Jumpers bring joy

Boys from Sifoe School in the Gambia with jumpers donated by Ponteland High School.
Boys from Sifoe School in the Gambia with jumpers donated by Ponteland High School.

PART of a uniform no longer needed at a Ponteland school is being put to good use in an African country.

A group of people from the North East, including Richard Coates Middle School teacher Carol Morgan, have frequently visited Sifoe School in the Gambia with equipment, items and financial donations to help pupils and staff.

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

Dozens more attend the nearby Busumbala nursery, which is supported by Atkinson House School in Seghill.

After changing its uniform this summer, Ponteland High School agreed to donate hundreds of jumpers worn before the switch to the project.

They have now been sent to both places and at the nursery, there were enough of them for every child.

Mrs Morgan said: “There is no health service or benefits system in the Gambia, so these children need support to make sure they receive an education.

“The jumpers will make a big difference and we’re very grateful to Ponteland High.

“Temperatures that we find pleasant, they find cool, so the clothing will be very important, particularly at night-time.”

Other items that have been donated include stationery, sports equipment, old laptops and classroom equipment, and group members have knitted a number of teddy bears for the younger ones.

Some of the money from Richard Coates Middle School has been used to help Sifoe create a garden area and the gardener there is starting to grow some quality vegetables for meals.

Mrs Morgan added: “We also need to help with materials for the school buildings because there are ongoing costs to maintain and improve them.

“Classrooms can sometimes be put out of use due to roofs being blown off and others need some floor and wall repairs.

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

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