THE devastation caused by natural disasters in the Far East was brought home to students at a rural high school.
Shirley Lee, Chinese teacher at Bishop Heber High in Malpas, presented a thought-provoking and emotional assembly to students in aid of the China Earthquake and Burma Cyclone Appeal.
Her presentation covered the devastating effects of the earthquake of magnitude 7.9 which struck Wenchuan in Sichuan Province of China in May this year, with a death toll at present of 65,080 people, with 23,150 missing.
More than a third of a million people were injured and almost five-and-a-half million left homeless.
Shirley identified the area to students on a map and included moving images of the devastation caused by the earthquake. She illustrated the basic medical facilities available in tents and highlighted the impact the disaster has had on families.
The presentation continued with the cyclone which ripped across the Burmese coast, also in May.
Students were given information on the extreme conditions families are living in with limited water and power supplies out of use for many weeks.
Shirley referred to the high risk of communicable disease due to poor hygiene and the need for the provision of clean water and medical supplies as key priority if conditions are to improve.
To raise funds for these two disasters, Shirley and the language department at Bishop Heber organised a China-themed day, with Chinese food served in the dining hall at lunch and menus written in Chinese.
In addition, fortune cookies, cake and ice cream stalls were open during break and lunchtime and an eye-catching Chinese lion parade toured the school and encouraged students to contribute funds to the appeal.
The school says students were keen to support the fundraising and all donations will be forwarded to the British Red Cross for the appeal.
Headteacher David Curry was able to join the fundraising after returning from an educational visit to China the previous day.
Mr Curry was invited by the British Council to visit China along with eight other headteachers from Cheshire and Warrington to establish an international school partnership with a Chinese school for staff and students in China.
His itinerary included a two day visit to Beijing followed by five days in schools in Xi’an.
Activities included meetings with principals and local authority representatives, meeting students and teaching staff, teaching English lessons and observing English lessons and providing feedback.
The visit was productive with Bishop Heber establishing a link school with Bodi School Xi’an.
The junior, middle and senior school has 2,700 students and almost 200 teaching staff.
Almost all students and staff are boarders.
Mr Curry said the staff and children were welcoming and generous and he looks forward to future opportunities to work with the school and develop links through exchange visits and online activities.