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The Diary of a volunteer in The Gambia: Part 5

Stefania, our volunteer, talks about our Education project and the situation in the school. We are so happy to be able to make a difference, but we know that there is a long way to go.

“Today we met with a representative from the Ministry of Education, the Headmaster and the teachers of the Balanghar Basic Cycle School. We’d spent hours collecting, counting and packing all the stationary to donate but first, we wanted to understand the struggles of working in a remote village where education is not accessible for everyone.

We’ve heard about the subjects they teach and the projects they coordinate. ‘Education is key’ echos in every conversation here. We share ideas about what could be improved, but resources are scarce. We’ve found out that there are 516 kids enrolled this year. 100 more then we expected. There is only one classroom available for ECD (Early Childhood Development) children which means that 90 kids have to stay in one small class. This class has no furniture so they can’t learn to write until first grade. None of the ECD has a uniform to wear, just like many of their older friends. We’ve also been told that there are not enough teachers here so classes are run both in the morning and in the afternoon to cover all grades. Two classrooms don’t even have furniture. All of this got us stumped. We started looking at the 25kg of stationary we had in our boxes. This seemed to be nothing compared to what they need.

We decided to leave stats behind and start the distribution of stationary. It was clear we didn’t have enough for everyone and the hardest part was to decide who to give it to so we left that to the teachers. The kids came out of the classrooms and we started distributing pens. We could only give one to each kid and yet, I have never seen so much appreciation in someone’s eyes. Some of them even called us by our names and asked to play with us. This managed to wipe off any frustration. I left the school feeling emotional and thinking that these kids are giving us much more than we give to them. Today was so full of hope and motivation that we are already working on what to do after this trip.

Next steps: repainting three classrooms and asking for quotes for uniforms and the furniture they need. It may take time, but we can still make a difference. Dnaee ko def (we’ll get there).”

The reason why we exist is to help kids get access to education which is the reason why we need your support to help furbish the classrooms and offer the tools and environment for a better future.

Thank you to everyone who donated stationary for this year’s trip.

peopleforchangeThe Diary of a volunteer in The Gambia: Part 5