Galway couple to use dance to raise vital funds for primary school in Ethiopia

Pictured with schoolchildren from the area are Patrick and Mary Clarke.

Pictured with schoolchildren from the area are Patrick and Mary Clarke.

A Galway couple are urging the general public to support their aim to raise €25,000 euro in vital funds for a primary school in Ethiopia, Africa.

Patrick and Mary Clarke are hosting a dancing fundraiser on Shop Street, beginning at 11am tomorrow Friday May 26 to raise funds for the Haro Jila primary school near Sebeta, Ethiopia. The school caters for over 350 pupils, some of whom have disabilities.

The money raised by the couple will be used to build and furnish an infant’s classroom, to purchase early childhood development materials and to further support adults and children with special needs in the area.

Currently, the Ethiopan School receives little state funding apart from teachers salaries - without extra funding, the school cannot make any progress. The retired couple, who previously worked as an engineer and school teacher, have fundraised and volunteered in Sebeta for the past seven years.

Speaking about the fundraising event, Patrick Clarke said, “We were shocked and appalled by the lack of basic facilities and by the poor standard of education in the primary schools in the Sebeta area of Ethiopia.

“These children, some with severe disabilities, will receive inclusive early childhood education thanks to the generous donations from members of the public in Ireland. We are going back to Ethiopia in October so before we go, we are determined to raise €25,000 to build, furnish and equip at least one classroom and start building another one in the school.”

Mary Clarke is a retired primary school teacher and as well as building facilities for the school, she also introduces local Ethiopian primary school teachers to inclusive early childhood teaching methods.

She said, “As a retired teacher, I understand how transformative education is, not only for the students themselves, but the whole community. There is a lack of quality education, particularly in early childhood, in Sebeta and this is something both Pat and I are determined to change. To anyone who is in Galway on Friday May 26, it would be great if you could come along to our fundraising event on Shop Street - the more the merrier!”

Students from Mary’s local Galway school, Scoláirí Scoil Iognáid, Patricia and Sean Casey’s Ballroom and Line Dancing Group, Tony Ryan’s Set Dancing group and traditional Irish musicians from O’Carroll’s pub, Galway, will all take part in the charity event.

For further information on the work Patrick and Mary hope to do in Ethiopia, visit


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