Teacher’s aid for the Gambia

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A PONTELAND school teaching assistant is urging residents to support an African community in advance of making another visit to the continent.

Carol Morgan will be taking items to Sifoe School, in the Gambia, over the Easter holiday and donations will also help staff to make urgent repairs following the rainy season and after the roof was blown off.

The poverty stricken facility has about 850 pupils over a four-day week and for many, the free meal they receive there is the only one they have that day.

Mrs Morgan, who works at Richard Coates Middle School, will be going to Sifoe for the fourth time and she is hoping to take goods such as clothing, stationery, sports equipment and old laptops, as well as cash for staff to spend on improvements.

She is part of a group from the North East who have been going there twice a year for the past decade.

“The teachers’ wages are paid for by the Gambia’s government, but fund-raising is required for everything else,” she said.

“Two classrooms are out of use due to the roof being blown off so that needs to be fixed as soon as possible, and other classrooms need some floor and wall repairs.

“We take over items that make a huge difference to the staff and students and we also do what we can to help them become self-sufficient. For example, we will take some plant seeds and watering cans because there are plans to develop a small school garden.

“The children will be on holiday when I go over in April, but hopefully many of them will come along and welcome us like they did last time I was there.

“It’s essential that they receive an education, otherwise they will have no chance of getting a job in the future.”

Some of the classroom equipment is being donated by staff and pupils at Richard Coates and members of the regional community have knitted 40 to 50 teddy bears, which will be given to a local health clinic near the school.

Any individuals or businesses who would like to help Mrs Morgan can contact her via the middle school on 01661 823167, or call her home number 01670 860235.