Since 1994, Gerrards Cross Methodist Church has been raising money to help poor children and their families in The Gambia, West Africa.
At first the money went to build three classrooms, an office and a store for the Nursery School at Kunkujang. After that we paid the teachers' salaries until another group took over that responsibility. This organisation paid for the drilling of a bore hole so that the school and those living in the immediate neighbourhood now have a supply of clean water. There was a measurable improvement in the childrens' ability to concentrate and learn when fresh water was given during their mid-morning break.
ClassMates continues to support the poorest families by paying the children's school fees and by employing a man to sew mosquito nets which are then dipped and supplied free of charge to children attending the Nursery School. (One in five children under the age of five dies of malaria). The dipping chemicals were generously donated by Bayer Crop Science.
In May 2009, an Exhibition of Contemporary Raised Embroidery (Stumpwork) was held over 3 days at the church. Donations raised a wonderful £500 towards our teachers' salaries.
Money from a recent generous donation has enabled us to buy five treadle sewing machines (there is no electricity in Kunkujang) and a sewing skills centre has been opened on the school premises to teach sewing. They also have an agreement to make school uniforms for local schools and profits from the sale of these will buy teaching materials for the Nursery School. To date, more than 200 uniforms have been made and sold in the village.
We hold fund-raising events and our annual Quiz Night is always well supported. We have also received income from craft items made by friends and church members.
Our 2013 Craft Fair, held on 26th October, raised over £820.
Our Quiz Nights, held in November each year, usually raise enough to pay one teacher's salary for nine or ten months.
Each teacher earns about £50 per month, depending on the exchange rate at the time.
We have five teachers, a headmaster, a cleaner and caretaker. If 100 people could give £1 a week we would raise enough to pay all the salary bills for a whole year.
There are currently just over 200 children between the ages of
3 and 7 receiving a basic education
to prepare them for entry to Junior School.