PAGEANT - "Education is the future"
Saloum Nursery School - Nemakunku
In the spring of 2005, Pageant started to provide help to a little nursery school, Saloum Nursery, in the village of Nemakunku. This school was in a poor state of repair. The toilets were unusable, and the children apparently just had to relieve themselves in a corner of the school yard. A new building was under construction, but progress was very slow, as it was being entirely funded from school fees, which were just 60-70 pence per term for each child.
The photos above show the state of the school when Pageant first visited. In the last photo the children are in their unfinished classroom, with a rubble floor. These conditions are obviously very difficult for them and we hoped that the funds sent by Pageant would speed things up a bit. Pageant told the school that if they did well with this first contribution, then further help would be provided.
Updates May & June 2005 - refurbished classrooms
Update 19 October 2005 - £1000 for Saloum Nursery
In the Plymouth-Banjul Challenge, people attempt to drive their cars from the UK to The Gambia. The rules limit the purchase price of the vehicles, there is no official back-up, and at the end of the challenge, the cars are auctioned for the benefit of local good causes. Nick Capron and Tim Lovatt from Cumbria, are taking part in the 2006 Challenge. They decided to raise money for Pageant, and in particular for the Saloum Nursery. Their team was called Shap Ahoy. You can find out more on Pageant's. They planned to visit Saloum Nursery on completing the Challenge.
By October Nick and Tim's fundraising was going great guns, and they made a very generous donation of £1000 to Pageant, to get work started on the Saloum Nursery toilet block. It was arranged that Pageant members Vic & Jackie Edwards would present a cheque to the Saloum Headmistress during their visit.
Update 1 November 2005 - Cheque presented at Saloum Nursery
The pictures below show Vic & Jackie Edwards presenting a 'giant' cheque for £1000 to the Saloum Headmistress.
Update 15 December 2005 - Pippa's visit Nov 2005
During Pippa's recent trip to The Gambia she visited Saloum Nursery School and was delighted to see that work on the toilet block was under way. A large hole had been dug for the below surface chambers and there are a considerable number of blocks were all ready made for the below-ground structure to be built. Pippa took with her a further £500 on behalf of Shap Ahoy, so by the time Nick and Tim arrive the above-ground walls should be rising!
As ever, the children were delightful and the classrooms are looking so much better now with their new floors and the furniture from our recent container-load.
We hope that Nick & Tim have a wonderful trip and that they enjoy meeting everyone at Saloum.
Update 7 January 2006 - Toilets under construction
Update - Opening of Toilet Block - Monday 13 February 2006
Ian & Pippa set off from the Atlantic Hotel to visit Saloum Nursery school, together with Helen (whose family sponsors Fatou), and Lorna, a UK teacher who was keen to visit some schools. Here is Pippa's report:
"We had arranged to meet Vic & Jackie Edwards at Saloum, as they were keen to see the changes made at the little school they had introduced us to, just a year ago.
Since then the school has benefited from fund-raising by, one of the 2005/6 Plymouth - Banjul rally teams, and at the time of our February visit they had received £1,500 of this sponsorship money.
When we had visited the school in November 2005 work had started on the toilet block that was so badly needed and good progress had been made by the time the Shap Ahoy team arrived in January 2006. Now we were going to be able to officially open it - but first we met the children and teachers in class and then joined them in some singing and dancing in the playground. Ring-a-ring-a-roses went down very well!
Then, the children were all lined up at the side of the school in the shade, we were invited to join them and - there it was! A fully finished toilet block with 3 cubicles - one girls, one boys and one teachers - with mosaic tiled floors and solid, painted doors. It looked really splendid and Mariama, the head teacher, was obviously very pleased and proud to show it to us. Jackie started the proceedings by opening the girls' cubicle, Vic did the honours for the boys and Lorna, rather appropriately we thought, opened the cubicle for the teachers. Lots of applause from children, parents, teachers and several interested onlookers who happened to be passing - and from us too.
After that we returned to the classrooms where Vic and Jackie put up several posters that had been donated by Gallions Mount Primary School in Plumstead and other local donors, as well as distributing some excellent nursery school books and games. The height charts were particularly popular - the children took this very seriously and stood like solemn little statues to be measured.
Before leaving Saloum we discussed the next project with Mariama, as we had brought her a further £1,700 of sponsorship money from Shap Ahoy. A kitchen seemed to be the highest priority - there is no kitchen at the school at present and without one they cannot take advantage of the Government-assisted school feeding programme. So, that was decided upon, and an estimate was prepared and delivered to us by Kemo before we left for UK. Work is going ahead with this now and we are awaiting photographs of progress. Once that is finished further work will start on bringing water into the school - whether it will be piped in from the nearest water main or a new bore hole will be dug will depend on cost and time scale for the work to be done. The last sponsorship payment from Shap Ahoy will be sent out in April 2006 and will be banked until estimates for the water project have been agreed. Mariama must be careful to use this money wisely - Shap Ahoy have raised the amazing total of £4572.55 for this little school, which must be way beyond her wildest dreams. However, even this amount of money will run out eventually, so she must ensure that her priorities have been met before it does.
We look forward to seeing the school again in October 2006 - and I think Vic and Jackie will be there with us again!"
Update October 2006 - the Kitchen
Pippa, reports on her latest visit to Saloum Nursery School:
"We have just come back from yet another Gambian trip, and visited Saloum to see their progress. They are doing pretty well - the kitchen is built, with a very nice stove and a storeroom for their supplies. Not painted yet, but they always leave that till last. The water supply is not in yet - they have decided to go for a piped water upply from the mains water, rather than dig a new bore-hole, and they are now in discussions with the water supply company."
"Mariama has sent a big 'thank-you' to everyone concerned with their improvements - I say 'BIG' without exaggeration, as it is in the form of a large sheet with paintings and a message on it. The photo above shows Vic & Jackie with it in our house - we had to hang it from the gallery for the photo! "