Solihull Sixth Form College TEAM GAMBIA FUNDRAISING TOPS £13,500
Adventurous students from Solihull Sixth Form College have just returned from a life-enhancing trip to The Gambia, having raised over £13,500 this year for a school in the West African country. It was the eighth occasion that the College has taken learners out to the country and more than £73,500 has been raised in that time.
A group of 25 students joined the College’s Team Gambia project back in February and since then have been fundraising for the Abuko Nursery and Lower Basic School, near Serrakunda. They had a target to raise £400 each and through cake sales, car boot sales, charity quizzes, tea parties and sponsored walks, many exceeded that goal. Their efforts culminated in a week-long trip to The Gambia in mid-November, where they got to see how the money they have been raising is being put to use.
While in The Gambia, the students spent every morning at the school and taught the children (aged 4 to 6) in small groups. Many of the activities that the students undertook with the children were active and visual, such as singing, craftwork, word and picture matching and there were lots of outdoor fun and games too.
Year 13 student Hana Mian commented: “Working in the school was my favourite experience on the trip. I have never felt that my time was being so well spent as when we were doing activities with the kids.”
Fellow learner Luke Scudamore said: “I really enjoyed the friendliness and how direct the locals were in The Gambia. I learnt patience and understanding from working with the children, as well as developing time management skills.”
Faith Lovell added: “I learnt during my fundraising to never put a limit on myself and that resilience can really take you anywhere. I also learnt adaptability, as I had to change my activities to suit younger ages and compensate for the language barrier we encountered.”
Solihull Sixth Form College joined this venture, started by Hamstead Hall School in Handsworth Wood, in 2013. The nursery school now comprises of 8 classrooms with almost 300 children benefitting from the facilities. In 2021 the nursery school was officially handed over to the Gambian Education department which ensures the sustainability of the project.
Vice Principal Janice Hamilton commented: “It was fantastic to take a new group of students out to The Gambia. We had to put the trip on hold during the pandemic, but it was great to be back and to see the school and the children thriving. I’m proud of the work we have done over the years and every trip is a rewarding experience. It’s a fantastic opportunity for our young people to experience another culture and help children who have not had the same life chances they have been fortunate to have. They develop valuable team-work and leadership skills from being part of this project and I see how they grow in confidence, whilst also really helping the children at the school.
“The students worked really hard in the build-up to the trip, raising money for the school, and I am blown away by their efforts. A huge thank you to them and to the family and friends who supported them along the way. All the money we have raised since 2013, more than £73,500 in total, directly benefits the Abuko Nursery and Lower Basic School and the wider community. This trip saw furniture purchased for three classrooms, furniture repaired for three more classrooms, a brand new printer provided, first aid and sports equipment sourced and money left to repaint the perimeter walls. The students also brought with them 20 laptops donated by our Summit Learning Trust and a mountain of donated teaching resources and reading glasses.”
As well as working at the school, there was time for the students to experience more of the local environment and culture. They visited the mangrove swamps, the Bijalo monkey sanctuary, bartered at Serrakunda fish and textiles market and visited the National Assembly building in Banjul.