We are now half-way through the visit of fifteen teachers and pupils from Sierra Leone. Our two major events – a concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on Thursday, and two Conferences (pupils and teachers) on Friday – are now almost upon us and I will blog afterwards with some reflections.
What has been notable so far, and something I hadn’t quite anticipated, is the ability of people to rise to the occasion and show pure qualities of kindness, generosity and leadership. Sadly, it has also highlighted the opposite, the worst of people, but as this is a blog which seeks to focus on the positive, I will comment exclusively on the former.
So here is a little roll-call. I know that their example has provided an inspiration to me; I am sure this is replicated across the piste.
The Head of Residential Care at the school where our visitors are based. Nothing is too much trouble, even when she was faced by weighty issues this week. She’s incredible.
The CEO of Communication Plus O2, who has sponsored much of the travel costs, but still is generous enough to donate a specially adapted mobile phone to each of them.
A gentleman who met the group at a cinema yesterday and paid for all their tickets, mountains of popcorn and fizzy drinks.
Local surgeons who gave us £500 to allow the group to visit the Chill Factor with their new friends from school, in addition to organising a visit from the ice-cream man today.
My local junior football team who turned up loyally in the middle of a Sunday afternoon to organise a match against the visitors, and donated huge amounts of kit.
Parents of pupils at school who have expressed their thanks that their child has been a special ‘buddy’. They didn’t need to do this, but they took the time to do so.
The conductor of the massed children’s choir, Ali, who has helped organise multiple activities including a visit to the police horses on Friday. Not satisfied with such generosity, she then had the entire group over to her house for a meal, cooked various cakes and held an impromptu gig in the kitchen.
A pizza restaurant, Tribeca, who did not just cook a free pizza for everyone, but taught the children how to cook their own.
A local charity, the vibrant An Hour for Others, who have donated clothes, shoes, but more importantly their time and love.
Dozens of school staff who have given up part of their weekend to support and organise events.
In all these examples, people have deliberately committed themselves to something from which they have nothing to gain, save a good deal of happiness. It is a one-way transaction. It is a fabulous example of altruism, a concept I’ve always loved.
The consequence is not simply a memorable time for staff and pupils from one of the poorest countries in the world. No, the rich reward of such generosity of spirit is found in the example that is set to those around them in their own communities. Their example inspires others.
The etymology of the word ‘inspire’ has its roots in the Latin for ‘breathing in’. Well, if we can all breathe in all the goodness from these people (and many others I’ve doubtless forgotten here), then that’s how we make our school, our community and our world a better place.
Inspirational people. Simple really.