PAGEANT - "Education is the future"
Pageant General Projects
Pageant's work in The Gambia covers many parts of the small country. Our projects in specific locations are listed in other pages. This page covers our work which is widespread or of general relevance:
- - Pageant's sponsorship programme, pays school fees and other essential costs for poor children.
- - Pageant is always ready to accept donations of classroom furniture, some office furniture and essential teaching equipment. We regularly pack containers with these items and ship them to The Gambia, where we supervise distribution to schools.
- - as well as sending school furniture and teaching equipment, Pageant helps to finance construction projects at Gambian schools. We also fund projects at schools in collaboration with .
- Help for Gambian Teachers - Pageant's workshops show Gambian teachers ways of teaching practical science in schools with few facilities and how to use microscopes. We have also run workshops in creative writing. [ ]
- - Our micro-loan scheme promotes small businesses in village communities and we also help in the fight against malaria.
- - Pageant members make regular visits to The Gambia to meet sponsored children, check on the progress of various projects and take part in 'fun' teaching sessions.
[Note - these links are all available from ]
- such as the 'all-terrain wheelchair', a prosthetic leg for a small boy,
goats, the innovative tippytap for hand washing and the Power Hut.
Helping Gambian Children
The Gambia has a well structured education system, ranging from nursery schools up to the university. . Nursery education is outside the state system, so all children must pay fees. Teaching is provided free in state-run Lower Basic and Upper Basic Schools, but students must pay for some books, as well as uniform, food and travel. Tuition fees are being phased out in Senior Secondary Schools but students will continue to pay all other costs. There are also many independent schools in the Gambia, often run by charities. Some of these charge tuition fees.
Every child is keen to go to school, as they realise that a good education is a way to
escape from poverty. However, many families cannot afford the cost for the
children to even start school, and many more 'drop out' due to increased
expense when the child should go on to Upper Basic School and beyond.
Pageant's main objective is to help children from poor families to
start and then continue their education.
We have therefore designed a sponsorship scheme to enable members to donate the cost of a child's education, with all the money sent directly to the sponsored child, and no deduction of administration costs. and read more about .
Help with School Equipment
Sending Goods to The Gambia
Pageant is often given donations of schools furniture, and other equipment, which becomes surplus when UK schools upgrade. We also get donations of office furniture, which can be used in senior schools, or for libraries. Electrical equipment presents particular problems, as many schools in The Gambia have no mains electricity, and are unable to use things we take for granted. For several years, Pageant shipped items in containers handled by another charity 'Friends of Gambian Schools' (FROGS). Subsequently FROGS stopped shipping containers, so Pageant now makes its own shipments as and when funds permit. However, we also try to source things in The Gambia wherever possible, as this also helps the local economy.
For a full description of how we do things see
Play Equipment for Nursery and Primary Schools
Nursery and primary schools in The Gambia often lack the basic essentials of
classroom furniture. Sue and Phil Taylor started a project
to ship donated outdoor play items to The Gambia. This first
consignment went to the Sheik Hatab Memorial Nursery (SHM) in
Gunjur. Sue and her family visited SHM to set up the play
equipment, and worked with the teachers to structure the outside
play activities so that all the children get a chance to learn
to play and co-operate. They continue to collect more equipment
for other schools, and to fundraise to cover the costs of
sending further containers.
Things they need
Pageant often gets donations of furniture and other school equipment, but some things are not so easy to obtain. As many schools do not have mains electricity, we are always on the look-out for donations of manual typewriters, sewing machines etc. For more details see this. Also if you are travelling to The Gambia, you can take small items with you - see this .
Help for Gambian Schools
The Gambian Ministry for Basic and Secondary Education builds and maintains all the state run schools, but in a small poor country, finance is strictly limited. Many schools needing additional classrooms have to look for alternative sources of funding. Furnishings and equipment is sometimes very basic or even non-existent. Pageant and several other charities help Gambian schools with construction projects and classroom equipment, making a considerable impact on the quality of the learning experience.
Helping school construction projects
Pageant has provided financial help for new school buildings and for completion of unfinished projects where funds have run out.
Classrooms: We have helped with classroom construction at, , , (and its predecessor JTT), , , , , , and
Kitchens: School kitchens sometimes provide poor children with their only substantial meal of the day. Pageant has helped with new or refurbished kitchens at, , , , , and .
Toilets: We have also helped with new or refurbished toilets for schools at, , , , Humanity Nursery, and .
Other building work: Many of the construction projects have included ancillary structures such as offices, staff rooms and storerooms. Also schools in remote locations often provide accommodation for staff. Pageant helpedand to build staff quarters. School grounds are often open and unprotected, allowing hungry animals to feast on the school vegetable gardens. Pageant has helped schools build perimeter walls at , , , and .
Helping Peace Corps Volunteers
The Peace Corps is a volunteer programme run and funded by the United States government, and there are Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) helping with teaching in many Gambian schools. The Peace Corps does not provide finance for their volunteers to use on school projects, so in a number of cases Pageant has helped with funding for such projects. Several projects have been successfully completed, and we hope that we can co-operate with the Peace Corps again as similar opportunities arise. For more about how Pageant collaborates with Peace Corps Volunteers and the schools they work in, please have a look at.
Gambian Schools Index
For further information about all the schools and educational institutes which Pageant is associated with in The Gambia, please look at our.
Helping Gambian Communities
Pageant's close links with schools and village communities mean that we are constantly aware of issues which affect children's education. These are some instances where we provide help to Gambian communities.
As well as their household work, Gambian women traditionally look after vegetable gardens and make craft products such as tie-dyed fabrics. Pageant promotesin a number of villages; funding literacy and numeracy classes, providing craft tools and helping women to market their craft products. Some of these groups are associated with Pageant loan schemes, and in one case this evolved into the successful .
Pageant loans are locally run micro-finance schemes, which lend small amounts of money to enable people to start up small businesses.
The first Pageant Loan Schemes were launched in the neighbouring villages of Bakalarr and Sika in 2005 and 2006. These have been followed by schemes in Gunjur, Jambanjelly, Siffoe, Brikama and Abuko.
Thehas further details about these schemes, with reports on their progress.
The Artemisia Project
Malaria is a constant hazard in The Gambia, and villagers cannot afford the drugs and treatments routinely used by visitors from developed countries.
A relatively inexpensive treatment has been in use in China for
centuries. This is a tea made from the leaves of Artemisia annua.
Unfortunately, this plant does not grow well in hot climates, but recently
a variety, called 'Anamed', has been developed which is more suited to
This has been trialled at the Gambian National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), and the leaves are already in use for malaria treatment in some surrounding villages. Growing the plants from seed is a bit tricky, so Pageant provided funds for NARI to grow plants, to distribute them to several villages, and then to train villagers in cultivation and further propagation by cuttings.
Following on from this, Pageant appointed Lamin Njie as 'Artemisia Ambassador'. He did some training at NARI, after which it was hoped that he would be touring The Gambia providing training and support to help village communities cultivate, harvest and use Artemisia in treating malaria. This did not materialise, however, so we now support Artemisia 'plantations' in some village gardens when the opportunity arises. 
Many Pageant members visit The Gambia regularly in the winter months, between October and April. Ian and Pippa usually go out in October/November (start of school year visits) and then again in February (includes Science workshop team time!). Pippa often goes out again during the Easter school holidays with Tina and Frances (Nursery & Primary school workshops).
A major task is to visit as many sponsored children as possible, checking on their progress at school and handing over sponsorship money. They also talk to teachers at these schools to decide which other students should go on our list of those requiring sponsorship. The visits are a chance to liaise with our agents in The Gambia and check on the progress of Pageant funded projects. We try to report these visits in detail, as it gives our friends in The Gambia the opportunity to see themselves on this website. Sometimes however, Pippa and Ian are just too busy to write up accounts of their visits, particularly when these are combined with workshops.
The following news pages give details of some of these visits:
Pippa's sister Tina brought hands-on art to the children of Kings Kid Academy,
where they created a jungle with flowers and animals. She then went on to KMJ Nursery School,
where they made an ocean with fishes and other sea-creatures.
Frances, Lauren, Rosie and Sarah, gave art and other 'fun lessons' in two schools, and visited three other schools to meet sponsored children. Frances kept us up-to-date on our blog, which you can read on this page of.
Pippa, Tina and Frances visited a number of schools, giving art lessons at three nursery schools. Once again Frances posted details on our blog, which you can read on this page of.
Lauren and Dan were studying to be teachers at the University of Chichester. As part of their Education Degree Course, they taught in three Gambian schools. Their trip was recorded on our blog, which you can read on this page of.
Visitors from The Gambia
Pageant thinks that it is beneficial for some of the people we rely on in The Gambia
to get to know how things happen at this end. In recent years, however,
with increasing immigration problems, these visits are almost impossible to arrange.
In 2004, Pageant's agent at the time, Kemo, spent about 6 weeks visiting schools and other locations in the UK.
In 2005, Bakary Gitteh, the headmaster of Bakalarr School visited the UK. See the reports on his visit .
Help for disabled children
Thewas set up in 2001 as a Registered Gambian Charity, but to the best of our knowledge they are no longer in operation. They produced wheelchairs specially designed for use on unmade roads in developing countries. Their workshop provided Sarjo Badjie, one of Pageant's sponsored students, with one of these. [ ] They also operate a computer training centre for people with a physical handicap. The initial batch of computers was provided by Pageant member Keith Farrington in 2004-5.
Six year old Modou Lamin was born with his right leg permanently bent at the knee. Initially he got about on his knees, but then learnt to walk with crutches. Orthopaedic surgeon Douglas Sammon decided that the best way to help Modou Lamin was to amputate his deformed leg at the knee and fit a prosthetic leg. The operation has been successfully carried out, and Modou Lamin is making an excellent recovery. Pageant has launched an appeal to pay for his new leg, so that Modou Lamin can get on with living a normal life. 
The Goats Appeal
In February 2011, Pippa heard about a very poor Gambian family who had all of their seven goats stolen. This was a terrible blow, as the goats were the only things of value that they possessed. An adult goat costs about £40 - £48, so Pippa organised a fundraising appeal to replace the goats.
The success of the appeal was overwhelming - in 5 weeks we reached nearly £810 - enough to replace all seven goats, provide a lockable shelter where they will now be secure at night and to buy and donate some goats (and maybe shelters) to two other deserving families. Our grateful thanks to all who contributed to this amazing total, especially staff at ERA Technology, and members of St John's Church, Broadbridge Heath. The amazing success of this appeal prompted us to add goats to our list of. The photo shows Baba with two of his family's new goats
The tippytap is a simple low cost solution to hand washing in places without a piped water supply. It is a simple device that provides a stream of water when a piece of wood is pressed by the foot. There is no need to use your hands, so cross contamination is avoided.
It is well known that washing with water alone is much less effective than using soap, so the tippytap system includes soap as well. It is easily constructed using recycled or scavenged materials, and is so simple that even children can build it.
Pageant is encouraging schools and communities without access to piped water to install tippytaps, promoting hand washing and so helping to control the spread of diseases.
The Pageant Power Hut
Many villages in The Gambia have no mains electricity, so it is very difficult for families to provide lighting and recharge mobile phones. The cost of the solar panels and associated equipment is beyond the means of most people. Pageant member Andrew Williams designed the Pageant Power Hut as an integrated system, providing rechargeable portable lights so village children could do their homework after dark, as well as charging mobile devices.