28 June 2021
It has been a good month, with Baboucarr and Sunkary settling well into their jobs. The roof on the toilet block has been finsihed and the solar is in the process of being upgraded. Here are the solar panels being replaced.
We also have some good and some sad news. The good news is that one of the goats, Scape, gave birth to a male kid, which has been named by the children as Uncle Sanjeen.
The sad news is that Scape disappeared and Alimamo and Mass have been bottle feeding Uncle Sanjeen.
Just a couple of days ago, a woman visiting the school recognised the kid and told Alimamo that the kid’s mother had died at the ‘women’s garden’ after drinking contaminated water.
The rains are already heavy and sometimes everyone struggles to get to the school as the sand roads turn to streams. We feel for the children as they are currently taking their end of year exams.
10 May 2021
More staff news: Sunkary Manneh has been promoted to Deputy Head of Teaching. She joins Alimamo Ceesay [Head of School] and Baboucarr Mboub [Head of Teaching] as part of the management team. End of the School Year is August 13th. Sadly, we will lose one of our valued teachers, Sirreh Camara, as she is going back to college for further studies.
We will be losing 3 or 4 sponsors by the end of the school year and, on behalf of the children, teachers and trustees, a huge thank them for all you have done so far. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor please go to our sponsorship page. For now, sponsorship remains at £10 a month or £120 for the year. We may have to reconsider this in light of the huge increase in cost of food products in The Gambia. We are about to undertake an audit of costs and compare now to when we first set the fees.
The school is on a half term break this week. It has been a difficult term so far, as it always is during Ramadan. Nevertheless, the teachers and the children continued with their studies.
28 March 2021
We promoted Alimamo Ceesay to Head of School and Baboucarr Mboub as Head of Teaching.
March 8th was Commonwealth Day, it is celebrated each year by many nursery and primary schools in The Gambia. All the children are encouraged to come dressed in their tribal costumes and bring a plate of traditional food of their tribe. Lessons for the day are about togetherness and peaceful coexistence. As always in The Gambia, it is also an excuse to party.
We also appointed 2 new cooks, Ndey and Nyimanding. They have settled in really well and the children are loving their cooking.
The children underwent their termly assessments. Mostly the children are doing really well. Just a few struggling and need extra support.
There will be 37 children graduating in July, all of Nursery 4 and a few of Nursery 3 (who had stayed on past leaving age as they had struggled with learning). 27 of these leavers are sponsored children.
The One Child One Tree Project restarted after losing all the seedlings during school shut down. The new seedlings are doing really well with the children watering daily.
A couple of weeks ago, we made an urgent appeal on Facebook for funds to buy medication for intestinal worms. Our school nurse Fatoumatta had been off for a while having broken both knees and her elbow. A friend of Alimamo’s who is a pharmacist came to see the children for a health check. Many complained of abdominal pain, a sure symptom of intestinal worms out there. Getting rid of the infestation is important to prevent malnutrition. Intestinal worms are parasitic in nature. This means that they feast on the nutrition of their host–the child. This may eventually lead to malnutrition in the child, impair growth and lead to issues such as anaemia, recurrent tummy pain, diarrhoea and vomiting. The generosity of so many of you led to us raising £720. The medication was purchased and distributed, leaving us with another £450 in the coffers to restock the medical store with other medication as well.
A number of you generously donated towards new roofs for the classrooms and toilet block. I am delighted to report that the work has started. There has been some difficulty in purchasing materials as there seems to be a shortage of building materials. However, having driven many many miles, Alimamo has managed to get enough to replace the roof on 2 of the classrooms so far. It is hopeful that all will be replaced before the next rainy season. Also, the annual task of repainting has also started.
26 February 2021
All is going well at the school. We are a little concerned as the number of positive Covid tests is going up daily over there. From March 8th the Gambian Government has banned all large gatherings. There is no indication, as yet, of them ordering a further lockdown. Nevertheless, the lack of tourists means that unemployment and poverty are increasing more and more.
If you remember, last February the school started One Child One Tree. Sadly, during the months the school was closed, most of the seedlings dies. Therefore, a couple of weeks ago, they restarted the initiative.
The roofs will be replaced during the Easter break. In preparation, the Kebba tree had to be coppiced. We are assured that within a couple of months it will re-grow its leaves.
19 January 2021
About 18 months ago, we shipped over hundreds of donated children’s shoes. Every child received a pair or 2 then. There are still loads left. Here are the tiny tots receiving their gift of shoes today. The rest of the children will receive theirs as the week goes on.
7 January 2021
We congratulate our student teachers, Mamu Njie, Modoulamin Ceesay and Sirah Camara who received their Certificates in Early Childhood Development.
We also welcome a new student teacher: Fatou Saidybah
23 December 2020
Thanks to the generosity of one of our sponsors, the school had a great Christmas party. Food served was Ebbeh (a traditional Gambian soup made with vegetables (usually cassava, but sometimes also sweet potatoes and coco yam), palm oil, chili peppers, lime juice, stock cubes, water, tamarind, and seafood such as bonga fish, catfish, prawns, and crabs). Also grilled chicken. Plus loads more!
Here are a few of the photos we were sent.
2 December 2020
Some of the money raised was given to the late Malang Dahaba’s family to buy food for his 40 day charity. In The Gambia, it customary for Muslims to have 3 days of mourning which is followed by a 40 day charity. The 40th day is said to be the day their soul enters heaven and so more prayer vigils are performed. The family and friends then gather together for a meal.
During November and December, Afrikaya raised over £4000 to buy loads of rice, onions, potatoes, oil, stock cubes, and so on. We provided food for all of our sponsored children’s families and many others both at the school and in the neighbourhood. Many who are struggling, even more so this year because of the economic disaster that the pandemic has caused.
3 November 2020
We started our Christmas Appeal
2 November 2020
We received the sad news that Malang Dahaba, our retired night-time security guard had died. May his soul rest in peace.
28 October 2020
At last, the school is allowed to re-open. We also welcomed our new assistant cook, Awa Jissah.
Hand-washing facilities in place and more lessons on how to stay safe.
12 October 2020
On 1 October, the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education [MoBSE], held “Community outreach organized by the six Regional Education Directorates using cluster monitors and itinerant teachers to sensitize students, teachers, parents, School Management Committees, Mother Clubs and various stakeholders in their respective communities on Covid-19 guidelines and preventions as the sector prepares for the reopening of schools.”
The decision has been made by the MoBSE that all nursery schools will reopen on 28 October. Therefore, last Monday, Ismaila and Alimamo began ‘Registration’ for all the children. Conducted outdoors and socially distanced. When they have completed registration, they will work out which of the children require sponsorship.
We are guessing they will find there are far more children requiring sponsorship. Up until the pandemic, over half of the students had been funded for their education by their families. Employment in New Yundum tends to be at the airport and in the tourist industry. Also, many of the families had been supported by relatives living in Europe – mostly in low paid jobs and may well now be unemployed. Many repatriated to The Gambia because of this. Consequently, many more families are facing chronic hardship. If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please go to our child sponsorship page
During June and July, Ismaila and Baboucarr held a twice weekly ‘homework club’ for those children who were due to leave and go on to Primary School. The children would arrive at school individually to collect homework and return their completed homework a couple of days later and collect more. This was very successful with the majority of the ‘leavers’ attending.
While the school has been closed, Alimamo has continued to organise repairs and improvements. He had hoped to install new roofs on the classrooms, but this year the rainy season has been particularly heavy and prolonged. Hopefully some of this can be done during the Christmas break.
Talking of Christmas, clearly none of the trustees will be flying out there this year. However, we will send money for gifts for families and a party for the children. We are likely to start our Christmas appeal during November. We will let you know. Sadly, there will be no way of getting Christmas cards to the school as the Gambian Postal Service is notoriously bad. Hopefully we will be able to visit March 2021 and could take greetings cards and photos out with us then.
12 September 2020
The school now has its own hens and goats thanks to one of out sponsors. The aim is to breed them thus providing an income for the school.
31 August 2020
Our student teacher Mamu Njie gave birth to a lovely baby girl. Nevertheless, Mamu will be back in the classroom as soon as the school reopens.
5 June 2020
The Principals of Gambian schools have proposed that schools will start to reopen. The proposal is that reopening will be staggered starting with Grade 9 from June 15 and and July 13 for Grade 12 with special priority given to examination classes. No Government announcement as yet, although they have announced mosques, churches and markets will reopen from next Monday.
For info: there have only been 26 cases of C19, with just 1 death. Only 4 still test positive, 3 of whom are in hospital and 1 in quarantine.
Update: sadly this didn’t happen as there was an escalation in the number of cases and the number of deaths following repatriation flights from Europe and for Gambian citizens who were domicile in Europe and US but found themselves destitute due to the pandemic. Instead, more severe restrictions on movement took place.
3 June 2020
For the last few weeks the trustees and the head, Ismaila Sama, have been disussing ways that children who are due to graduate in July [there are 44 of them] can receive some education while the school is closed. We have consulted with the National Assembly Member [equivalent to an MP in the UK] for the area and with the Ministry of Education. We have proposed that Ismaila and Nursery 4 teacher Baboucarr, prepare homework, which is collected at the school gate by the parent, who takes it home to the child. Then a couple of days later returns it for marking and collecting more. Of course, unlike elsewhere, most of Africa does not have the technology to do online education, although lessons have been delivered to older children via TV and radio. We are hoping the homework scheme will start from Monday 8 June.
We have also looked at how the school can safely be opened when the State of Emergency allows. We have proposed that just the 44 child due to graduate come into school in 2 groups on separate days. The proposal is that the upstairs community room is set up with 23 desks – there is enough space for the desks to be placed at 2 meters distance. All safety precations adhered to of course. We have consulted with the Ministry of Education to ask that Nursery Schools are included in the proposals for reopening schools.
2 June 2020
As everyone in the world is aware, things have been very difficult since March due to the pandemic. The Gambian government acted very quickly and shut the airport and other borders, announced a State of Emeregency forbidding public gatherings and closing all educational establishments, restaurants, mosques and so on. So the Nursery School was closed and all staff except secirity and Alimamo, our right hamd man, were furloughed [on full pay].
Thanks to the generosity of so many of out child sponsors and other supporters, Alfrikaya has been able to provide 110 x 25k sacks of rice, 10 sacks of onions, 10 huge bottles of cooking oil and 24 nanny goats. This has been a lifeline for all 80 families of our sponsored children and other families whose breadwinner has been laid off without pay.
Goats in The Gambia tend to roam about feeding on whatever vegetation they can find and are also fed on left over leaves from garden produce – cassava, for example. Goats are mostly used for breeding and breed quickly. In about 18 months, a family could easily have 6 or 7 goats. If they need money for anything, they sell them. When they have enough, they can swop for a cow. Ultimately a food source of course. Every part used including bones for glue and skin for drums. So giving a family a goat is a huge investment for them for their economic future. By the time a child reaches 20, they could have a herd of cows from 1 goat donated by one of our sponsors. Thanks to this initiative started by Buzz and Isabell Mead and supported with enthusiasm by so many of Afrikaya’s sponsors, Afrikaya has a donated 24 goats to 24 families.
9 March 2020
Celebrating Commonwealth Day. All the children were asked to wear their tribal costumes and bring a plate of traditional food. Celebrating cutural differences and togetherness.
29 February 2020
Celebrations of the 5 year anniversary of the first students joining the school took place, attended by 2 of the trustees Geoff and Di Miles. We had a birthday cake which was divided into 200 pieces; each child had a party bag with popcorn, cornpuffs, biscuits, a small drink and sweets. Each class made a small presentation of the songs they had learned during this academic year.
As well as it being 5 years since the school opened in 2015, this year also marks the 10 year anniversary of when Afrikaya purchased the land in The Gambia on which to build the school. To mark the 10 years, we decided to do something for the environment. So on 24th February 2020, One Child One Tree was launched. Every child is planting an orange pip, and will water their pot each day. This will continue throughout the child’s time at the school. When each child graduates, they will take home their small tree to plant in the family compound. This year alone will produce 165 trees. These will not only provide fruit, but also shelter, help prevent erosion and flooding, and absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Helping the community, the country and, ultimately, the planet. In true Blue Peter style, here’s some we grew earlier.
20 December 2019
2 of the trustees, Helen and Sanjeen Payne-Kumar visited the school. During their visit, they got ready the sewing room to begin sewing classes for the local women.
They also helped the children celebrate an early Christmas with a party and small gifts for all.
They were really happy to see that the first floor of the storey building is now fully functional as a community room/school hall.
13 November 2019
School started back in September with 161 children registered, 80 boys and 81 girls. Some change over in staff. Teacher Margaret Gomez and cleaner/nanny Tuti Jarju left and were quickly replaced. Mariama Darboe, newly qualified, had been a student at the school for the 2 previous yesr and so she fitted in very quickly. Cleaner/Nanny is known as Nanding – a mandinka word for step-mother.
Dental decay is a real problem in The Gambia as sadly everyone there has developed a sweet tooth, even more so than in the Western world. For the last 5 years we have been trying to get a dental team to the school to treat and advise the staff and children. We have been negotiating with Humanity First for many months. At last, yesterday, the school was visited by a team of 12 volunteer dentists and technicians from Humanity First UK. All the children were examined and, apparently, only one little one was scared! The rest thought it was great fun. Over 200 fillings were done!! Lessons tomorrow on dental hygiene and info will be given to all the parents. Every Friday assembly from now on the teachers will remind the children of what they should be doing to look after their teeth. Everyone was exhausted by the end of the day.
As an aside, the team that did the dental work were very impressed with the school and say they will visit again.
19 July 2019
School closes for the summer holidays.
13 July 2019
Graduation Day for the children who are leaving to start Primary School in September. A magnificent day organised by the teaching staff of the school. Performances by every child and attended by all their parents and family members and many others from the local community.
Many many thanks to everyone who came along on the Afrikaya Sponsored Walk on 19 May. The weather was perfect! Nearly 60 walkers – and lots of dogs!
Donations plus refreshments – in excess of £1500 – a record! Thank you thank you! Also huge thank you to all of you who donated cakes! As always, a big success. Oh – and the rain kept off until we had just packed the last thing away and closed the car door! The universe continues to smile on Afrikaya!
Meanwhile, in The Gambia, work continues on the storey building.
Three of the 4 trustees, Geoff, Di and Helen, visit The Gambia to spend time with the staff and children at the Nursery School.
The first day of the visit to the school coincided with Commonwealth Day, The Gambia having recently returned to the Commonwealth since the dictator, Yaya Jammeh, was deposed and a democratic government elected. Commonwealth day is now celebrated in nursery and primary schools throughout The Gambia and the children are encouraged to dress in their tribal costumes and bring typical tribal food to share.
Here is the head teacher, Ismaila Sama, telling you all about the tribal costumes.
As is usual on the trustees’ March visit, the oldest children, who are leaving later this year, were taken out for a school outing. Their current curriculum subject was the environment, which includes the food they eat and grow and animals as well as the general environment. The outing included a visit to Tanji fishing village where fish, which are part of their stable diet, are landed and processed. Only 2 of the children had ever seen the sea before!
As a special treat, they also went to meet camels at the Tanji Camel Safari. Camels are not indigenous to The Gambia but are widely used as transport and work animals throughout the Sahara regions. A first for all the children and the teachers.
As always, the trustees were made very welcome and spent some of the time updating wall painting and redesigning a couple of things.
A Shamanic Drum Circle fundraising event took place in Wedhampton near Devizes. All the participants spent a lovely afternoon round a log fire, drumming and singing based on Native American tradition and journeying with facilitator Geoff Miles. Testaments from 2 of the participants “All so uplifting, fun and healing”; “a thoroughly engaging afternoon”. The next one is 28th September 2109
The Nursery School received a very special visit at the beginning of the month. Shirley Cherry, author and illustrator of ‘Musa and the Incredibirds Talent Show’ went along to give a book reading and dramatisation of the book. Accompanying her were Lady Kira Dalton and Education Director, Kemo Bah, of the Africa Oyster Trust. Thank you!
“You are to be congratulated on a wonderful school. The teachers were so enthusiastic. They all really seemed to enjoy their work and the children were a delight! I thoroughly enjoyed reading my book and I think the children enjoyed it too. We were very impressed by the facilities, playground and dining area – we even got to have some lunch.” Shirley Cherry
January has been a very busy month at the Afrikaya Nursery School. There have been a few highlights.
First, Alimamo’s team of builders and painters completed the one storey building and painted the outside. When the inside has been completed, this will provide a Community Centre for New Yundum and an Adult Education Centre. Either the rooms will be hired out or an entrance fee charged for film shows and other events, thus generating an income for the school. The aim is for the school to eventually become self-financing.
Our good friend Dave Adams of Fair Play Gambia together with Bird Guide, Lamin J Njie, delivered lots of school equipment that had been donated to Colin Casey’s appeal. To read Colin’s story, click here.
The children and the staff are delighted with all the classroom stationary. Thank you Colin and friends.
During January, the UK team have been blessed with donations from many supporters. These will all sail their way to The Gambia during February. Thank you to all of you.