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Projects in the North Bank, including Bakalarr

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Pageant's activities in The Gambia started in 2001 at Bakalarr across the Gambia River from Banjul. Since then we have helped schools in other North Bank communities, such as Albreda, Barra Essau, Jurunku and Sika. This page covers projects in all these places reached via the Banjul to Barra ferry. Bakalarr is about 15km by road from Barra. Apart from Barra-Essau schools, the other communities are all further up-river. You can find more about all the schools and educational institutes which Pageant is associated with in The Gambia on our Interactive Gambian Schools Page

Links for this & other pages on Menu 2

Bakalarr Basic Cycle School

Bakalarr Basic Cycle School [map showing Bakalarr BCS] was the first Gambian school that Pageant began helping, starting with Ian and Pippa's first visit in 2001. Since then it has benefited from a number of Pageant projects. Five villages are served by this school. As with many Gambian villages, there are alternate spellings for Bakalarr; Bakolar or Bakalari.

Bakalarr Classroom Floors and School Kitchen

Although the classrooms at Bakalarr were largely in buildings constructed of concrete (rather than mud) blocks, the floors were just natural sandy earth. Pageant paid for concrete floors to be laid in these classrooms.
[more details and pictures of classroom floors]

The school kitchen at Bakalarr provided meals for more than 300 children a day, but was very dilapidated. During the summer of 2001 Pageant donated money for building materials, whilst parents and villagers provided most of the labour.
[more details and pictures of the kitchen]

the new kitchen is finished with rendered walls and currogated iron roof

Bakalarr Boundary Wall

When Ian and Pippa first visited Bakalarr school, there was no perimeter fence. Traffic could just drive across the school playground and the school garden was also unfenced. Children, visitors and wildlife could roam the area unchecked.

Pageant paid for the construction of a new boundary wall. [see photos of building the wall] The outside of this wall has since been transformed into an 'art gallery', with numerous paintings by a Grade 9 pupil, Ousman F Sowe (and some help from the art master). [see photos of Ousman's paintings]

Ousman has since moved on from Bakalarr school, but his interest in art is undiminished and he partly financed his education and that of his brother by selling his pictures. [more of Ousman's work] and [exhibition of his work at Horsham]

the two artists, Ousman and the art teacher, stand on either side of the painting on this panel which is the school badge

Bakalarr Vegetable Plots

Bakalarr school always had a vegetable plot, producing food for the kitchen, and also for teaching science and agriculture.

After completion of the new boundary wall, a much larger area could be cultivated, safe from marauding goats. Seeds were donated by Unwins and Suttons, and there were sufficient seeds to supply several schools including Bakau New Town and Sinchu Baliya, as well as Bakalarr school and village community.

See the following pages for more details and pictures:
preparation and planting at Bakalarr;
first harvests at Bakalarr, Bakau & Sinchu Baliya, further harvest at Bakalarr.

an impressive row of vegetables (type of cabbage?) at Bakalarr school

New Toilets at Bakalarr BCS

The old toilet had to serve the needs of both pupils and staff, and was obviously inadequate. Pageant has helped in the construction of new toilet blocks, with design assistance from WaterAid

With scarce water and no main drainage, flushing toilets are impossible, so the effluent is contained in underground chambers to prevent contamination of the groundwater. Pictures on this page, show the toilets under construction and the official opening.

the toilet block has been completed, painted white and finished with doors and a corrugated iron roof

Bakalarr Nursery Class

Mr Gitteh, headmaster of Bakalarr school decided to establish a nursery class. [see photos of the nursery class] As nursery education gets no official financial support in The Gambia, Pageant has helped with repairs, refurnishing and redecoration of the nursery classroom. Pageant also supplied them with a selection of ride-on toys donated by Bramley Nursery School in Surrey.

There are two videos clips, one showing the nursery class in February 2004 before the redecoration, and the other showing the children in October 2004, trying out their new toys.
[view these clips via the clips index page]

another picture of the children at Bakalarr nursery class

Bakalarr Staff Accommodation

In 2008, work started on constructing living quarters for school staff who had moved from other areas. The Staff Accommodation Block was officially opened by Pippa in February 2009, and by April some teachers had already taken up residence. [more about the staff accommodation block]

Miscillaneous Projects at Bakalarr BCS

Bakalarr School had a number of other projects completed. Two new classroom blocks containing seven classrooms, the headmaster's office and a storeroom were funded by the Scandinavian based charity Future In Our Hands.

Pageant helped with a Multipurpose Court for basketball, volleyball, tennis and badminton, and a concrete play area outside the nursery classroom so the children can ride their new tricycles.

A dedicated Home Economics Classroom was financed by donations in memory of a Pageant member, Joan Saward, who died in 2004. By February 2005 both the multipurpose court and the Home Science Lab had been completed.

[more about the Multi-purpose Sports Court]

[more about the Home Science Lab].

students in the new Joan Saward Home Science Lab

Re-boring the Bakalarr School Well

Bakalarr Basic Cycle School has a supply of water piped from a borehole outside the school grounds, which they use for cooking and drinking, and which also supplies the surrounding community, but they rely on a well for irrigating their vegetable gardens. However, the flow from this has decreased and the crops are suffering through lack of water. By 2013 the flow from this had decreased and the crops were suffering through lack of water. Pageant launched an appeal for funding which didn't quite reach its target, so we made up the deficit from general funds, and the well was re-bored. [more about Bakalarr's well]

Other North Bank Projects

Albreda Lower Basic School

Albreda is a historic North Bank town, about 25km upriver from the ferry terminal at Barra. It may have been established as early as 1520, and is at the centre of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pageant visited Albreda Lower Basic School in 2014, finding a roofless classroom block, a school kitchen on the point of collapse and totally inadequate toilet arrangements.

Since then a new kitchen and a new toilet block for girls have been built. Pageant member Catherine Marriott is currently fundraising to rebuild the ruined classroom block.

roofless classrooms at Albreda LBS
roofless classrooms at Albreda LBS

Barra Essau UBS

Barra Essau Upper Basic School is not far from the ferry terminal on the north bank of the Gambia River. When the school moved to its new site, Pageant paid for piped water to be laid on. We also funded shaded 'stalls' for the 'dinner ladies'. In 2010 it was used for one of Pageant's Microscopy Workshops [details of 2010 workshops]

Sarah Hayes helped this school for some time, and sponsored a pupil there. She raised funds for the school with a number of sponsored runs, including the 2009 Marine Corps 10k and the 2011 Chester Marathon. [more about Sarah and Chester Marathon]

pupils relaxing after football practice at the school

Jurunku Basic Cycle School

Jurunku is a small village in the North Bank Division of The Gambia, about 35km from the ferry terminal at Barra. It is at the centre of an agricultural area - the main crop being groundnuts (peanuts). Jurunku Basic Cycle School serves the surrounding countryside. It was a Lower Basic School until September 2014, when it started to add classes in Grades 7 to 9. [Map showing the location of Jurunku BCS]

Pageant first visited in 2004, when the buildings were in a poor condition, and it was obviously in need of help. Pageant has assisted the school and the village with many improvements supervised in the first few years by Jon Quinnel. After 2007, Jon stepped back from Jurunku and Ann and Brian Keating have been the main Pageant visitors with projects funded from Pageant general funds. [more about Jurunku BCS]

the refurbished staff room
the refurbished staff room at Jurunku BCS
crops in the garden
crops in the garden at Jurunku BCS

Sika Women's Village Market

One of the most successful and long running of the Pageant loan schemes is a village market run by the women of Sika on the North Bank. This was started with a Pageant loan in 2005, and is still doing very well. Pageant then helped with funding for a new market place. The market is in use every morning and all the local women have the opportunity to trade each day. They say it has transformed their lives.

The full story of Sika Women's Village Market

the new market sign

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