We have just returned from our annual trip to the Gambia, and wish to update you on the last years activity and our thoughts for the coming year.
Having supported this school since 2006 we have finally said goodbye to the teachers, children and school committee. We decided that we have done as much as we can for them and have passed the responsibility back to The Gambian Education Department. Our achievements, thanks to you, have been to build them a new three classroom school with a store an office for the teachers and 4 toilets 2 for boys and 2 for girls. We have also provided all the children with desks, tables, benches and chairs, a garden to grow their own fruit and vegetables, and a wall to surround the whole compound. We have paid for all three teachers to be professionally trained at college and they are now fully qualified nursery school teachers. They have a water supply and a building for arts and crafts supplied by another sponsor. On our visit this year we found they have just completed an extension to provide a fourth classroom. For those who have supported us, you can be proud that you have enabled about 300 children to have a better start to life than they otherwise would have had.
We went to the Lower Basic school at Makumbaya, which is where the children from Bafuloto have graduated to, and they are all doing very well.
In our last update, we were hoping to provide a bore hole for water and build a perimeter fence. We are pleased to say tat the bore hole has been completed and the perimeter wall is almost finished. Please see the photos. With the help of a couple in Norfolk, Rose and Brian Welham and their community, we have organized the building of a kitchen and toilets and provided trees, so that when they grow, the children will have shaded areas to sit under at playtime. This school has 4 classrooms for 215 children and we have provided all the desks, and benches, and courtesy of Cheddington Village school, tables and chairs.
For the coming year we have 2 more toilets to build and a garden to construct. We are getting quotes at the moment.
We are in the process of buying the land and the idea is to demolish the existing school before it falls down and build a new 4 classroom school for them. We have agreed a price for the purchase of the land and paid the deposit. We just need to raise the balance which is approximately £1300.
Once this has been done, we need to raise approximately £10-12,000 to demolish and rebuild the school This project we estimate is going to take us between three or four years to complete, unless someone wants to donate a large sum of money!
For those sponsors who are sponsoring children at Bafuloto, rest assured they will all still be able to attend the school until they graduate. We will be sending you new children to sponsor at Makumbaya if that’s OK.
Thank you to those sponsors who are now paying by direct debit or standing order, it has saved us a lot of time.
Also a big thank you to Cheddington Village School, Swanbourne Village School, Waddesdon Village School and Winstanley College, in Wigan for your continued support in providing funds, equipment and toys for the children.
The Gambian Schools Project is a registered Charity started by Janet & John Mason in April 2004.
It is dedicated to supporting Nursery Schools in the Gambia with resources, materials, and advice.
At the moment we are supporting 3 nursery schools- Bafuloto, Makumbaya and Nema Kunku and in the past have also helped Badala Nursery School in Serrakunda.
Our funds are raised by sponsorship of the children (it costs £36 per year to see a 4-8 year old through their nursery education.), Donations,and special events such as Charity dinners, Charity golf days, and sponsored marathons.
Update February 2014
Following our recent visit we have found there have been a lot of changes to the rules and regulations by the Department of Education which affects all our 3 schools. The main ones are that no nursery school will be allowed in someone’s compound. They have to have land of their own.
All teachers must be qualified or be training to be qualified. No class should have more than 30 children in it. The size of the land bust be able to sustain enough classrooms and play area for the number of children attending that school The school must be enclosed by a perimeter fence All schools must have their own water supply. All schools must have appropriate toilet facilities. However there is no money from the government to implement these changes!!
Bafuloto has had another sponsor who is paying for another classroom to be added to the main building, which will mean that it complies with the new regulations, as our two female teachers have now passed their exams and the new male teacher we are putting through college.
The new building for Makumbaya has been completed, together with the toilets, the teachers are being put through college and their wages being paid by an International Charity called Child Fund, so all we need to do their is supply water, and build a fence around the perimeter. We have quotes for the water supply and the fence and are in discussions with Child fund to help raise the money.
Nema school is a problem in as much as the land is very small and is not owned by the school. There are three classrooms with about 40 children in each, far too many. It has a perimeter fence, but the playground is too small. Again we are in discussions with Child Fund to do an assessment of the land to see whether it is big enough for the government specification and if so, to buy the land and build new classrooms.
As you can see, there is a lot to do, so we have decided to affiliate ourselves with Child Fund as they are on the ground in Gambia and have a lot more influence with the government than we do.
John Cavill's challenge to be IroncavFund Raising for us
Everyone gets many requests for sponsorship every year and I am no different in this request BUT please take 2 minutes to read this email to see the challenge I am doing to raise money for the Gambian Schools Project.
On 29th June I will be in Austria competing in the world renowned Ironman event. Last year I raised just over £1000 for the Gambian Schools Project by completing the Milton Keynes Marathon and, since then, the charity has been able to use the money to finish off vital building work and provide equipment to hundreds of children to help with their education for a better life. My Mum and Step Dad founded the charity in 2004 and every year they visit to see what their hard efforts have achieved and from nothing they have built schools, provided training, resources and hope for thousands of people who can’t afford an education.
The Ironman event is in Klagenfurt, Austria and is situated at one end of the beautiful Lake Wörthersee. I will start at 7am for a 2.4 mile swim in the crystal-clear lake, then bike for 112 miles through the scenic landscape of Carinthia from Klagenfurt to Villach to Lake Faaker See. The bike course, which has a "Tour de France" atmosphere contains two steep climbs during each loop, the "Rupertiberg" and the "Riebnig". Finally I will run 26.2 miles from the transition area to Krumpendorf going through the heart of Carinthia and Klagenfurt.
Training started 6 weeks ago and is going well but the commitment and work is only going to get harder and harder! In preparation for the event I am entering other events like the Silverstone Half Marathon, MK Half Marathon, Escape from the City 112 bike race, Code Breakers 100 mile bike race as well as going to Mallorca to compete in the Ironman 70.3 event on 10th May, which will be a challenge in itself. In this event the distances are half of the full Ironman event but with a 1.2 miles sea swim and 56 mile mountainous bike ride followed by a 13.1 mile run, so hopefully the preparation will stand me in good stead for the main event.
I hope you can support me in my challenge to raise over £1000 towards creating a water supply and building a perimeter wall for Makumbaya School. Like every mile I will cover, every donation will help in many ways. To donate, please go to my justgiving page:www.justgiving.com/ironcav.
We returned from Gambia on 1st March. The trip was a big success,with us spending quality time with all three schools, our first visit to Nema Kunku, and second visit to Makumbaya. Our first visit was to Bafuloto where Janet, Chrissie and Mary Heasman (Mary is one of Janet's violin students and Chrissie is her mother) did creative play and singing, while Lawrence (Janet's youngest son) and I played ball games outside. It was the same with all three schools and the children and teachers loved it. We arrived a week after 30 students and their teachers from Winstanley College were there, so the children had two weeks of games and fun. A big thank you to the students, Lisa, Jane and James from Winstanley and Chrissie, Mary and Lawrence, who went out with us. The second week of our stay, we were on our own and got down to the business of working out what the schools needed, and prioritized them.
Bafuloto needed some equipment which we went and bought for them, but their priority is now a bore hole. (we are waiting for a quote).There is a standpipe for water on the site but it is taken from the village bore hole and is not reliable. The garden we have provided is looking good, but is suffering due to the lack of water. The two female teachers Jankey & Fatou are in their last year of teacher training, and hopefully will pass this time. Jawo is still in his first year but is doing very well. Mr Fatty, the headmaster seems to be getting everything in order. We will continue to pay their wages, which is now the main financial outlay we have with them.
Makumbaya needed some equipment, but their main priority is the completion of their new building as the existing one is in danger of collapse, and we don't think it will last through the rainy season. The villagers have part completed a new three classroom building, but have now run out of money. We have pledged to try and help them and have a quote to complete the building.
Nema Kunku is a small school in the middle of Serrakunda, which is the largest town in The Gambia. Again they needed some equipment, which we provided, but their priority is to renovate their three classrooms. We found out that they do not own the land on which the school stands and they pay rent to the landlord of 2000 delasi (£40) per month. The teachers get no wages, and the rent and any money they do get is provided by the villagers in their school fees. We have decided to pay their rent for them, which will enable more of the school fees to be used for the teachers wages. We are also interested in buying the land for them. We have a price of 300,000 delasi (£6,000) from the landlord, but Alex, our rep in The Gambia is trying to negotiate with him. If we can manage to get the land, we will be able to provide another classroom and office for them. Priorities 1 Completion of school building for Makumbaya D245,000 (£5000) 2 Purchase of land for Nema D300,000 (£6,000) 3 Bore hole for Bafuloto Approx D200,000 (£4,000)