I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and wish everyone a very Happy New Year.
We have had an amazing year and achieved things even I did not think were possible. Since the new season started in late October we have had a lot of visitors and have been out on 31 visits to schools, sponsored children, Scouts etc. We have also been overwhelmed by the generosity of people with gifts for the schools, sponsored children, second hand clothing, sponsors for teachers and students as well as some very generous cash donations.
It all started with Julie Boyle doing a sponsored open water swim which raised in excess of £800, this was then closely followed by Faye Mcsloy who trained for a half marathon. Unfortunately she broke her foot just before the event but her friend Stephanie Kerry ran for her and raised over £500! It was not a good time for either of our fundraisers as Julie picked up a nasty stomach bug from the Thames and was sick for two months.
The money from these two fundraising events was used to build a new toilet block at Kuloro Nursery, install a tap in the school grounds as well as repositioning the school gates and repairing the school wall.
A big thank you to Inking About Africa who have also been working in partnership with us on many of our projects. Faye Mcsloy, who trained for the half marathon for us, is one of the trustees and they were here again in December and visited some of our projects with us and were able to be at the inauguration of the toilets at Kitty! They part funded this with Julie Boyle. We look forward to another year of working closely together.
We have also had a huge amount of support from Wurth UK and they send us a huge variety of their damaged stock ranging from nails, screws, paint brushes, to a safe that is now installed in my home to keep the charity money safe. We use a lot of their items on our building projects but the surplus we now sell in another shop in Tanji, again helping to pay for the shipping costs. This shop is also giving another local man employment. The charity has not had to pay for a shipment for a very long time now and all the items sent are much appreciated. If anyone has anything they want to donate to us for selling in the shop or to distribute to schools please contact us and we will try and arrange collection.
We have also received support of a group of ladies who have set up an auction site on Facebook where they are selling their unwated items to each other and all the funds some to us. So far they have raised £180 including gift aid. Thank you so much ladies. www.facebook.com/groups/521555207856320/
We have also had some very generous donations for Kitty School, some of the donor wish to remain anonymous but Jo & Martin Bromwich very generously set up a Virgin Moneygiving page and asked friends and family to donate instead of giving them birthday and Christmas presents this year. This page had an amazing response and including the Gift Aid we have received over £2000 from them. Their original intention was to build a new toilet block there but as they raises so much more than they originally targeted for the balance will be used towards busing the new classroom block. We are currently building the toilet block and it should be completed I the next couple of weeks. The classroom block has been started with a generous donation and you can see by the photos on Facebook that we have come quite a long way already. Once the toilets are completed we will continue work on the classrooms until the money runs out! The staff, older students and committee members have volunteered to have as many working parties as needed to make all the blocks for these projects which will save us quite a bit of money and enable us to maximize the funds we have. They all seem to have great fun doing this and it is a joy to go there and see how many people are helping. They say it is for their benefit and although they do not have money they want to play their part in the projects too.
Kitty School has also been lucky enough to receive a donation from one of our supporters to install a pump and cover for their well. This is also under way and we hope to have it all completed next week. Pictures will follow on Facebook.
Finally for Kitty school we have recently received a donation to install Football posts in the school grounds which has bought much excitement to staff and pupils alike.
For Santo-su Nursery we have just completed the new roof which was badly needed with donations from many individuals and I would like to thank everyone for their efforts in making sure this project was completed before there was an accident in the school.
We now have sponsors for many of our teachers at all the schools, in total we now have 14 teachers sponsored but we are still looking for more sponsors for another 8 teachers.
The student sponsorship programme is also growing and we now currently sponsor over 120 students at different levels of education. Only about 70 of these students have their own sponsor, the rest are supported through fundraising. We also have a long list of students in need of sponsorship.
We had our first Beach party for the level 4 children of Santo-su Nursery, 50 children attended and for almost all of them it was their first time to see the beach. They were very excited and loved every minute of the day, they had food, drinks, party hats, balloons, goody bags and prizes. When they left the beach at the end of the day they were tired but very happy. We hope to do this as an annual event for the children in level 4 as they will move on to Primary School in the summer and we would like to offer all the children this opportunity at some point. For the children in levels 1 to 3 we had a party at the school where they also had lots of food, balloons, party hats and a good time was had by all again. Thank you so much to The Crazy Family (they know who they are!) for sponsoring these two events.
We have not forgotten the children at Kuloro Nursery and would like to arrange something similar for them during the Easter holidays. Obviously this will all depend on funds but I am busy collecting suitable gifts, balloons etc in preparation for their party.
Last week we spent a day at Kuloro School with staff and committee members painting classrooms to brighten them up. We intended painting 2 of the classrooms but we were all so enthusiastic we managed 4! Unfortunately the paint ran out otherwise we would have done the last classroom as well as the Head teachers office. However I bought a small tin of paint and the Head teacher, staff and caretaker are going to do this themselves.
We have achieved a lot in a short time and I am truly amazed and thankful for the support. However our work does not stop here. We are going to need a lot more money to achieve our goals. The classroom block at Kitty is going to need another £6000, the refurbishment of the old classroom block is going to be around £1000. We need to refurbish the new toddlers classroom at Kuloro which was formally a dining hall and we would like to make it a bit more toddler friendly. The wall at Kuloro also needs further work. For Santo-su there are many projects to do but our priority will be to fence the school. The existing fence has fallen down in places and we intend to keep the good bits and repair the rest. I have not had this costed yet but will do so in the New Year.
All the schools need re painting, outside and in and we have a group of students coming in the summer months who want to do a couple, of days work on projects here so hopefully we will be able to get them on to that!
I have many more ideas bubbling away and will report on those at a later time. The priority at the moment is to work on the projects we have started and complete as much as we can before the end of the season in April.
We have just formed a fundraising committee and I would like to welcome Julie & Jeff, Cath & Mick and Bev to our merry band. They are all full of ideas for fundraising and if anyone has any suggestions please let me know and I can pass them on to the fundraising committee.
We were lucky enough to find an excellent shipping agent who have helped us enormously this year, http://moneypipe.co.uk/ We are now shipping even more school items and second clothes over thanks to their support. They collect our consignment from our collection points, ship them to The Gambia, clear them from Banjul port and call us when they have arrived at their depot in Bundung. An excellent service and they have been very generous in offering us free space in some of their containers. This has not only saved us money but time as well as we used to spend hours and hours at Banjul port trying to clear our items and get them out. A big thanks to Baboucarr Bittaye and his team at Moneypipe.
The support we have had from Moneypipe has enabled us to expand our shipments of items and we have been very fortunate to receive some fantastic donations of school items, stationery, toys, second hand clothes and other items. All the school items are distributed by us where most needed and anything sent out for free distribution we take to the communities where the items are most needed. The majority of the second hand items we sell in our shop at Tanji and this helps us to cover the costs of shipping. We sell the items at a very cheap price in a very poor area and many people can now afford to buy the good quality goods at a very reasonable price. We have now opened another shop in Tanji, in a different area with very low rent selling second hand clothes and so far this is working well, it is also giving a local man employment.
Thank you all for your support, we could not do this without you all and you are making us and the children of The Gambia very happy.
Once again we would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope that 2013 brings us all good health, peace, happiness and prosperity.
Another busy season behind us now and a big thank you to everyone who visited the schools, sponsored a child, donated to our projects, spread the word, we could not do it without you.
We have several new schools we are now working with, more about them soon but just wanted to talk a bit about the two schools we have now finished our work with. The first is the Arabic School in Brikama. It was one of our very first projects and we intended building a new school for them and at last it is finished. It took longer than we hoped as we started it in our early days and we did not have as much support as we do now. They now have a fine classroom block, four classrooms, two offices, 3 toilets and a big store all completely finished now. They had some support from another organisation last year and have now almost completed two further classroom blocks. We have left plenty of school materials there, footballs, football kit etc and wish them every success in the future.
At Basori Nursery School we are very proud to have completed fenced the school, provided toilets and a big store cupboard full of teaching materials, toys, mats etc. We had planned to continue to work with this school by providing teachers’ salaries but after discussion with the school committee it was agreed that we would leave the school in the hands of the committee to develop further. Unfortunately they did not want to keep the two teachers that we had employed but I am happy to say that we have now placed both of them at new schools and very happy they are too! We have had a wonderful time at Basori and I know many people have very fond memories of their visits there, we shall miss them but leave knowing that the school is in a better condition than when we found it. We wish them every success for the future too.
On to our new projects. The first school is Santosu Nursery, in Brikama. It is a very well organised school with dedicated staff but they were lacking in many items to enable the staff to teach the children as well as they wanted to. We have had several visits there with visitors and have been given a very warm welcome by staff children, parents and committee members. They have received many items and now boast a much healthier looking store cupboard. Three members of staff have been at the school since it was built in 1996 and they relied on volunteers to come on to help with the classes. We are happy to announce that Mr Camara, originally from Basori is now a full time member of staff there and is about to start his three year course at The Gambia College studying Early Childhood Development. We have also provided salary to another new member of staff, Abdoulie Sarr, who is about to start his third year at The Gambia College. Now the four classes each have a qualified (or studying to be) teacher and the Head teacher, Alkali Cham is free to run the school and oversee the teaching methods and staff. They have very quickly formed themselves into a very tight knit and happy group of staff, it is a pleasure to see them all working so well together. We have also provided an allowance to increase the salary of the other two teachers and hope to get more sponsors so we can cover the monthly salary payments for the school which will enable them to use the small amount they get from school fees for developing the school, paying for the water etc. During the Easter holidays we laid new floors in every classroom plus the office, they were in a very poor condition before. Our plan for next season is to put a new roof on the school building. It has been there since it was built and is now in a very state of repair. Already the rainy season winds have lifted some of the corrugate so with the holes already there it will be very uncomfortable there when it rains. It is a very big building and will need 20packets of corrugate at 1400 dalasis ( just over £30) each to replace the whole roof, plus the nails, a few timbers that need replacing plus the labour I estimate it will cost just over £700 to do. We look forward to more visits there next season.
Our second school is Kitty Arabic School. Kitty is a village just outside of Brikama. The children at this school start from Nursery to grade 8 so the age range is from 3 to about 16. Once again we have had visitors at the end of the season and Kitty also has a very enthusiastic way of welcoming visitors! This school has had no support over the years and were desperate for very basic supplies. They had no pens, pencils or paper for their exams earlier this year which was when we first got involved. We have now provided them with more of the same plus exercise books, chalk, posters, worksheets, sport equipment. We also worked with the charity Inking About Africa http://www.inkingaboutafrica.com/ (please have a look at their website and see if you can help by donating used ink cartridges) and with a donation from Stowmarket Lions Club we have provided much needed benches and tables for four classrooms. With donations from visitors we have put a new roof and timbers on one of the classroom blocks and new windows and shutters on the same block. This is the block where much of the new furniture has been placed. Our next project there is to put a new roof on the other classroom block and window shutters, then we want to build a new classroom block for the nursery and primary one so that the other classes can be used to go up to grade 9 which is an examination year which will mean students are not transferring to Brikama for their last year. There is a lot to do there and I can imagine we will be working there for some time. They are also in constant need of school stationery and resources.
The third school we are planning to work with is a nursery at Kuloro, which is passed Brikama and Madina Ba. We have only recently visited there when Ebrima Njie, the former Headteacher at Basori took over there. The school has been in existence for many years and used to be a busy well attended school. It was formerly funded by CCF, a large charity working in The Gambia and many other countries. They provided the buildings and ran the school for some time before switching their priorities to children with disabilities. The school has gradually seen a decrease in the students attending and consequently a drop in fees being paid so the staffs have been working for a long time without salaries. I met with the teachers and school committee and they are delighted to have Mr Njie and GOAL For The Gambia on board. We were able to provide a few school materials for them but our stocks were very low as it is the end of the season and almost everything had been distributed. However, they were very grateful for the items we did donate and we will endeavour to provide them with much more when school opens again in September. The village have already held meetings to discuss developments and the parents have committed to returning their children to the school and supporting the teachers as best they can. We have agreed to pay one of the teachers as well as Mr Njie and hope we will be able to offer salaries to other teachers before too long.
We have two other schools we are working with in a smaller way. One is St Francis School near to Sanyang. It is a huge Christian School and many of our Scouts attend there. It has a nursery, lower basic, upper basic and senior secondary school on campus. As with all our schools it is in a very poor community and we have promised to try and help them with resources and already sponsor about 15 students there. We have had two visits there and they were both very enjoyable, we also paid another visit to donate more materials, books, encyclopaedias, craft materials which were very well received.
The other school is in Somita which is further upcountry in the Fone area. Another Arabic School with very little in the way of resources. We have donated pens, pencils, exercise books, footballs, blackboard paint and other items but have yet to take visitors there. We hope to do so next season.
The village of Somita is actually the village where my husband and his family come from, hence my interest there and his family have very generously offered us a very large piece of land in a very good position to build our own nursery if we wish to. We will give this some every serious thought over the coming months as the village is definitely in need of one and it would be nice to have our own nursery with staff selected by us and run as we see best. I will discuss the idea with the Dept of Education and see if they agree there is a need before we go any further. The journey to Somita will take about one and a half hours from the tourist area and I hope some visitors will be interested in visiting next season. It is a very different environment further up country and in my opinion very beautiful too.
You may wonder whether we are taking on too much. After discussing this with other trustees and supporters we agreed that it would be better for the charity and reach more children if we took on more projects. We were very busy last season and at one point we were visiting Basori nursery almost every day. This is not good for the children or the community as there is a risk that the community will become dependent on the charity and this would not be good for the schools long term future. Visitors are very generous with the items they bring along for the schools and we believe it best shared amongst needy schools.
The scouts continue to improve and grow in numbers. Janko, the scout leader has worked very hard with the young people; he held a training camp during the Easter holidays, part funded by us. Here he trained many more boys and girls for the band, teaching them to play the musical instruments and also doing drill training. The camp was very successful and the future of the Scout band has never looked brighter. Many of the Scouts join the police and Army bands when they are old enough and this of course is very good for the reputation of Sanyang Scout Troop but not so good for the Scout band! Most of the members who leave to join the police and Army return during their leave and assist Janko with the training. Earlier this year Sanyang Scouts were awarded a trophy by the National Scout Association as best organised Scout Troop and Band. We have taken a few people to visit the Scouts and all have been very impressed at the dedication and professionalism they show.
Two visitors were so impressed with Janko and his leadership skills and also very sympathetic to his search for employment. He is well educated and has done a number of courses since leaving school but finds it hard to get employment; sometimes it is not what you know but who you know! However we are delighted that these visitors have offered to pay a salary to Janko every month to work for the charity. He has already proved himself to be invaluable and with him and Fansu making up the team here I feel we can achieve much more.
The sponsorship scheme is also doing very well with 102 sponsored students at various different levels of education starting from Nursery up to University as well as some in Skills Training. Roughly half of these students have direct sponsors and the rest have their fees paid from charity funds. Some supporters pay a little over the odds for “their” sponsored students and this then goes onto the fund for paying all the school fees in September. It seems to work well this way but we are always looking for new sponsors, either for new students or our existing ones.
We had three First Aid Training Days in December provided by First Aid For Gambia http://www.firstaid4gambia.org/ ,at Basori ( their second year running), Brikama Arabic School and the Sanyang Scouts also were given the opportunity. The days were really valued by the participants and on more than one occasion I have visited a school to find them putting their First Aid skills into practise. First Aid for Gambia provide a large first aid kit for each school and return annually to check on the contents, accident book and replenish stock. We also do our best to keep the boxes stocked up and visitors often bring us First Aid items which is really useful A big thank you to First Aid For Gambia for their support, we hope to see them again this year and maybe even arrange training at some of our new projects.
Once again thank you to everyone who has supported us this year, please keep spreading the word, check our Facebook page for updates https://www.facebook.com/pages/Goal-For-The-Gambia/181077235260338 , our website will be updated very soon and we hope to see you all in The Gambia again next season.
Best Wishes to you all
GOAL For The Gambia – Trustee and Founder
Many of you may be wondering what has happened with our work at Basori. After many discussions with the School Committee there we feel that we have now reached a point where the school is ready to support itself. We are very proud of what we have achieved in the three years we have been working there and now feel it is time to move to new projects that will benefit from the support we offer. It was a very hard decision to make but they are well set up now, the school has toilets and is fenced and gated. They have plenty of school materials as well as play materials. We are worried that by continuing our support the school and community will become dependent on us and that is not good for their long term future. Three of the teachers are staying there and at the request of the school committee two of the other teachers are going to be relocated. I was very disappointed about this but have already placed Mr Camara at a school in Brikama that we are supporting and Mr Njie, the Headteacher will have a choice of several schools. They are both attending the Gambia College for the their qualifications in Early Childhood Development, Mr Njie is about to start his second year and Mr Camara will begin the course this summer. Both of them will continue to be paid by the charity and their studies will also be funded by us. The other teachers at Basori will now be paid by the community and the sponsorship for those teachers will now pass to new teachers in our recent projects with the consent of their sponsors.
For those of you wondering, what about Baba? Don't worry we will continue to support him in the best way we can and will be talking to his mother in the near future to ensure that he continues his education and remains part of the charity. He has been a real star for us, he has many friends and fans and we will not be abandoning him. I know many of you would like to sponsor Baba and if you want to send me a message if you want to do this please do.
Although I feel quite sad about this I am also very excited about our new projects. Basori have had a huge amount of support over the time we have been there and it is good to have new challenges and help even more children and schools. If anyone has any questions or concerns about this please send me a message and I will do my best to answer you.
Santosu Nursery is a registered ECD (Early Childhood Development) school and in my opinion very well run. It has 4 classrooms with 4 teachers and a headteacher. It is a community nursery and was built in 1996 by the local community with some help towards the final stages from a British Company. There are 186 students there aged between 3 & 7. They have water on site and toilets, it is also partly fenced. All the work done on site is by the local community and on my visit there it was very clear to see that the parents are very keen to support the school. However it is in a very poor area of Brikama and although the fees are only 100 dalasis a month many cannot afford to pay. The teachers salaries, water bill and resources are all funded through the fees. If you do the sums you will see this is just not enough to manage the school. On my visit I asked to see the store room and was shocked to see a tiny box with a few felt pens, an old football with the plastic bag that should have been inside, out of the ball and punctured and that was more or less it!! They have no pencils or exercise books and have to rely on parents to provide these items, not all can afford it. In nursery 4, the last level, they are using really old slates for writing on but do not have much chalk.
The staff are very committed and I was very impressed at the standard of the teaching and the education the children are getting. The staff are very resourceful and have made up their own "flash" cards and teaching aids.
We took our visitors there last week and were overwhelmed by the welcome from the children, staff and parents. They were so happy to receive visitors and wanted to male us happy! They certainly did that!
We are happy to announce that we are happy to offer our support to this needy school and will take interested visitors there and do our best to provide them with the items they need. When I asked the Head teacher what they needed this is what he requested:- pencils. colouring pencils, books, exercise books, paper, chalk, sharpeners, rubbers, rulers, wall charts, flash cards, work sheets, reward stickers, footballs, soft balls and play dolls. Simple items but so necessary.
If anyone is interested in visiting this lovely little school or donating items please contact us.
Kitty is a village just outside of Brikama and I have visited the school earlier this year and found they are really in need of a lot of help. They have 3 classroom blocks with a total of 8 classrooms. 2 of the blocks were built about 25 years ago and are in a very poor state of repair. The 3rd block was built by the teachers themselves with mud blocks but plastered with cement. They have hardly any school materials or resources, in fact on my first visit I took 500 pencils and 500 pens as they were about to sit exams and did not have enough to go round. They have hardly any classroom furniture and what they do have is in very poor condition, only two of the classrooms have desks and students sitting 3 to 4 to a desk intended for 2 people. The children range from nursery to grade 8. The children in grade three have exams coming up and no desks to work at. The children in the other classrooms are all learning to write but have to use their laps as desks.
Today I took 2 packets of corrugate so they can start to repair the roof before the rainy season as there are big holes in the existing ones. I have pledged to provide them with the rest as soon as possible. We are hoping to be able to raise funds to maintenance the classrooms and provide desks and chairs. After that is completed we would like to build a new classroom block for the nursery with three classrooms. At present nursery 1,2, 3 plus primary 1 are all in the same tiny classroom. Today I counted 58 children in a class where 20 would have been tight but comfortable. This is of course a long term project but with the help of our supporters I hope it will not take too long to start work.
There are 350 children in this school with 8 very committed teachers. They are very proud of the results their students achieve and the senior schools are active in recruiting graduates from this school.
Today I took our first visitors there, we wondered whether the President was coming through the village as the main road was lined with students with banners and branches waving wildly. No, this was the greeting we were given. the whole school had come out to welcome us and walked us through the village with a lot of singing, drumming and impromptu dancing. It was amazing!! They were so happy to receive visitors they could not contain themselves. The two ladies I took there were completely overwhelmed as was I. We toured the school, looked at the store room, which was huge, 3 rooms but nothing in them other than wood they had been collecting to try and do some work on the school an a few books. I will post pictures in our Facebook page. Had a gathering outside with the teachers, some PTA members, and students where the ladies handed over their gifts to the school pencils, colours, balls, posters for the classrooms and many other items. The staff were so grateful, never having received gifts like this before. We then spent some time at a friends compound where we had a delicious lunch before reluctantly leaving late afternoon. The lady visitors said they had an amazing day and one that could never be repeated or forgotten. Me neither!!
I hope we will get more visitors to the school and as much help as possible. It is very exciting to be starting a new project in addition to the one at Basori and I look forward to a long and peaceful partenrship with the school and the community in Kitty.