawiri school and the nearby refugee camps. When they returned, they were full of stories and led two wonderful assemblies in senior and primary to explain the scale of the problem and the school’s aims. Based on the recommendation of this group, the aims were refined and narrowed – we would support one school, and do all we could to make a difference to this one institution.
We felt that a partnership with Sawiri school was appropriate because:
- Of all the five schools supported by the Social Support Society, this one was an all-through 3-18 school and was therefore similar to ourselves in terms of age groups on roll.
- Many of our own community could relate to the huge humanitarian challenges being experienced in the Lebanon because they had family members caught up in the Syrian conflict
- We would be able to identify exactly where our funds were going.