A question I’ve often been asked: “What made you go back to Gambia for a second time?” A simple answer is, I loved it so much the first time I knew I would benefit from it again greatly.
The Gambia Partnership Charity started in 2004 when two Stornoway brothers travelled to the country on holiday. Although they discovered a beautiful country and culture there was also a different side.
Hidden away from the tourist area there was devastating poverty. Despite this the people were warmly welcoming and open. From that trip the men made it their mission to make a difference to those people’s lives.
Since then there has been ongoing trips with objectives to help improve the lives of the people.
The main aim of the Gambia Partnership is to share the Gospel and provide practical, educational and construction work. Recently there have been two groups visiting the country each year, a total of 25 visited this November.
The country itself lies on the West of Africa and is the smallest country on the mainland with 1,882,450 people.
The Gambia’s economy is dominated by fishing, farming and especially tourism. After 2008, about a third of the population lived below the poverty line, which is equivalent to £1.00 per day.
The Gambia is predominantly 90% Muslim religion with Christian community a mere 8%. Although contrary to belief, it can be found that there is peace between the two religions which is clearly seen when visiting.
In recent years, the charity has focussed their efforts on a rural village named Kabekel.
Various projects have been introduced and become successful, such as providing every home with a water filter to cleanse the water. Also, the charity agreed to construct a school in the village which lead to a generously donated £30,000 being raised in Lewis.
Construction began in 2014 and opened this September, with 12 full time teachers funded by the charity.
The school is named “Sgoil Criedeamh” meaning Faith school, with 130 students enrolled from pre-nursery, nursery and first 2 primary years.
The first year I visited Gambia was in November 2015, I was amongst the busyness of the school being constructed and tried to help in any way I could. I thoroughly enjoyed being up on the roof of the school painting for hours each day, despite the temperatures raising to almost 40 degrees at the heat of the day.
I was only there a brief week but I instantly fell in love with the people, culture and food! Returning the second year it was great seeing the progress and being reunited with long distance friends.
We focussed on helping the teachers and equipping them with resources and it was lovely spending time with the delightful and entertaining children.
Find out more about the work of the charity: here