CHS in The Gambia
The School has enjoyed an association with a Community School in The Gambia since 1998, following a visit to Manchester by Mr Kalokoh from The Gambia High School Geography department.
A CHS trip was organised by former Head of Geography, Mr Ian Ray. Stationery and clothes were taken and the group visited the High School and Kwenella School, near Tendaba.
Another school in the village of Dumbuto had approached the School by 2000, and in 2002 a relationship with the Badrudeen Islamic School in Soma was developed.
Since that time, charitable donations by the CHS Community have been used across a number of projects, with Sixth Form students visiting the area every two years to see how the funds are used and learn about life in the region.
At Dumbuto classrooms have been repaired and a new roofing and flooring installed. A perimeter wall was built to help keep goats out and funding was provided to set up small garden plots, providing money for goats and chickens. The success of this project meant that the Dumbuto school was on a more financially secure, as they sold the produce and funding was transferred elsewhere.
Help was also provided in the wider community in the village, providing agricultural machinery, seeds and fertiliser, establishing a skills centre to train school leavers.
At the Badrudeen Islamic School, CHS firstly provided a well as the school had no water supply. A kitchen was built so hot meals could be provided for lunch. The school expanded and CHS funded a new classroom block, a library, toilets and an office for the teachers and Head.
In the community of Soma, CHS provided a further well, built in 2008, reducing the time women had to walk to collect water, freeing them up to provide for their family.
The women set up a community cooperative - The Women’s Group, with capital provided by CHS, setting them up to start candle making and dyeing cloth. The women are given a loan from the cooperative to buy raw materials; they make either candles or clothes and sell them, using the profit to educate the girls (in poor families, boys are educated in preference to girls). The loan is then repaid and can be lent to someone else. As an extension to this, the Cheadle Hulme Community Skills Centre evolved; the community provided the land and CHS donations funded the construction of the building. The Women’s Group has made a huge difference to the community.
Following on from the biannual trips, in 2014 staff and students laid the foundation stones for Cheadle Hulme School Soma.
As of 2019, Cheadle Hulme School Soma has 89 students on roll, 42 girls and 47 boys. The guaranteed “one meal a day” feeding programme, privately funded by Ian Ray, has meant an increase of 48% in enrolment. The children are aged 3-5 and approximately 63% come from very poor homes and will get their main meal of the day from the school.
The school now has five classrooms, an office, kitchen, three toilets and a tap as a direct result of the funding from CHS.
In December, 30 students and 4 staff from CHS travelled to The Gambia for 7 days to visit a selection of local schools, including CHS Soma.
As well as spending time at CHS Soma, students also visited The Gambian High School, Samsaang Technical School, Dumbutu Lower Basic School, Tendaba Primary School, Tendaba Nursery School, two Rural Christian and Islamic Schools and Barundeen Islamic School.
Group Leader, Miss Charlotte Parker, said:“In Dumbutu and also at the Barundeen Islamic School, we saw some of the projects that we had contributed to over the years, for example, the classrooms, toilet blocks and the walls round the schools. The classrooms, staff accommodation and wells are vital to the existence of the school, however so many of them are now out of date or have fallen into disrepair. It needs to be a project that is sustained to make a long lasting difference to the local community.
Seeing CHS Soma was a special moment in the trip. We had been sent photos of the progress of the building that CHS students had fundraised for and it was an honour to open the new classrooms and unveil the names of the buildings. We spent most of the day with the staff and students, meeting the teachers and finding out what the education system was like, what resources they needed and how else we could help.
The students spent time meeting the local children, being shown parts of the village and playing the hotly contested Manchester vs The Gambia football match (we lost 4-2 despite one of the teachers being substituted on at half time to try and claw it back).
CHS Soma is an EDC school which means that is focuses on early years education but for us to make the greatest impact we need to support the education of Gambian children across the age range. Some schools like CHS Soma, have started feeding programmes that have helped to increase the number of students accessing education and if they are able to keep them regularly coming to school by age 8 they are more likely to continue their education throughout their childhood years.
We want to make a difference to schools out there - we took gifts of iPads and laptops, some of which TCBC funded, but they also need the basics of stationary, paper and exercise books. In future we plan to spend more time in the schools we are supporting and want to build on the links both the staff and students have made with our colleagues in The Gambia.”
Since returning from the trip the staff and students are continuing to raise awareness of the needs of the schools and people they met in The Gambia.
The trip itself is exactly why experiential education is so important for young people; it gives them opportunities to understand the wider global community and to ignite a passion for altruistic work that will last a lifetime.
To find out more about the students' experinces, read the Gambia Trip diary on the Be Extraordinary blog.