PAGEANT - "Education is the future"

SHM Nursery School - Water Tower Story


Sheik Hatab Memorial Nursery School (known for short as SHM Nursery) is the only nursery school to offer both Western and Islamic tuition in the village of Gunjur [map] in the south of The Gambia.

The school is open to children from the surrounding community aged between 3 and 6 and is operated by a charitable organization 'Success Foundation of Gunjur'. It was designed for 100 students, with equal numbers of boys and girls, four qualified teachers and a teaching assistant. It originally consisted of a single building with two classrooms, a hall, an office, a store, three toilets, and a shower, and has been extended over several years, with two further classrooms and a kitchen, to enable it to cater for 160-180 children.

Sheik Hatab Memorial Nursery School
Sheik Hatab Memorial Nursery School

Water Tower Collapse

In May 2012, the schools founder, Ahmed Manjang, told us that the water tower which supplied the school had collapsed. His email is shown below:

"We had an unfortunate accident at the nursery last Wednesday, May 2nd. Without warning the concrete tower holding the 2500L overhead water tank at the nursery gave way which sent the tank crashing down to the ground. Fortunately only the school caretaker was at the school play area at the time and thank God there was no injuries. Initial investigation showed that the concrete work was not properly done and even though the contractors admitted that the work was not up to standard, it is already proving difficult to get anything from them. Meanwhile we temporarily close the school because the sanitary condition is severally compromised while we try to gather funds for the repair work. We need at least D30,000 for rework and at the moment we have only D8,266 at the school account. We are appealing to you and your generous members for any kind of assistance."

collapsed water tower pillars
collapsed water tower pillars
collapsed water tower tank and platform
collapsed water tower tank and its wrecked platform resting precariously over the school fence

The photo on the left shows the pillars which supported the tank, and that above shows the tank and its wrecked platform resting precariously over the school fence.

The only injuries were to some banana plants, but it could have been a disaster if children had been in the area when the collapse occurred. However, without a water supply, the school had to close, and could not re-open until the water supply was restored.

Fundraising for the Water Tower

Pageant launched an urgent appeal for donations to replace the tank, and sent 525 (approx D25,000), so work could start. The appeal was so successful that we adjusted the target to 655, to cover all the costs of replacing the water tower. In fact the total raised was over 970, so after paying for the replacement of the tank, 315 was available for the next project at SHM. [see later] Some of the notable fundraising efforts are detailed below:

Sandcross School, Reigate

A group of children at Sandcross Primary School in Reigate baked around 400 cakes, and sold them to raise 194.05 for the SHM water tank appeal.

Whipton Barton Junior School, Exeter

Amy Hardinge, a teacher at Whipton Barton Junior School in Exeter emailed us to say that her year six class (6He) were desperate to help with the water tank appeal. So on Friday 1 June, during the school's Diamond Jubilee picnic, her class split into groups to run stalls and raise as much money as they could. They designed a slide show to publicise the event in assemblies at both the infant and the junior schools, and produced posters for display around the school and fliers to send home. The total raised was an impressive 410

The top fundraisings stalls were:
  • Cake Sale
  • Face/nail painting
  • Sponging the teachers
  • Guess the teddy
  • Toy sale
  • Fish drop
and other stalls did really well too:
  • Basketball shoot out
  • Penalty shoot out
  • Guess the teacher (from their baby photos)
  • Ice poles
  • 3 Can alley

Horsham Rotary Club

Our friends at Horsham Rotary Club have a long record of helping Pageant, and on this occasion gave us a donation of 250 towards the Water Tower Appeal. This was received after the appeal reached its target, so with their permission, it will be carried over to our new appeal for a solar powered water pump.

As well as these major fundraising efforts, around 115 was raised from small online donations. Our grateful thanks to all who helped.

New Water Tower Installed

The new steel water tower framework was delivered to SHM on 27th May 2012. Ahmed emailed us to say:

"I travelled to Gunjur last week to monitor the repair work of the water supply to the school. It happened that I was in Basse when the money for repair work arrived and I was just too eager to get work going so I can get these kids back to school as soon as possible. The tank was delivered on Monday by which time I already left Gunjur for Basse. The stand was already erected since yesterday and by the end of the week water supply to the school should be restored. Once again thank you very much for your effort without which this problem might not be solved at all."

water tower framework before installation
water tower framework before installation
new tank installed on the tower
new tank installed on the tower

Ahmed emailed us again to say that the new tank had now been successfully installed. The steel frame was set into the ground, with the legs buried in 1 metre of concrete, so it is much stronger that the old tank it replaced.

"I am absolutely delighted to tell you the tank stand was mounted and the water tank was installed last Friday (1 June) and water supply to the school is back to normal.... We are very confident this one will last for very long time. Once again thank you so much for keeping hopes and aspiration of so many kids alive, we just cannot thank you and your organisation enough for your continuous support.... It has been a nightmarish three weeks for me but your timely intervention I can breathe a sigh of relief. On behalf of everybody concerned I am very grateful."

Solar Powered Pump

In common with most rural schools in The Gambia, SHM Nursery School gets its water from a borehole. The water was raised from the borehole using an electric pump, powered by a diesel generator. Both were showing signs of their age, and in particular, the generator suffered frequent mechanical problems. Even before the water tower collapsed, Ahmed had been investigating a replacement and gave us an estimate of the cost. Just replacing the diesel generator could cost 15,000 Dalasis (about 320). However, this would need regular refuelling. There are often fuel shortages in The Gambia lasting several weeks and fuel costs are constantly rising. Ahmed therefore proposed a solution using a solar powered pump. Though initially more expensive, this has almost zero running costs and will be environmentally friendly. Pageant decided to use 315 left over from the water tank appeal to make a flying start on a new appeal for this solar powered pump system, with a fundraising target of 1025.

The solar powered pump system consists of a bank of solar cells, storage batteries, and a new electric pump to go in the borehole. As before the pump fills the storage tank, so facilities, such as toilets, which require water, will be fed by gravity. SHM Nursery is unusual in having modern flush toilets, which the old water supply system was just able to cope with. The new solar powered system has a higher capacity, and Ahmed hopes to supply the nearby local community with clean drinking water.

Pageant's appeal raised just 622. However, Gavin Sandison requested that we supply the shortfall of 390 from his half-marathon sponsorship, so we were able to send Ahmed all the money needed to purchase and install the pump system. [See Gavin's Page] A big thank-you to everyone who helped - particularly to Gavin and his sponsors.

bank of solar cells
bank of solar cells
battery and inverter supplying AC to the pump
battery and inverter supplying AC to the pump

The new pump system has been installed and works extremely well. Ahmed emailed us to say: "I am happy to tell you that the money you sent for the solar project was received and within three days the materials were bought and installed on the 24th November 2012." He continues: "I acknowledge you and PAGEANT for your latest show of support for our little community school. The solar system besides being greener will save us a lot from daily petrol purchase and high cost of repair for our old generator."

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