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Louise Barea: Building a ‘Mini Gibraltar’ in Africa

Chris Gomez

Louise Barea

Gibraltarian GHA nurse and highly driven philanthropist Louise Barea, together with a small army of volunteers, has set up a school in a small fisherman’s village called Kewunor in Ghana, which has been described as a ‘Mini Gibraltar’ – complete with a Gibraltarian flag flying at full mast and a local football team that sports the Gibraltar home and away kits.

Maranatha School, Ghana

It all started in 2013 when Louise took on the opportunity of helping in the construction of a school in Africa; little did she known that she would go on to raise funds and manage the construction of what is now one of the most popular schools in Ghana; Maranatha School.

“I jumped at the opportunity, that year we built two classrooms which were really successful; the student population went from nearly nothing to about 100 students.”

In 2014 Louise went back to Ghana to help construct 4 more classrooms, by 2018 the student population had risen to 370; “there were more than 50 kids to one classroom and one desk per every 5 kids! They were also lacking in supplies, some teachers weren’t coming in to school due to lack of resources…” she explained.

Maranatha School, Ghana

In order to facilitate the growing number of students at the school and solve the lack of resources, Louise decided to start tackling issues one by one.

“They needed more text books, so I got a list of the ones that they needed. I could have bought around 500 with my own savings, but I thought I’d reach out to the community in Gibraltar to help. I started a Go Fund Me campaign with the aim of raising £1,000. In two weeks we raised £3,700”, 98% of these donations were from the Gibraltarian community.

Now in 2019 Kewunor village has 12 classrooms, with Louise looking to complete the construction of a library this summer – and it seems that word of Maranatha school has gotten out in Ghana, with students travelling from its capital (Accra) to enrol;

“I was mind blown, the school restarted after the Christmas period and my project manager sent me a photo of 3 children who had just moved over all the way from Accra, which is about 4 hours away.”

Managing a project of this scale is time consuming, Louise works from 8 until 5 and then gets back home to manage her hugely successful project remotely – she tells us that this normally occupies her time into the early hours of the morning.

The syllabus is based on the UK education system –GCSE’s and A levels – but with a higher focus on things like agriculture, where, for example, the children learn how to fertilize soil. “They thought it was absolutely crazy that we in the West don’t learn about these things at school.”

Maranatha School, Ghana

“I work full time at the GHA as a staff nurse. Sometimes I work until 2-4 in the morning, organising fundraising events, managing our social media, coordinating with the school, press releases, promotions, helping volunteers and now in managing the construction of the library.”

When we asked her how she was managing all of this she said, “I don’t stress, I don’t have time for it”.

The impact that her efforts have had on the ‘Mini Gibraltar’ village of Kewunor has been massive, “The children had nothing to cater for their educational needs before, they used to fish, sell fish and play football… They still sell fish to make a living, but they now have a school where they can learn and build a future.”

Maranatha School, Ghana

Louise counts on the generosity of people to help her to continue to make an impact on this impoverished village in Ghana.

As Louise sets her sights on building a new library for the school, you can help her cause by donating any amount of money to her Go Fund Me campaign, which at the time of writing this article, has raised £11,975 of its £21,000 goal.

UPDATE! Louise and Help Me Learn Africa raised £31,000 and the library has been finished – Read all about it here: Louise Barea Completes Library in Ghana’s ‘Mini Gibraltar’

You can donate via her website: www.helpmelearnafrica.com

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