Team Gambia — Solihull Sixth Form College

Team Gambia

Team Gambia is a volunteering project, which raises money for the Abuko Nursery and Lower Basic School near Serrakunda in the Gambia. Solihull Sixth Form joined the project, originally started by Hamstead Hall School, in December 2013 when 10 Solihull Sixth Form students travelled to The Gambia along with 12 students from Hamstead Hall School. Since then, the project has grown and grown, with more students taking an interest each year and more money being raised.

The nursery school now comprises of 8 classrooms with almost 300 children benefitting from the facilities. We have also built a library and drilled a well as well as providing valuable teaching materials. During the pandemic the trip was on hold, but it resumed in 2023 and even when we were not able to visit, with the money raised by students in 2019 we were able to continue to pay the teachers, repair the school after storm damage and replace the water pump which serves the entire community in Abuko. In 2021 the nursery school was officially handed over to the Gambian Education department which ensures the sustainability of the project but there is still lots that we can do to help.

Fundraising:

In February 2023, 25 students joined the College’s Team Gambia. They had a target to raise £400 each and through cake and samosa sales, car boot sales, charity quizzes, tea parties and sponsored walks, many exceeded that goal. Their efforts culminated in a week-long trip to The Gambia in mid-November, where they got to see how the money they have raised is put to good use.

In total, the students raised an amazing £13,500, some of which has been used to purchase brand new furniture for three classrooms in the Lower Basic School and repair furniture for three others. We have also paid for a brand new printer, first aid and sports equipment and left money to repaint the perimeter walls. The students also brought with them 20 laptops donated by our Summit Learning Trust and a mountain of teaching resources and reading glasses.

Overall, Solihull Sixth Form students have raised more than £73,500 between 2013 and 2023, but we still want to do more! Anyone who wishes to donate funds or materials (such as teaching materials, children’s clothing or raffle prizes for fundraising events), please call 0121 704 2581.

The Trip:

While in the Gambia, the students spent every morning at the school and taught the children (aged 3 to 6) in small groups. Many of the activities that the students undertook with the children were active and visual, such as singing, craftwork, and word and picture matching and there were lots of outdoor fun and games too.

As well as working at the school, there was time for the students to experience more of the local environment and culture. They visited the mangrove swamps at Lamin, the Bijalo monkey sanctuary, bartered at Serrakunda fish and textiles market and visited the National Assembly in Banjul.

Vice Principal Janice Hamilton commented:

“It was fantastic to take a new group of students out to The Gambia in November. It was great to be back and to see the school and the children thriving. I’m proud of the work we have done over the years and every trip is a rewarding experience. It’s a fantastic opportunity for our young people to experience another culture and help children who have not had the same life chances they have been fortunate to have. They develop valuable team-work and leadership skills from being part of this project and I see how they grow in confidence, whilst also really helping the children at the school.”

Highlights of how the students got on in November 2023 are in the video below.

After the success of Team Gambia 2013, through to Team Gambia 2023, we want to do it all over again in 2024! We will start recruiting students from Year 12 in January 2024 and at the end of 2024, we will fly to Banjul in the Gambia and teach the children at the Abuko Nursery and Lower Basic School again.

Being a part of Team Gambia is a life enhancing opportunity! Just ask the students that were part of Team Gambia 2023:

Hana Mian commented:

“Working in the school was my favourite experience on the trip. I have never felt that my time was being so well spent as when we were doing activities with the kids.”

Luke Scudamore said:

“I really enjoyed the friendliness and how direct the locals were in The Gambia. I learnt patience and understanding from working with the children, as well as developing time management skills.”

Faith Lovell added:

“I learnt during my fundraising to never put a limit on myself and that resilience can really take you anywhere. I also learnt adaptability, as I had to change my activities to suit younger ages and compensate for the language barrier we encountered.”

Check out more photos of the most recent trip.

Click the links below to see Photo Galleries of past trips:

Team Gambia 2013
Team Gambia 2014
Team Gambia 2015
Team Gambia 2016
Team Gambia 2017
Team Gambia 2018
Team Gambia 2019
Team Gambia 2023

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