After a day of exploring, we made our first visit to the Darul Arkam School on Monday. One of the most memorable parts of the entire trip was seeing the children lining the road to the school, holding signs declaring their gratitude for out visit and hearing Mr Nije speak about the enormous impact we were going to make on not only the school itself, but also the community surrounding it.
For the next two days, we combined forces with the eager children from the Darul Arkam School to concrete the floors of the new classrooms, continue clearing the rest of the site and, in our breaks, teach each other songs and dances from our different backgrounds. We also visited the Greater Tomorrows Football Academy where we played our ritual game, nail-bitingly and surprisingly won by The Grange, and donated a suitcase full of sports items that will enable more boys to continue enjoying playing football.
On Thursday, we loaded up the Land Rovers with bags of clothes, medical supplies and toys for children, and bags of rice donated by the team, and set off to visit compounds further inland in Gambia. Seeing the difference that items that we take for granted can make was overwhelming and clearly highlighted the importance of our donations to the communities.
Our final full day in Gambia was spent back at the school, finishing off the floors of the classrooms and making the most of our time with the children. Mrs Sunners also taught some of the teachers and older students some vital First Aid that will hopefully make a difference in the school community. On Saturday morning, we made our final trip to the school where we heard speeches from both the Grange and Darul Arkam, staff and students, and said our tearful goodbyes to the friends we had made. We then travelled to Banjul Airport and boarded our flight home. Many of us reflected on our time in the Gambia, agreeing that it is an experience we will forever cherish, and also aired our disgust at coming home to a staggering -4°C!
By Heather Lanz – 12HC