Back in December 2010, Gambia Experience clients, Eleanor and her husband visited a local nursery school in Brufut and being shocked by the primitive conditions they decided to help.
Eleanor explained “I realised that the couple of bags of coloured pens and pencils I had brought with me would not go far amongst 120 children, especially as they had no proper desks to work at nor paper to work on.
I asked the headmaster (Lamin) what would be his priority if he could have something done to help his school. He said the floor of the classrooms needed concreting as the dust was getting into the children’s lungs and causing them to cough. We found that it would cost £80 to concrete all three classrooms; some phone calls were made and the workmen started the next day! PROJECT GAMBIA had begun!”
Since their initial visit, Eleanor and her husband have raised the funds to:
- paint the walls of the classrooms
- renovate the toilets
- build new benches and tables for all 120 pupils
- build desks and chairs for the staff
Eleanor and her family and many of the pupils at Burgoyne Middle School where she teaches have kindly donated much needed teaching equipment including:
- Over 1000 pencil crayons
- Felt tip pens
- An Oxford Reading Scheme
- Pop-up books
- 42 laminated posters of the alphabet, times table, time etc….
- Basic Maths and English teaching books
- A large variety of children’s fact and fiction books
- 6 footballs
- Basic atlases
- 2 space hoppers
- A type writer
“Over the Easter holidays in April 2011 we returned to The Gambia and were delighted to see the progress the school was making. The Headmaster and the friends we had started to make were absolutely delighted with our efforts. We were invited to a local ‘naming ceremony’ which is the equivalent of a Christening to us. In the morning a poor old goat gets slaughtered and the whole village celebrate the birth of the child by eating, drinking, singing and dancing-not so different to our own culture in many ways. We were overwhelmed by the hospitality of the Gambian people and found them to have a very similar sense of humour to us Brits!”
Whilst they were there they also completed the following projects:
- Rendering and painting the perimeter wall of the compound.
- Painting the school gate and flag pole. (The Gambian people want a Union Jack flag to put up next to their Gambian flag)
- Supplying play equipment in the form of 3 sets of swings.
Eleanor has talked to many of the pupils in her school about The Gambia and the school in Brufut. “All pupils showed a real interest in the subject and I believe there are great learning opportunities for Burgoyne. Many pupils in Year 7 have written letters to pupils at the nursery school. We spent time considering the nature of our audience, what sort of information to include and what questions would be polite to ask. I found that even pupils who usually do not like writing, responded well to this task. I would like to thank all supporters of ‘PROJECT GAMBIA’, especially the Year 7 and 8 pupils of Burgoyne Middle School, for their continued support and generous donations of books and other learning materials. Many parents have been extremely generous in their donations and I wish to thank them and assure them that all materials have been very gratefully received.”
Project Gambia have also just launched a website for the school which they are still developing but please do visit it if you would like to find out more about the project. I must add that I think they have achieved an amazing amount in less than a year. Congratulations to Eleanor and all Project Gambia supporters!