Berkswell Church of England Primary School held their annual Harvest Service at St John the Baptist Church, Berkswell, and this year's chosen Harvest charity was The African Oyster Trust.
Alan Dick attended the church service as a representative of the Trust to receive envelopes of donations given by parents and pupils of the school. The money will go to help equip the new Hilary Emery Nursery School in Talinding.
Mrs Drew, Headteacher said: “It seemed such a fitting idea for us to support the African Oyster Trust by helping them to equip their new nursery, as we have just been lucky enough to acquire our own brand new Early Years building.”
In photograph left to right: Rev Mark Bratton (Rector St John the Baptist, Berkswell), Ellie (pupil), Mrs Tracy Drew (Headteacher), Imogen (pupil), Alan Dick (African Oyster Trust)
Report by Trust supporters Nick and Lynn Torry
We were delighted to see the report in the Gambia Daily Observer about Kira handing over thousands of dalasis’ worth of medical supplies to the Community Health Centre in Jappineh.
It brought back happy memories of our visit to the Centre in January with Kira and James when they laid the foundation stones for the compound walls of the Centre. Hundreds of newly made bricks were ready for the ceremony at which the Imam of Jappineh and James made moving speeches on this auspicious occasion.
The previous day we had made a memorable nine hour journey by boat from Bintang Bolong to Soma with Kira and James, and that morning we had travelled by taxi to Jappineh, and met the elders of the village, who had received books and mathematical equipment for the school provided by the African Oyster Trust. We had seen the excitement of the children in the Baduma Nursery School when Fanding had presented them each with a cuddly toy provided by the Trust. Later in the afternoon we were privileged to attend a meeting of the Jappineh Youth Development Committee, when they outlined their ambitious vision for the Community Health Centre.
During our fortnight’s visit to The Gambia we also visited the two other projects supported by the African Oyster Trust: the Kuntah Kinteh Nursery School in Serekunda and Mariama’s Nursery School in Gunjur.
We really enjoyed visiting the Kuntah Kinteh Nursery School. It was such a happy place. We watched the tasty, nutritious meal of fish and rice being prepared on the premises and helped serve the meal to the eager children in their classrooms – after they had first washed their hands carefully. In the clean, shady, well-equipped classrooms the children worked purposefully and quietly and were keen to share their work with us. In the playground they shared the play equipment well and were learning gradually to take turns in having a go on the slide. It was noticeable how much respect and affection Kira inspired both in the children and in the teaching and ancillary staff. The whole school is a credit to Kira and Fanding for founding it and to the Oyster Trust for funding it so well. Let’s hope the extra classroom will be ready soon.
James had prepared himself well for the visit to Gunjur School. We had walked into the village from the Footsteps Ecolodge with him the day before, when he chose some pieces of material from the local shops, which a local tailor made into suits in the local style overnight.
He then looked appropriately smart for the ceremony which took place when Kira cut the tape across the door leading into the school’s clinic, which she had recently stocked with medical supplies for the trained medical staff to use for any of the 2000 children in the school who needed them. We enjoyed visiting Mariama’s Nursery School and also some of the classrooms in the main school, particularly the one where Mariama, now ten years old, was being taught.
We had never been to The Gambia before and it turned out to be a wonderfully interesting, enjoyable visit. Everyone we met was cheerful and helpful and always made us feel welcome. For James’ sake we did manage a bit of bird-watching too, exploring our local ‘patch’ at Gunjur thoroughly and even braving the shallow waters of the Allelein River in a pirang.
Thank you James and Kira for welcoming us to your magnificent projects and long may the children who benefit from your efforts continue to prosper.
We are delighted to report that the nursery school in Talinding opened on time in September, and is already proving a huge hit with children and teachers alike.
Under its new name of the Hilary Emery Nursery School, all three classrooms are open, albeit with more equipment and furniture to follow. The playground outside is an absolutely massive improvement on what was available to the children before, giving them somewhere safe to play and condusive to learn.
A huge thanks to everyone who helped with work on this project - more details on the supporters and the background of this project can he found on the main HENS page here.
Pictured is of course our own Kira Dalton with some of the children as the new school opened.
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The news diary is written by a number of people close to the work of the African Oyster Trust, including founder James Holden, his co-directors, trustees and volunteers.