Newsletter July 2013
It has been an amazing year for us again. This last season has been our best yet and a big thank you goes out to everyone who has contributed in one way or another. I don’t want to single out individuals here as it would be a very long list and hopefully I have thanked you all either personally or publicly on our Facebook page.
We had many return visitors to our schools again this year which more than made up for the decline in new visitors. It is lovely to see old faces again, many of you have become personal friends which for me is a bonus!
We have also had two groups of students this year, both of which were a joy to spend time with. I thank all the students, teachers and their school and college in supporting their trips.
This time I had set the charity a huge task by supporting three new schools, Kitty School, Santo-su Nursery and Kuloro Nursery. All of them have benefitted enormously from the visits and school materials, toys, clothes that have been brought along by visitors.
We had projects at all three schools and I am delighted to report that the work we have achieved at each school has exceeded even my expectations!
At Santo-su Nursery we replaced the roof after re laying the classroom floors. We pay each teacher an amount every month through the generosity of sponsors and one of the new teachers has just been accepted at the Gambian College to study Early Childhood Development. This is a three year course and once again thank you to the sponsors who have made this possible. Mr Camara is also starting his second year of the course sponsored by supporters. We will continue our support of the teachers and also school materials at this school but we have no plans to do any further construction work as they have now been approached by a Dutch charity who want to do far more than we could expect to do there.
Kuloro Nursery have had a new toilet block built, window shutters on all the classrooms and office and we are currently renovating the old dining room block into a toddler class and store. They have also started their own gardens and are growing bananas and vegetables, ( seeds donated by visitors) and hope to raise income for the benefit of the school by selling these. This has all been overseen by the new Caretaker. All the teachers there are also in receipt of a small payment every month through donated funds. Two of the unqualified teachers there have also been accepted at the Gambia College to do their three year ECD training, sponsored by supporters. Mr Njie is about to start his final year at the college and that will mean that all teachers there are qualified or training.
Kitty School has been our biggest project this year and amazingly we have achieved a new toilet block, renovated the two old classroom blocks including re roofing, both have been painted inside and out by Carmel College students, a capped well and pump and renovation of the old nursery, it was two tiny classrooms accommodating more than 150 students. It has now all been knocked into one, the mud blocks have been plastered with cement, new foundations dug to support the building and a verandah is now protecting the entrance to the classroom. The students from Carmel College did a fantastic job in painting and decorating the classroom. We are currently having a store cupboard built in there and shelving to hold all the lovely new toys, books and educational support items we hope to have donated by September.
Our biggest project by far at Kitty was the construction of a new 4 classroom block including an office for the Head teacher and stationery store. To be honest I expected this to be a two to three year project but with the generosity or sponsors it is almost completed. We have made the decision to commit to a September opening. All we have to do now is furnish it! We estimate the cost to furnish these four classrooms with desks, chairs, teachers desk and chair as well as the Head teachers office and store will be approximately £2000. I am delighted to report that we have already had a very generous donation from a Carmel College student and her mother as well as other donations and we are on the way to meeting our target. We are now hoping to replace all the furniture in the whole school as soon as possible. The nursery block has the furniture which was donated last year so we will be giving them a fresh coat of varnish so they look as good as they did when they were first made.
We also pay Kitty school money every month to ensure that each teacher will receive something for their efforts all through the year. We have also just committed to funding three of the teachers to a three year course ( carried out in the summer months) to gain qualifications on Arabic Studies, so qualifying them to be Arabic teachers. At present we have no sponsors for them so if anyone would like to sponsor their studies it costs £70 a year for three years. We are also looking for additional sponsors to pay the three new teachers we will be employing from September.
Our sponsorship programme continues to expand and we are now sponsoring almost 150 students plus 20 teachers.
The Sanyang Scouts go from strength to strength led by Janko Jabang who is also now employed by the charity as a field worker. We have take several visitors to see the Scouts in action and every time I am very moved by the commitment and discipline displayed by the Scouts, the Scout Band and also the newly formed Majorettes group. The whole group has come to the attention of The President and last month he was greeted by the Scouts and Majorettes in Sanyang. He was so impressed by the group and especially the Majorettes as they are the only group in The Gambia that he made a donation of D10,000 ( around £200) to the group. The Scouts no longer have their link with the 5th Sunbury Scouts at present as they are also raising funds for a new toilet for their HQ in the UK so if anyone knows of any Scout Troop that would like to link with our Scouts I would be very happy to arrange that.
WE have had two very successful beach days, one at Christmas for the grade 4 students at Santo-su nursery and one at Easter for grade 4 at Kuloro. Both of these days were sponsored by supporters. The children and staff all had wonderful days. For many of them this was the first time to the beach and they were all very excited and some a little overwhelmed. With lots of help they were able to go in the sea, build sandcastles, have sports races, lunch and dinner. Great fun for all of them and something we hope to do again this year. We also took some of the sponsored children to the beach with their sponsors when they visited and these days were also much enjoyed by children sponsors and the GOAL For The Gambia team.
We have now formed a fundraising committee in the UK supporting the work of Paul, the trustee in the UK headed by Julie Russell. We have five committee members and they are all working hard together to support us and help to raise much needed funds and goods for the schools. Julie is also coordinating the shipping which is coming out to us about once a month now with Moneypipe who have been amazing and very supportive of our work. We have two collection points now for donated items, one in Erith in Kent and the other in Wigan, they will even travel to collect items if the distance is not too far! We are collecting almost anything from second hand clothes and household items to school supplies. Most of the second hand clothes are sold in our charity shops here in The Gambia and this raises the funds to keeping sending the boxes of goods. The charity does no use funds for these shipments, all costs are covered by the sale of the clothes and this means that all items donated to the schools are shipped out without any direct cost to the charity. A massive thank you to Julie, Jeff, Cath, Mick and Bev from Paul and I for their tireless support.
We are also very lucky to have the support of Wurth UK who send us many goods for use on our projects or to sell here to raise funds for the charity. They have sent us so many items I cannot list them all but they include pencils, pens, nails, screws, tools, a safe and office furniture. Thank you to them for their support also.
All these items from Wurth and the second hand goods are sold in a total of four small shops in Tanji where I live. This gives employment to four trusted Gambians who each receive a (very) small percentage of their sales.
I am also grateful to Fansu & Janko who are employed by the charity to assist me in our work here. They have many tasks but the biggest one is the coordination of the sponsored students. They each have a case load and are responsible for gathering all information about the students, paying their school fees and acting as liaison between the schools and the charity. We are happy to welcome Bless to our small staff group, like Janko he is sponsored by supporters to work with us. Bless has been volunteering with us for many years now and I am happy to be able to pay him a small salary every month.
Our plans for 2013/2014 season are to continue work at Kitty, finishing off the new classroom block, renovating an old building already there into a library/study area, completely re furnishing all the classrooms and building a perimeter fence. We will also continue to support Kuloro and Santo-su by taking visitors there and ensuring they have the materials they need to teach creatively.
In the future we have plans to build our own Nursery School in Somita village in the Foni district, this is a little further out than our other projects but now very accessible as the new road now goes through that village. This village is where my husband’s family all originate and my father in law has very generously donated a large plot of land to build a school. We are very excited about this as this will be our first school built completely from scratch and will become the first GOAL For The Gambia nursery in The Gambia.
A very busy year but a very successful one. I hope that we can continue to build on this years work and look forward to another exciting year ahead.
If anyone needs any further information or wishes to sponsor a teacher or a student please contact me. Also if anyone wants to fundraise for any of our projects we have a Virgin Moneygiving page where you can set up your sponsored event and money will come direct to us.
You can get more information on our work at the following
Facebook page www.facebook.com/goalforthegambia
Our website http://goal4gambia.org/
Follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/GOAL4TheGambia
Thank you so much for reading this lengthy newsletter and for all your support.
Founder – GOAL For The Gambia.