15 November 2016
Day 13 Monday
After saying goodbye to Regina and David at breakfast, Pippa and I set off to visit some schools in the south west of The Gambia. The purpose of the visits was mainly to take photos of our sponsored children, but in some cases to pay sponsorship monies. It took just under an hour to get to the first school, St Francis. That school has a Lower Basic and Upper Basic on the same site and a Senior Secondary a short distance away. We had just brief visits to each and then on to Banyaka LBS where we were met by Jerreh Manneh, the Principal.
Pageant has one sponsored student at that school whom we met and then the discussion turned to some funding we had received to spend at the school. Chestnut Grove Academy in Balham, South London had raised the equivalent of 40,000 Dalasi and wanted it to be spent directly on helping the children there, rather than on, say, buildings. After discussion it was agreed to spend a small amount in marker pens for teachers and the rest on exercise books for the students. There are about 900 children at the school and this will be sufficient to buy about 3 for each.
That school has a large garden and we were pleased to donate some of the seeds donated by the parents of Manor Green School.
On then to Jambanjelly school. We are familiar with this school as we carried out science workshops there in February this year and last. A quick visit and discussion with the new Headteacher and on to Sifoe school for our only disappointment of the day because the students who we wanted to see were not there.
Next was St Marks LBS in Sandali. This was a quite astonishing drive. We swung off the highway onto what looked like a fairly narrow footpath. It was in face a narrow drive. With bushes scraping the sides of the car Abdoulie drove superbly for about 3 miles on very sandy tracks. Although we had to have the windows shut because of the bushes, the car was filled with the most magnificent scent from the shrubs – a bit like lemon balm.
A final visit to Tujering Senior Secondary then the longish drive back to the hotel.
In the evening we met Mr Drammeh, who was the Headteacher at SOS Senior Secondary until he retired earlier this year. We have been trying to trace two of our most able students who left that school in July. He was able to give us some information that should enable us to re-establish contact.