Having just left Gambia, as the rainy season and Ramadan are fast approaching, I thought it would be a good time to briefly reflect on major events and progress made during the past 8 months.
Firstly, the nursery schools all continue to prosper and are all fully enrolled with 30 children per class. It is very rewarding to see the AOT making a major contribution to educating 360 children!
Stepping Stones children are enjoying their new football goal post/climbing frames funded by a generous donation from Rob Bagnall raised by completing the Great North Run. Grade 3 teacher Pa is about to finish his studies at Brikama College funded by AOT. I am delighted to report that he has been top of the class throoughout his full 3 year Early Childhood Development Course.
I was very honoured to attend the graduation ceremoney at Independence Square in Banjul with the three teachers who competed their ECD studies last year. Taku and Bintu from Mariama Mae and Fatou Sonko from Jappineh all looked splendid in their gowns and mortar boards. (see photo)
Mariama Mae students have enjoyed free school lunches these past few months funded by a generous vistor and from September onwards, will benefit from a regular porridge breakfast – thanks to donations raised by Ali Calvert and friends. Their playground is looking very nice with some stunning new murals painted on the outside walls by recent visitors from Gunjur Project.
A group of children from HENS (Hilary Emery Nursery School) took part in the national marching day at Indepedence Stadium. It was clear from the songs they sang that they take great pride in their school. Janko and Natoma have nearly completed their ECD training course. Bintu made a tiny uniform for her young daughter (photo) who has “attended” school from a very young age.
Jappineh Nursery has a new the school library which was largely funded by the Jappineh Doll Studio and supplied with numerous books by AOT and a generous donation from Cheryl Lowman.
All the Lower Basic Head Teachers all report that “our” children have a BIG head start in life.
Jappineh Health Centre continues to make excellent progress. There are now two SRNs, one of whom is also a qualified midwife, and the number of patients continues to rise steadily. In an area which is so far from any other medical facility, being able to provide skilled care, constant supply of good quality essential drugs, and laboratory and ambulance services undoubtedly saves many lives.
The community are very grateful for the ongoing financial support from KASTIA foundation.
Following a visit by Mel and Dee Bixley (who donated the funds for the ambulance) we have been able to make a major stride in improving mental health facilities in the provinces. Dee Bixley spent much of her career working at The Priory and after her visit to the Traditional Healing Facillity in Jappineh, she wanted to improve the plight of the many menatally ill patients housed there. The Bixley's generosity has enabled us to fund a training course in psychiatric nursing, facilitate regular monthly visits from the national outreach team from Banjul and to supply many essential drugs.
We continue to donate medical supplies to the Gregs Clinic at Gunjur School where Mr Saine and his Red Cross Volunteers provide treatment for emergencies and minor illness for 1,900 students.
Recently, we have partnered with the Kartong Bird Observatory and Gunjur Project to fund a new Health Centre in Kajabang. This exciting new project links our assistance to health care of their community to an on going commitment to protect the environment at the Bolong Fenyo Reserve.
In line with our stated objectives, we are making quite an impact in both health and education!
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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.