INTREPID explorers from Solihull enjoyed a life-enhancing trip to The Gambia where they have raised almost £10,000.
A group of 22 students joined the Solihull Sixth Form College’s project back in February and since then have been fundraising for the Abuko Nursery and Lower Basic School, near Banjul.
They had a target to raise £400 each and through cake sales, car boot sales, charity quizzes, sky dives and sponsored climbs, all exceeded that goal.
Their efforts culminated in a week-long trip to The Gambia in late 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.
Hannah Sharp, aged 17, from Solihull, went on the trip and said: “It really was a once in a lifetime opportunity – completely indescribable.
“To be able to see where you hard work and fundraising is going first hand and to see that it’s making such a huge difference to hundreds of people’s lives is amazing.”
Team member Hannah Knox, aged 17, also from Solihull, added: “Seeing how happy the kids were to see us and spend time with us was amazing; I was surprised by how many children there were in each classroom and the school as a whole”
Vice principal Janice Hamilton said: “This was the College’s sixth trip to The Gambia and every time is as rewarding as the last. It’s a fantastic opportunity for our students to experience another culture and help children who have not had the same life chances they have been fortunate to have. They have grown in confidence and learned valuable skills that will help them with whatever they go on to do after College, while really helping the Gambian children in the process.
“The students also worked really hard in the build-up to the trip, raising money for the nursery and I’m really proud of their efforts. All the money we have raised in the last six years, more than £50,000 in total, benefits the Abuko Nursery School and community. Since we joined the project we have completed three classrooms and on this trip we were putting the finishing touches to a further three.”
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, a monkey sanctuary, bartered at Serrakunda fish and textiles market and visited the National Assembly building in Banjul.
They also took a trip to nearby Senegal to go on a safari and saw Zebra and Rhino.