School offers hand of friendship to youngsters in remote village

Pupils at  Eldon primary School are extending the hand of friendship to pupisl at a remote school in the foothills of Pakistan. Photo Neil cross

Pupils at Eldon primary School are extending the hand of friendship to pupisl at a remote school in the foothills of Pakistan. Photo Neil cross

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An inner city school has forged an unusual “twinning” link with counterparts in a remote part of the world.

Caring youngsters at Eldon School in Plungington, Preston, are making new friends with pupils at a school in the foothills of the Khyber Pass between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The school is in what is considered to be a dangerous, Taliban-ridden area and has few amenities.

Azra Butt, headteacher at the Preston school said pupils were setting up pen pals links and were also raising funds for the Pakistani school.

She said; “The school is in a very remote area but there is a charity which has built two schools and we are twinning with one of them.

“I am Pakistani by origin, born and bred here but my family originates from Pakistan so I have some knowledge of the area.

“The school is in the Khyber Pass region and that area can be dangerous.”

She said the school was predominantly for girls - for whom education was not considered necessary, or widely approved of, by the Taliban.

Azra added: “There is no internet access and electricity is very random. The power can go out for hours on end.

At the moment we are looking a some fund raising for the school.”
A delegation from the charity has visited Eldon Primary to talk about the work.

Mrs Butt said teachers from the two schools were supposed to join the trip but had problems obtaining visas.

However, it is hoped that other schools in Lancashire will follow suit and set up similar friendships.

The Preston headteacher added: “They want the teachers to twin as well as pupils so we can share practices.”

She said families at Eldon were very supportive and have helped it achieve a host of awards in the past few years.

During the recent Christmas break pupils gave up part of their holiday to help hand out food parcels and gifts to the less fortunate at the Foxton Youth Centre.