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The Upper West branch of the Union of Industry, Commerce and Finance Workers (UNICOF) of the Trades Union Congress on Saturday, February 8, 2020, as part of its yearly support programme donated some items worth over GH₵2,000.00 to pupils of the St. Don Bosco Special School to support their upkeep.

According to the First Vice Chairman of UNIFOC – Upper West, Issaka Mohammed, the donation was necessitated by the Union’s desire to give back to society. He said besides the Union’s core mandate of seeing to the welfare of its members, “as a union we also thought that helping the needy is our corporate social responsibility.” Mr. Issaka said the donation was made out of their dues to augment government’s efforts in providing for special schools, and therefore thanked all members for their contributions.

The 1st Vice Chairman also implored management of the school to put the items to judicious use to the benefit of the vulnerable pupils. He further intimated that, “looking at their (St. Don Bosco Special School) challenges, we are more likely to select them again for next year”.

                          Mrs. Fatima Saaka (left) and Mr. Issaka Mohammed (right)

On her part, Regional Chairperson of the Women Committee of UNICOF, Mrs. Fatima Saaka, urged society not to despise and neglect children born with certain abnormalities. She said such children should not be seen as a curse to the extent they are allowed for only their mothers and the government to take care of. Madam Fatima called on other unions and individuals to contribute their quota towards improving the lives of such children by supporting the special schools. She challenged the general public to donate to the St. Don Bosco Special School to help the vulnerable children.

Headmaster of the school, Vitalis Niben-yel Tuolong, who received the items on behalf of management and the pupils with intellectual disabilities thanked UNICOF for the kind gesture and pledged to ensure that the items are used to the full benefit of the pupils. He said government is doing its best, but that the school still needs more support. He pleaded with UNICOF to still remember them in their subsequent donations, and called on other benevolent organisations and individuals to come to their aid with any assistance.

He also encouraged parents who have such children with intellectual disabilities to enroll them at the St. Don Bosco Special School and not keep them at home.

Mr. Niben-yel Tuolong however enumerated some challenges bedeviling the school. Key among them is the lack of accommodation for the staff and house mothers. He disclosed that “there is no accommodation in this school. No single teacher stays here. The senior housemaster just opted to stay at Loho. When I took over, I decided I would stay closer, [so] I rented a place just across the road.” He said with the nature of the children it is important that accommodation was provided for staff to stay with them on the campus.

Other challenges include inadequate staff, both teaching and non-teaching, lack of transport for the school, lack of kitchen and inadequate financing for vocational activities.

St. Don Bosco Special School is located at Loho, a community in the Nadowli District of the Upper West Region. Of the over hundred student population, sixty-nine pupils had reported for school as at the time of the donation.

The donated items to the school included maize, rice, cooking oil and assorted drinks and biscuits. The rest are detergents; liquid soap, washing powder, parazone and washing soap.