I finally managed, after promising for ages, to drop into the Afrikaya school in New Yundum near the airport in the Gambia.
I’d first met Di and Geoff Miles, along with fellow trustee Helen Payne Kumar, at the Leybato hotel back in 2012 whilst visiting there with my parents, Khady and a baby Gulliver. We all became online pals and they’ve subsequently visited me in Abene a couple of times as well as attending one of my book launches in Oxford.
Afrikaya was formed as a charity in 2007 in order to build a nursery for under privileged children in the Gambia.
Geoff and Di were inspired by the late Kebba Jaina, an inspirational local man who was concerned that the lack of education was keeping the people of Yundum in poverty. In 2015 there are still an estimated 70 million children worldwide who do not attend school (Action Aid) and only 63% of young Gambian men and 41% of young Gambian women are literate (Unicef).
As I approached the school along narrow rutted sandy lanes, lots of kids were walking to school in their uniforms, all happily shouting “toubab!” and chasing my car. I approached the school gates and entered a neatly swept sand compound.
I greeted Ismaila Sama and Alimamoo Ceesay (who I knew from their trips to Abene) and other staff, before being lead over to well built and brightly painted class rooms where Di and Geoff sat beneath a large tree named the “Kebba Jaina tree” that symbolises strength, growth and life.
They were pretty surprised to see me and after downing some water, showed me around the class rooms and other facilities. At the same time, some of the staff were erecting their Christmas tree – always a funny sight for a Brit in the blazing sun:
Please check out their website here if you wish to learn more, sponsor a young Gambian or donate to this great project.
Finally, if you order one (or both) of my books from my site before the end of the year and add the word “Afrikaya” to the order notes, I will donate £1 (per book) to Afrikaya.