PAGEANT - "Education is the future"
Sinchu Baliya LBS & Resource Centre
Sinchu Baliya Lower Basic School is located in a densely populated area of the Western Region about 10 miles from Banjul.  It is one of the largest primary schools in The Gambia. Pageant helped to finance the building and equiping of a Resource Centre for teaching and for use by the school's Science Club.
Building the Resource Centre - November 2004
Construction of the Resource Centre at Sinchu Baliya continues. The initial funding was provided by the staff at CEA, where Pageant member Linda Murgatroyd ran a very successful raffle the previous Christmas. Pageant then received the wonderful total of £1,125.00 from Chris Hyde and his friends - almost all the money pledged for theirOur grateful thanks go to those who took part in the Challenge on Pageant's behalf - Simon Kerr, Penelope Gow, John Graham and of course Chris himself. Some of this money was used for the construction of the Resource Centre, and the reset to complete unfinished classrooms at .
Science Club and Microscopy Competition
Our visit to Sinchu Baliya began with a presentation by the now flourishing Science Club. Several individual children gave us short, spoken passages on each of the five senses and then a group sang us a delightful song on the same subject. We presented prizes and certificates for the 'Fascinated by Birds' competition that had been run in co-operation with Schools Across the World (SAW) earlier in the year. None of the Gambian children who entered had won the SAW prizes, but we thought that their standard was worthy of Pageant awards. As well as the children's individual prizes we presented a pair of binoculars to Omar Janneh, the Science Club Co-ordinator, for use by the whole club. These were to be called the 'Malick Barry' binoculars in recognition of the exceptional entry by the winner of the younger age group (12 and under).
Many of the children had completed competition entries for drawing leaves, termites and parts of a cockroach as seen through their microscopes. We brought these home with us for judging at our leisure, as there were too many of them to be assessed properly while we were at the school. Certificates and prizes for the winners will be presented in February - one of the winning entries is shown above.
Resource Centre Update February 2005
"We visited Sinchu Baliya on our last full day in The Gambia, mainly because Linda had only arrived in The Gambia during our last weekend. We wanted her to be with us to see how work on the Resource Centre was coming along, as a large part of the expenditure to date had been raised by her colleagues at Cambridge Education. We were welcomed by lines of clapping and singing children and greeted by Mr Cham, the Headmaster, and several members of his staff. On being shown round the school, we found that the building had progressed a little since our visit in October - the block-work had been completed - but there was still no sign of any roofing, nor doors, windows or flooring.
Having expressed our disappointment at the unfinished state of the building, we then had lengthy discussions with Mr Cham and some of his staff about the cost of the work that needed doing to complete the structure. We eventually decided to employ a different sub-contractor (Jola, a personal recommendation to Linda) to organise the rest of the building work and Kemo is going to keep a much closer watch on how things are progressing. We also stressed how we wished the community to become more involved in the work, in a similar manner to projects carried out in the up-country village schools. This has obviously been noted, as we have just received some photographs of the children and staff levelling the floors in preparation for the laying of the concrete.
We have also heard from Jola and Kemo that the roof trusses, doors and windows have all been made and that Kemo was going to inspect the work before paying further funds for concrete (floors and plastering) and corrugate (roof). Linda is due to go out to The Gambia again before long (on business this time) and hopes to see a big improvement in the Resource Centre at her next visit.
Resource Centre Update April 2005
The Resource Centre at Sinchu Baliya now has its roof on, and plastering of the walls in in progress.
Presentation of Prizes and Seeds for the Garden
In November 2005, Pageant Visited Sinchu Baliya Lower Basic School and were shown round the newly decorated and furnished Resource Centre. Omar Janneh, the Science Co-ordinator of the school, had undertaken the work with his Scout troop during the summer holidays and the new building looked really splendid. We were really pleased with the Resource Centre. The only things needed now are some shelves to take the many books that have been donated to the school. At present the books are stacked in piles on the floor, around the walls of the room.
Pippa presented prizes to last year's Grade 3 children who had done some drawings of things seen under their microscope and introduced the children and teachers to the new Trekker microscope, which proved to be very popular.
Seeds for the school vegetable gardens
A large pack of different vegetable seeds, collected at Harvest Festival in UK, was presented to the school and we visited the school gardens, which had been laid out and prepared for sowing We explained that money had been collected in addition to the seeds and that each school / village garden was to have 2,000 dalasis (just over £40) to spend on tools. The staff in charge of the gardens promised to let us have a prioritised list of tools as soon as they had discussed the matter.
Visit by Plymouth-Banjul Team Ibrakeforcake
The Plymouth-Dakar Challenge was conceived in 2003 by Devon businessman Drew Heavey. The idea was to buy an old car for no more than £100, and then drive it from the UK to Banjul - a total distance of about 3700 miles. As well as raising funds by sponsorship, the cars were sold at the end and all proceeds given to local good causes. The challenge went from strength to strength with over 200 cars in the 2006 and 2007 challenges.
Team Ibrakeforcake consisted of Chris Lawler and Dave Branfield driving an Isuzu Trooper. They were accompanied throughout their trip by Ed the Croc, a 71cm fluffy green crocodile, who appears in one of the photos below. They successfully completed the challenge, raising £4000 for Sinchu Baliya LBS. They visited the school, accompanied by Pageant's agents Kemo and Alimatou, and were warmly welcomed by the staff and children.