Beacon in the Gambia

For twenty five years Students from Beacon Academy have been visiting villages in the Gambia. The Gambia is one of the poorest countries in Africa and each year 50 or more  Beacon 6th form students spend one week of their time helping 10 rural communities develop and move towards self-sufficiency. Many of these villages receive…

Seventy Years in Geniere

In some ways, the Gambia is transforming quite fast at the moment. Those of us who have been lucky enough to visit for a few years have seen quite a lot alter in a short time. The road which used to look like this: Now looks more often like this: Similarly, villagers who hardly had…

Are we suffering from “white saviour” mentality?

This morning’s Guardian has an interesting article about a new video made about Prince William. The video is all about the prince’s support for anti game poaching initiatives in Tanzania. The problem according to the article is that the video ends up seeming to be all about how great the prince is and barely features…

How to decide- three contrasting villages

The last three villages we went to on our monitoring visit in February, encapsulate more than anywhere else the difficult decisions we face when we go up country. First is Kolior. I have been wanting to visit this village since I first went to the Gambia. Whenever we debate the projects, we always end up…

Three Villages- Bumari, Bambako and Nema Kuta

The real joy of the Gambian monitoring visit was finally getting to see the villages that I had heard so passionately debated over many  previous visits. In this post I will take you through three of them. In Bumari we were keen to see the work that we had funded for £2,500 on their agricultural…

Kwinella and Kaiaf, a tale of two medical centres

Kwinella, which we revisited in February on our monitoring visit is the biggest project we support and the one we show off about the most. Every year, we tell students and parents the story of how, when we first visited, twenty odd years ago, Kwinella was a village with a single hut as a medical…

A fire on route to Wurokang

This is a continuation of my series of posts summarising our experiences on the monitoring visit in February. After Dumbutu, the next village we arrived in was Wurokang. The bids that they had made back in December were perhaps the simplest to understand as they were all about water. They had asked for and been…

News from Diana

You may remember this post from a couple of months ago when I wrote up our visit to the nursery in Diana. Bakebba and the staff at the nursery had made a bid for a meter to control the power supply for their milling machine. At the time we visited in February, the milling machine…

Driving to the New Village of Dumbutu.

After visiting Sana and the Diana nursery on our monitoring visit in February, it was time to drive up country to the villages. This is a journey which has changed enormously in the time I have been travelling to the Gambia- when I first went in 2010, almost the whole of the road up country…

A Visit to Diana Nursery

After popping in on Sana and his pharmacy, our next visit on the February monitoring trip was to the Diana Nursery in Brufut. This is always the first place we visit with our students on our trips up country. If you have ever seen video of our students dancing or being greeted by huge crowds…

A Visit to Sana and his Pharmacy

Any of you who have been to Gambia since 2010 will know Sana. In that year he started with us as a student helper and ever since he has always been enormously popular with the students and a close friend to me. Over the years, we have helped him to train as a pharmacist, but…

Lucy and Meg on Geniere

We are going to take a brief break from my accounts of the monitoring visit to go back to what really matters- the students’ experience on the main trip. Over the next few months we would like to include accounts of all the villages from students who visited. First here today, we have Meg Edwards…

Day Two of the Monitoring Visit- Tourism and Taxis.

The second day of the trip proved nicely easier than expected. As I mentioned in my post for day one, a large part of the reason why we were  in the Gambia was that we needed to get the money raised by our students in December to the villages efficiently, so that they can start…