Charity no 1139982



A summary in words and images of our recent trip to The Gambia – please do read and find out more about why The Bansang Educational Appeal exists and the difference that, with your help, we can make, thank you, Peter Ward, Trustee.

Tuesday 15th

Today, we left the coast and our comfortable rooms at Luigi’s to travel by a good metalled road along the south bank of the Gambia river on a 5 hour journey to Bansang. Our party comprised Annabel, her daughter Bethany, Peter and Sheena, and our driver was Ismaila Ceesay – the head teacher at Bansang Senior School. The journey is roughly 350 kms! The mountains of school books, pens ,chalk ,pencils etc , which were to form the bulk of our donations to the Bansang schools, followed in a taxi! We stopped for afternoon prayers around 2pm  and arrived at the compound of Jabou (HT at Daru primary school) at 5pm, to be treated to a huge meal of rice, veg, fish, salad and chips!

Sheena and Peter stayed in Margie’s Lodge in the centre of Bansang, whilst Annabel and Bethany were accommodated in Ismaila’s rooms in the Senior School.

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Wednesday 16th

Sheena and I commence our tour of schools in the Bansang area, to re-enforce our objectives of supporting small infrastructure projects, and donating school materials.

We visited Bansang Upper Basic school first, where we met HT  Mr Darboe and 3 of his senior staff , who gave us a comprehensive tour of the school, which caters for 867 students in grades 7-9 (363 boys and 504 girls). Typically, there were huge demands on cash, largely outside our remit, and mostly for repairs and upgrades to existing classrooms. More achievable for BEA would be re-roofing the library, and mending cracks and extending the building to cater for the ever increasing pupil numbers.

A short distance away lies Sololo Basic Cycle School, which we have supported for many years. HT  Mr Baldeh welcomed us back and we presented him with more school materials, generously provided by our UK donors.

Our final visit of the day was to a small lower Basic School at Fugga, which is being gradually being transformed from a tiny nursery to a mainstream  primary school with 162 children. HT  Mr Ba is the only full time qualified teacher too! Our visit co-incided with the sight of a broken water pump – a disaster in this arid community. Happily we were able to transform lives immediately with BEA funds supplying the necessary materials to fix the problem the next day.

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Thursday 17th

An exciting and deeply rewarding ‘off road’ trip deep into the bush for Sheena and Peter today seeing schools never visited before, but all within the BEA remit.

Furthest from Bansang is Sukuta Lower Basic school, which has been the recipient of 49575 Dalasi (about £850 at todays exchange rate) since 2013. Here we received an extremely warm welcome from HT Mr Konateh and his staff, and learnt the inportance of ‘respect’ and ‘ethics’ in daily life. We were delighted to donate Dalasi 30000 (£500) for doors and windows for the school kitchen, and uniforms for ECD years.

Our amazing journey through the african savannah then brought us to Chargel Basic Cycle school. Here HT  Mr Nyangado demonstrated  how simply the replacement of cement based blackboards, by painted wooden ones would drastically reduce the consumption of chalk! We aim to supply 14 at a cost of £15 each.

Final stop on our journey was Sare Kintee Lower Basic school – a new addition to the BEA sphere of influence.  HT  Mr Touray and his team is responsible for 246 pupils and 9 classes. We identify the need for solar panels.

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Friday 18th

A day to remember, as we again meet the inspirational Jabou Kongira, HT of Daru Lower Basic school, situated a few miles outside Bansang. This school has been a long term recipient of BEA funding, as a result of the kindness and support for BEA ideals and principles over the years. This time was no exception, and we were delighted to hand over Dalasi 15000 (£250) to Jabou, some of which was immediately earmarked for spending on rice to feed the children. It was especially enjoyable as Sheena and Peter were joined by Annabel and Bethany.

Here we also saw the exemplary work being implemented for deaf and special needs children.

A short distance away, lies the community of Sare Giddeh, and its newly established Lower Basic school.  Another enthusiastic welcome by the staff at this former annex of Daru school.

This wonderful journey was completed by Annabel completing the somewhat arduous task of interviewing and awarding BEA grants to a wide range of 6th form students at the Bansang Senior school. Indeed , the bulk of funds raised by BEA is directed towards deserving pupils to enable then to complete their studies. All are vetted initially by HT Ismaila Ceesay.

This process is combined with the ‘matching’ of donors to individual pupils, who are then encouraged to write to their UK sponsors in due course.

Sheena and Peter sat as observers to this process and then posed for photos with a number of pupils.

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Saturday 19th

The short, but immensely rewarding visit concluded for S & P, and there remained the prospect of a long journey back to the coast by ‘express’ coach. This proved to be another very memorable highlight, as we were the only foreigners on the whole journey. We sped along the main road at speeds of up to 100 kms, stopping only at the main communities en route and at endless check points along the way (quite normal!).

A £5.50 fare for a 6 hour journey was a bargain, particularly as the ticket brought with it free drinks and biscuits! They were supplemented at each stop by local Gambian girls coming aboard selling bananas and delicious flavoured ice in plastic bags!

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