SHOCC aims to raise awareness of, and raise funds for, projects that challenge deprivation and poverty in the UK and abroad.
It is the St Mary’s organisation that brings together all the University College’s charitable work with local and global communities. It is a way for students and staff and members of the University College’s community to work together to make a difference.
In October 2012, SHOCC's Elizabeth Byrne-Hill visited the charity's various Kilimanjaro projects – two schools in Tanzania and a weaving project, which gives women in a Nairobi slum the skills and ability to earn a living. The latter started with two looms in a garage and eight students. It now has twenty new students every four months. Their work is not only beautiful – they are now learning to market it locally.
The two schools are a triumph. Both were founded and are run by women who Elizabeth Byrne-Hill taught when she worked in Africa in the 1960s. Neither has any state aid and it is a struggle to launch and maintain independent schools. While people are crying out for education for their children, only a few can pay the very modest fees. Maasai mothers beg for their fully grown sons to be taken in but have little more than the sale of beads for payment.
2012 saw one very generous trust support Mama Mcha in building a hall where she longs to see her pupils sit on chairs to eat their meals or to meet as a whole school, sheltered from the fierce sun or the much-needed but torrential rain. The other school, Marie Eugenie Girls’ Secondary, has set itself to achieve demanding standards and in 2014 will open a sixth form, hoping to emulate the original Assumpta school which lapsed when the nuns had to leave.