Feb 10 2010 by Judith Tonner, Airdrie & Coatbridge
GENEROUS youngsters from six Coatbridge schools produced a magnificent team effort by sending vital donations to schools in Ecuador.
Senior pupils from Gartsherrie, Langloan, St Augustine’s, St Bartholomew’s, St Patrick’s and St Timothy’s primaries spent weeks collecting money, classroom supplies, teaching aids and football strips.
The project was organised by Joe Bradley, who works with the Coatbridge children in his capacity as local Gaelic football development officer.
He recently had the opportunity to visit the Ecuadorian shanty town of Nueva Prosperina, and after seeing the deprivation there, decided to use his sporting contacts back home to help the children he had met.
With around 800 Monklands youngsters from a wide range of schools learning and playing the sport each year, Joe had plenty of willing helpers as Primary Six and Seven classes across the town leapt into action.
Their donations were distributed by Father Martin Chambers of the Society of St James, who has helped transform the Ecuadorian town with a school, church and planned health centre with money donated from Scotland.
Youngsters in Nueva Prosperina were thrilled to receive their school materials and sports strips thanks to the generosity of the Coatbridge pupils.
Joe said: “Around 500 children now attend the local school every day, whereas five years ago they walked the streets.
“Now, almost 300 of them receive a meal every day from the school’s soup kitchen, and in an area where there is no running water, few jobs and rampant poverty, this has been a wonderful gift.
“Through playing Gaelic football and then becoming involved in this project, many Coatbridge youngsters have increased their awareness that most people in the world do not possess a television, computer, iPod or even a change of clothes, and that there are people who often starve on a daily basis.
“Our local youngsters have reached out and offered a hand of charity, and it has been welcomed with open arms in Ecuador.”