Team Gambia is a volunteering project at the Abuko Nursery and Lower Basic School near Banjul.
The school was built thanks to the hard work and fundraising of Hamstead Hall School in Handsworth Wood. Peter Evans at Hamstead Hall School started the project about eight years ago and The Sixth Form College, Solihull joined the project in 2013 for the first time. It is now an annual venture for the College, to support the outstanding work that Peter Evans has started.
In December 2013, we travelled to The Gambia with Hamstead Hall School. We took 10 students and Hamstead Hall took 12 students. In late 2014, the College repeated the trip, this time independently, as a group of 24 students headed out to volunteer in the school, teaching the children and improving the classrooms. This was followed by the 2015 trip with 20 students from the College, the 2016 trip which took 30 students out to visit the school and the 2017 trip for 19 adventurous students.
Every student embarking on this trip is set a challenge to raise £400 each. With it costing just £375 to pay a teacher there for one year, this fundraising target will do real good for the school in The Gambia. There is currently a large waiting list of children who want to attend the school, but they do not have room for them, despite class sizes of 50-60 children in a class. The money we raise will help fund the construction of two new classrooms to fill that demand. Staff and students will work together over the 9-10 months leading up to the trip itself to raise as much money as we can for the school. The 2018 Team raised £10,000!
Overall, we have raised approximately £50,000, 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.
After the success of Team Gambia 2013, through to Team Gambia 2018, we want to do it all over again in 2019! We will start recruiting students from Year 12 in January/February 2019 and at the end of 2019, they will fly to Banjul in The Gambia and teach the children at the Abuko Nursery and Lower Basic School. We will also take supplies out to the school, including stationery, books, toys and clothes. There will also be an opportunity for students to see some of the culture in The Gambia, with several excursions planned.
Being a part of Team Gambia is a life enhancing opportunity! Just ask the students that were part of Team Gambia 2018:
Hannah Sharp commented: “It really was a once in a lifetime opportunity – completely indescribable. To be able to see where you hard work and fundraising is going first hand and to see that it’s making such a huge difference to hundreds of people’s lives is amazing. The days out were an additional bonus – especially the monkey reserve and craft market. I was particularly struck by the realisation that things we take so easily for granted back at College such as tiled floors and chairs can make such a significant and pivotal improvement in regards to the life and education of the children.”
Hannah Knox added: “Seeing how happy the kids were to see us and spend time with us was amazing; I was surprised by how many children there were in each classroom and the school as a whole.”
See a video of the Team Gambia 2017 trip:
To see all the photos from this project, visit the SFCS Team Gambia Flickr page.