WHILE most teachers tried to catch up on some rest over the summer holidays, one from Southsea travelled to Africa to help build a house for a colleague in need.
Guy Walker, who teaches French at St John’s College, took his wife and children Freddie, 15, and stepson Sam, eight, to Rwanda and spent three weeks building a house for maths tutor Jean Bosco.
The house for Mr Bosco and his wife Angélique on the site of the Christ-Roi college was the headteacher’s idea, who was keen to create a strong incentive to keep hold of his excellent new recruit.
Mr Walker and his family were among a group of 12 volunteers who helped raise £20,000 to fund the project and they all spent the majority of August transporting materials across the site and acting as helpers for the bricklayers.
At the end of a full day’s work, the team would retire to their living quarters – a one-storey school block consisting of rooms off a single central corridor.
The electric supply was often interrupted, and there was no running water. All drinking water had to be boiled in kettles the team took with them.
Mr Walker said: ‘We all worked hard to try and make sure the house was as complete as possible.
‘The school’s term began the day after we left and we think that Jean would only have had to wait a further week before he and his wife could move in.’
Reflecting on his living conditions, he added: ‘We slept under mosquito nets, although malarial infection is rare in this area and at this altitude.
‘Cooking for 12 people was challenging – all food was cooked on two small charcoal stoves!’
The project was carried out under the umbrella of Lasallian Developing Worlds Project, a charity linked to the founder of St John’s College, Saint John Baptiste De La Salle.
Mr Walker added: ‘In spite of the genocide that took place here 17 years ago, this country is relentlessly forward-looking and set on rebuilding its consciousness and its economy.
‘You do see memorials and the slogan “never again” but the overwhelming sense is of being positive and purposeful.’