Students Support Manuel Duato School

11th July 2013 - by Stephen Awre

Sixth-form students from Essex have raised an amazing £20,000 for the Manuel Duato School for children with learning disabilities in Lima, Peru.  Columbans have long supported this school and Fr. Ed O’Connell is getting ready to welcome a group of the students visiting in July.

The group of 20 students and 4 teachers from Colchester Sixth Form College was formed in September 2012, with an avowed aim  to raise funds for the Escuela Manuel Duato in Lima, Peru.  They are led by David Huggon, Head of Modern Languages at the College, and teacher Giovanni Gravina.  Here, David reports on their fundraising efforts and their forthcoming visit to Peru.

“The College has already been to the Manuel Duato School twice before, in 2006 and 2008, and we have been mightily impressed by the work done at the school for children with severe learning disabilities, from the poorer barrios (neighbourhoods) of Lima.

The money we are trying to raise will pay for the refurbishment of two of the classrooms for children in wheelchairs. In the last couple of years the Peruvian government has been asking the school to take in more children with severe physical difficulties and at the moment the school does not have the necessary facilities to cope with this expansion.

We will be arriving in Peru on 12th July. During the visit, we hope to do some work around the school, including some ceramic mosaics on the façade of one of the classrooms, planting trees and building vegetable beds for the children to grow some of the their own plants and vegetables. We also hope to visit the children in their homes and to have the chance to get out to the San Benito Centre where Father Ed O’Connell and other Columban missionaries have been doing excellent work with the local community.

Fundraising for the school has certainly kept us busy!  The two biggest fundraisers this year were the Auction of Promises, which raised around £5,000, and the skydive or “Peruchute” jump which 12 of the students (and my wife) took part in (not me!). We have also recently done a revamp of someone’s garden for £1,000 (half the price of the professionals). Remember the TV programme Ground Force?

On 5th July we had a Zumba Party at the College, our last fundraising event of the year, and we leave for Peru on the 12th.”

The Columban Mission Office in Solihull has been supporting the College to boost their fundraising efforts by claiming Gift Aid.  Stephen Awre, Mission Office Administrator, said:

“We have been hugely impressed by the energy and enthusiasm that the students have put into their fundraising for the Manuel Duato school, which they will take with them when they go out to visit and support the children and staff of the school. We ask all our Columban supporters to pray for the success of their trip and we look forward to hearing all about it when they return.”

Would you like to raise funds for Columban mission in your parish, school or community?
To register your interest please e-mail to: