SUNDERLAND’S only tribal chief is continuing her commitment to educate and shelter some of the most deprived girls in northern Ghana.
Lynne Symonds received the accolade of becoming a tribal chief of the three-quarters-of-a-million-strong Gonja tribe, in honour of all the work she has done in the area.
Lynne’s charity, the Wulugu Project, works to reduce poverty through education and has built and equipped nine primary schools, provided education in more than 100 villages and helped more than 200,000 children out of the cycle of poverty.
The newest project from Wulugu is a vocational school in Karaga, which now has funding to build a hostel for girls, providing accommodation to those who have to travel long distances to attend school.
Lynne, who is from High Barnes, said: “We were lucky to get a lot of land from the tribal chief, so we were able to build the hostel. If the children who travel long distances can live at the hostel, it helps with their studies.”
The funding was kicked off by a donation from Sunderland Rotary Club, which has also been offering expertise to the people building the hostel.
Ex-headteacher Lynne said: “A member of Sunderland Rotary has been extremely helpful by advising our builders.
“The frequent high winds cause real problems with roofs being blown off. If this happens, walls can be destroyed at the same time.
“If we don’t replace roofs quickly, the children often never return to school as families get used to having them help with the subsistence farming or care of younger siblings.”
Lynne added: “Gordon Bennett from the club has suggested improvements that will make the damage much less likely – workable, small-scale measures that are within the reach and capability of our local builders. We are more than grateful for that.”
The Wulugu project was founded in 1993 when Lynne met the headmaster of a school in Wulugu, Karimu Nachina, at a teaching conference in Japan who told her about the problems in their school.
Lynne was inspired to start raising money for the school and the project was born.
Sunderland Rotary Club has helped out with other donations, including help for a hostel in Sawala.
Lynne said: “Steve Cram’s charity, Coco, visited the hostel in Sawala again recently and were very impressed by the real difference we are making.”