This Christmas, Rosie and I will be enjoying the sun on the Gambian coast. But, despite the flashy new hotels on the beaches, The Gambia is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 160 out of 173 countries in the 2002 UNDP Human Development Report. We wanted to see if that while enjoying our beach holiday, we could also do something to help.
My Dad traveled to The Gambia when I was a kid and he told stories of the beauty of the country, but also of the poverty. He told me how children would run up to his group asking for pens and paper so they could attend school. It turns out, things haven’t changed much since.
Since Rosie and I usually travel with only our hand luggage, we decided to take advantage of the airline’s maximum baggage allowance and bring with us bags filled with school supplies to help give these kids an opportunity to learn
Tonight I spoke with Lamin Daffeh, Executive Director of the Fresh Start Foundation (FSF):
The Gambia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Therefore, most parents don’t send their children to school especially girls because they simply cannot afford to buy uniforms, books, pens, pencils etc. Such children became victims of abuse and exploitation, early marriages or child labourers.
For the past four years, the FSF is dedicated to providing educational resources to two rural schools with a total enrolment figure of over 700 children and are struggling to retain children’s attendance due to lack of resources. We believe that the education of these children will contribute to the eradication of poverty. We are a small charity but making a huge impact in the lives of disadvantage children in The Gambia. Recently, we have seen an increase of the enrolment of girls and in one of our schools, we currently have more girls than boys. Most children are keen to attend school but due to lack of educational resources they can't, so your idea of taking some pens, pencils, note books etc is welcome.
We could really use your help in filling up our suitcases. Raid your office supply cabinet, or stop by Poundland to pick up a few items while you are doing your Christmas shopping. Anything you can give would go a long way in helping a child attend school.
Below is the first suitcase we are hoping to fill. Over the next couple months I will post pictures of our progress along with 'thank yous' to those have dropped off items.
If you have something to donate, we can meet in Surbiton by day, in Clapham in the evenings or central London on the weekends. I’ll also be at various PR industry events, and CS meet-ups if it happens to be convenient.
Fresh Start Foundation is a small UK registered charity doing some amazing work in The Gambia.