By Ali Calvert
The Mariama Mae Pre-school is celebrating. A lot has been happening in the past twelve months. The latest big event is brand new metal playground equipment, which all the children and staff love.
This wonderful playground was made possible by a very dear friend of mine Sue, who came out to visit the school with me in February this year. Unknown to me she had been raising funds from family, friends and colleagues who wanted to do some sort of project for the school. I would at this point like to thank all of those people for providing our school with one of the happiest pieces of equipment it has ever received. Thank you.
After a week of living and being in school with Fatou (our head teacher) Sue and Fatou had decided on their project. Their first port of call was to visit the Iron Man in Brikarma, a much larger town a bush taxi ride away, who would be making and supervising the installation of the playground. After talking with him Sue and Fatou now knew how much equipment could be bought, so all that was left to decide was what was needed, where it would be placed in the playground and to arrange transport, cement and labour and to make sure everything was safely installed.
All of this came to a little over Sue’s budget but I had been given some money from my local charity shop here in Porthleven which made it possible to complete the playground. Thank you Winston.
Unfortunately our visit was over before the playground equipment had arrived so we had to wait patiently to receive photographs of the finished project. My heart sang when I saw the photographs. The school now has a fantastic outside play area which is more than we could have dreamed of. Thank you.
You will see by the pictures that the school walls are gradually being brightly decorated and this is thanks to Jo and Butch who have directed some of their youth project teams to the Mariama Mae School, and therefore we would also like to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped with this.
The school, both inside and outside, is looking good. It was completely repainted this year and has been maintained to a high standard, which is important if we want to be taken seriously as a school looking to make changed in pre-school education and to show that every penny is spent on providing as good a school as possible.
I am very proud of the Mariama Mae School and want to say thank you to everyone connected to it especially to all those who donate monthly, because without your support our school would not exist. You really are the foundations of the school and always have been. Your commitment is what pays wages, maintains the building, buys essential equipment and enables Fatou and her staff to have the security of knowing they have a school to teach in. Thank you for all your help.
As I said Sue spent time in school with us which was lovely but also very useful to me and helpful to see the school through fresh eyes. What I was reminded of by Sue was how calm our school is and how able the children are to complete tasks set for them and how automatically they help each other and explain things to each other. Something which sounds fundamental, but is not always found in Gambian Pre-schools. Here, in our school, children are actively given responsibility and allowed space to discuss their own learning. I know we are doing a good job and the children that pass through the Mariama Mae School are getting a comprehensive and full education.
My next concert is to make sure that all the staff continue to be inspired and that they have the time and energy put into their development.
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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.