First Aid transformation

We are proud to have championed and facilitated a transformation in the First Aid provision in Sohm Lower Basic school over the last two years.

This article sets out how it has been undertaken and the spectacular results achieved.

Each year we sit down with the heads of the two schools in Sohm to determine their priorities for our funding them for the next twelve months. Last January a key project for the Lower Basic school was to reconstruct the dilapidated and non-functioning sick bay (see photos).

The way the sick bay was
... and from the outside
We got the head to provide costings for a complete refit that would: re-plaster and paint the walls, re-floor, provide a new door, two beds, a medicines cupboard and some limited other furniture - and curtains. The overall cost was out of our budget, but we found a funding formula that worked - see footnote for details.

So, we were able to give the project the go-ahead and ensure that the money was available for the refurb. Political uncertainties in the country held the project up for a while, but the work was complete by the time we revisited in February this year.

The school was able to proudly show us the results then.

We then worked with a local pharmacist and the first aider at the school to stock a secure medicine cupboard with necessary items (see photos).

.. and is now
A First Aid room/Sick Bay is vital at the school, where children can experience bouts of malaria, debilitating hunger pangs and the older girls experience menstruation for the first time. The medical facilities in the village are almost non-existent, apart from a couple of visiting clinics held every month or so.

Lamin - deputy head (far left), first aider,
 Malamin, head (blue shirt) with teacher and
 three pupils displaying early first aid kit,
 in refurbed sick bay/first aid room
For some time we have been following a UK charity First Aid 4 Gambia on Twitter (@FirstAid4Gambia -, and have been impressed with their work in the local education sector. So we contacted them to see if they could help take the Sohm project on to the next level.

They could - and responded remarkably quickly. For a small annual charge (well within our budget)they have undertaken to completely restock the medicine cabinet each year with appropriate provisions and to provide first aid training every two years for a dozen or so people nominated by the school's head.

The first training session took place within a month of us making the connection, and the results were spectacular - as the photos and comments show.

Head, Malamin Gibba opening the training session

Staff and community members at
 FirstAid4Gambia training session
The head and deputy head, together with the nominated first aider took part, as well as the head boy and head girls (a great move in our opinion), two parents/members of the community and seven teachers.

Community members dressing wounds
First Aid 4 Gambia declared the day a great success and the school was more than delighted with the outcome.

Head boy learning
respiratory techniques
This small initiative has not only up-skilled members of the school staff, but provided a huge boost to health provision within the whole community - all for £150!!

New first aid kit - courtesy of FirstAid4Gambia
The school head wrote to us:
So pleased with your effort in bringing this wonderful initiative to our school. We have all benefited from the training. Every teacher in the school is now a first aider.

Deputy head practices wound dressing,
 with head as the patient
The First Aid 4 Gambia trainer reported back to his charity that the training went well:
Monday 10 April 2017, New training course with supplies to the Sohm Lower Basic School at the Sohm Village West Coast Region.

Staff practising respiratory techniques
 14 participants received the training including the School Head Boy and The Head Girl respectively attended the training .The school is running a first aid centre which is well organised and clean, two beds in for temporal admission in case of any emergency.
The School First aider was also part of the workshop, along with 2 community members also joined the training. All the topics were briefly discussed which to my understanding was well received and their practicals were perfect too.

Head girl hard at work, using
 some of the training equipment
 FirstAid4Gambia brought to the day
All the participants were certified and the school was fully supplied. Though it was a long day, everything went successful.
On behalf of the School Mr Malamin Gibba the school Head  thanked the Charity for the gesture, as First Aid 4 Gambia have boosted them to a higher level in terms of first aid.

Some of the other equipment used on the day
 He said the community will also benefit from the supplies.
We would like to thank all of our supporters for helping us achieve this. It is quite an extraordinary achievement, made possible by goodwill, and partnership working across charities, with the fullest enthusiasm from the host community.

Deputy head, Lamin, practisng revival techniques

Footnote: The funding formula

The cost of the building work and refurbing the old sick room was in the region of £2,000. This is considerably out of our price range, but our Jersey partners in Sohm were able to persuade the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission to "match fund" our contribution to the cost. So, suddenly tour commitment was halved to £1,000.

The happy, first aid-certified training
attendees show their certificates
Bearing in mind that we are able to get 25% Gift Aid funding from the UK government for most of the money we raise from UK taxpayers in donations, it meant that we only needed to raise £800 from our donor/sponsors to fund our contribution and kick start this remarkable achievement.

April 2017 Newsletter: Getting bogged down in toilet matters

As we reported in our newsletter of October last year (see here), following a some dealings with Simon Danczuk, the MP for Rochdale over the last few years, we decided to name a toilet block in the senior secondary school after him.

The ceremony was covered by the Mail-On-Line (see here for full details and below for some of it) in February this year, and we reproduce, below some of their extensive coverage.

We are delighted to say that these facilities are now up and running and much appreciated by the staff and students, alike, at Sohm Senior Secondary school.
Ok, we'll leave out the endless puns.

We are pleased to report that we "sold" the story to the Mail-On-line, through a news agency and that money received will help us fix more school toilets in the village.

For the coming year, the Lower Basic school in the village has asked us to refurbish their toilets - for boys, girls and staff.  The photos tell their own story of how much this restoration is needed.  These three tiny blocks provide toilets for over 400 students and 25 staff.

This year's funding project
They are clearly insanitary and, until March this year, were nowhere near running water.

The concrete bases of the blocks have cracked and the ground underneath the blocks are home to snakes - particularly in the rainy season in the country (summer and autumn), with the result that many pupils and staff, alike, refuse to use them.
Roof and doors blown off
 during rainy season
The school's request for assistance is modest. We are committed to working in partnership with our colleagues from Jersey to: restore and recent the concrete bases and erect new doors and roofs, where necessary.

Girls' toilet - snakes nest
below the concrete slab.
200 girls only toilet at the school
Fortunately, because of a water supply project the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission has funded, a new standpipe was erected close to these outside toilet blocks in March this year, to try and address some of the sanitary issues associated with them.

Roofless staff toilets
Given the success of the naming of the Simon Danczuk block, we would look sympathetically on bids to rename any of these three blocks after other people, in return for a suitable donation.  

Water now running near toilets,
 for better sanitation
We will of course be willing to supply photographs of the unveiling of the appropriately named facilities to any sponsor.  Just contact us at: if you are interested in this nomination facility!
Whose name would you like to
 adorn this fine facility
- when renovated, of course!