One last push - imaginative Christmas gifts!

Six months ago there was a barren piece of land next to the playground in Sohm Lower Basic school, and the first activity took place around building the new multi-purpose hall. Progress has been swift, as these photos show, and all will be ready for the official opening of the hall, when we visit the country in January. 

Stuck for a present idea, for the person who has everything?

Help someone who has nothing

Make a name for your recipient in Africa

Since we launched our "chair naming" initiative, as a fund raiser, supporters have donated money to name over 100 chairs!

Imaginative people have come up with a whole range of interesting ideas for chair names. Some, as we had originally hoped, have named chairs after themselves; others, after grand children, other family members or well-loved, deceased relatives. 

Some donors have wanted to celebrate figures who may be inspirational, or role models for the students; figures from black African history, inventors, pioneers, African musicians and writers etc.

There are a number of chairs dedicated to our only two "institutional" sponsors - Beech Hill Primary School, in Luton and Redbridge Rotary Club - without whom this new hall would not be possible.  So - a very big "thank you" to them from us, and from the youngsters in The Gambia.

We have now got all the chairs to The Gambia, and our friends out there have stencilled the nominated names on the requisite chairs - as some of the photos show.

But - hurry, while stocks last!! We still have some sad looking chairs with no names - just waiting for your choice (and £25!). There are less than three weeks to Christmas and you know you are struggling for ideas for some "difficult" people.

Your dilemma is solved! Send us you "name" by Christmas Eve, with the £25 donation, together with the e.mail address of the person to whom you are sending the named chair as a gift. We will send them an e.mail with a photo of a named chair (not their name), but with a promise to send a framed print of a Sohm youngster, sitting on "their" chair, in the new hall, in February.

Two bites at the cherry! They get a "gift" promise on Christmas Day and the framed photo two months later. Two gifts for the price of one!

Simple! A quick way for you to solve a dilemma of a gift, we do the work for you, and the youngsters in Sohm get the benefit. Sounds like Christmas, to us!

Roll up - with role model footballers

John is a Crystal Palace supporter and has named a chair after every African footballer in the current squad; see below for a couple of examples.

As an extremely generous Christmas offer, we will be prepared to name other chairs after other African footballers, playing for other clubs - at no extra cost!!! 

For just £25, you could inspire up to 300 African youngsters who, on a daily basis, could see the name of your team's African all-star!

To "Name that chair"

Simply pick a name of your choice, and drop us a line to that effect, with a £25 (or more, if you like!) donation to Sohm Schools Support - see below for bank details.

If you want us to write to the recipient, telling them of your gift, just drop us their e.mail address, too. And consider it done!

We really do need the name before Christmas, as we have to get the stencil of the name made, before we leave for the Gambia in mid January. We will then have get the chair painted in time for the opening. 

We will send you, or your nominated person a framed photo of one of Sohm's youngster's sitting in the chair, in the hall, rather like the mocked-up one below when we return from the country in February.

We are creating a "Scroll of Honour", which will be displayed in the hall, saying a few words about the named person on every chair, to let the youngsters know a little about the people. You may wish to send a few words about your nominated "chair" person.

The bank details are:
Bank: Santander
A/c name: UK Sohm Secondary School (The Gambia)
Sort: 090128
A/c no: 04453414

Great progress with the new hall

The schools have been back from the summer holidays in The Gambia for about a month and there has been significant progress in the construction of the new hall in Sohm, that so many of you have generously contributed to.

As the photos show, the shell of the building has now been completed and plastering/rendering work is continuing apace.

As we have previously mentioned, our key contact at the school, Mr Lamin Saidy has been given a significant promotion away from the school, and we wish him well. 

Great progress with the construction work

The king is dead - long live the king! We are delighted to welcome Mt Jawara, as the new head.

He is in the white cap, at the centre of the photo, above, being shown around the construction project, with which he is totally delighted.

We are hopefully that the building will be complete by December, with the official opening next January, when Sandra and I will both be present.

Meanwhile, we are moving apace in furnishing the hall, through a great contact we have made, who imports second hand furniture into The Gambia from the UK.  

He has just sourced us 24 sturdy tables, that  can be used at school meal times, then stacked and pushed to one side of the hall, when other activities are taking place. Our friend is on the look out for a further 30 or so of them to ship out.

We have previously mentioned that he had secured 125 chairs for us, which are now in The Gambia. He has sourced a further 75, which will be shipped out in time for the opening of the hall.

Our "Make a name for yourself in Africa" (see earlier posts, below), initiative has gone well.  We are delighted to say that we are now able to "name" 62 chairs, under the scheme.  But there are still about 140 chairs without a name on their back, and for just £25 a chair, you could change that!

While, generally, it is invidious to name donors or chair sponsors, we must make an exception in the case of the family of Yasmin Hussain, a member of staff at Luton's Beech Hill school which is twinned with the Lower Basic school in Sohm.

Yasmin has been an enthusiastic supporter since we first met her, two and a half years ago.  She has passed on her dedication to her two children and six nephews and nieces.  Aged between 5 and 18, the eight of them have saved their Zakat (an Islamic charity donation scheme) and donated £300 to "name" twelve chairs in the school. Their parents have been so inspired by their action that they have added a further £200 - making a total family donation of £500 to Sohm.

Yasmin Hussain's generous family, showing their
support for Sohm Lower Basic school, in action!
Left to right; Saffa (11), Ibrahim (7), Alisha
(12, Anisa (16), Esa (6), Haleema (5),
Sumaya (11) and, front Musa (5)

We really can't thank them enough, and can't wait to bring back photos from Sohm, showing some of the school's youngsters at work on the chairs the family have sponsored.

A very productive summer

As the children in Sohm look to return to school, next week, they - and we - can reflect on a very productive summer for the school.

Construction work on our Sohm 2020 project - the new multi-purpose hall for the school - is proceeding at a rapid rate. We had only just put in place funds to complete the project in early July, and a week later signed the contracts and documentation, when, within days, work began on site.

The photos tell their own story of
rapid progress within six weeks.
As can be seen from the photos, progress has been remarkable on this 30 metre building, that will act as: a school dining room, assembly hall, gymnasium, prayer hall, and village meeting hall. We are optimistic building will be complete by the end of this year, so that we can be present at an official opening in the early months of 2020 - on schedule for our plans!

Make a Name for Yourself in Africa

In July we launched our "Make a Name for Yourself in Africa" initiative, where we offered donors the chance to have a chair in the new hall named after them, or a person of their choice. Each sponsored chair would have the chosen name stencilled on the back of it, and recorded, with brief details of the named person, on a Scroll of Honour, to be displayed in the hall.

We are delighted to say that we now have over 50 chairs sponsored, out of our first purchase batch of 100. We hope to purchase another 75 chairs later this year.

Our generous donors have been very imaginative in their choice of "names". Twelve grandchildren will receive copies of a photo of a Sohm child sitting on "their" chair, in the hall, in early 2020. 

Others have nominated four children, six African footballers, three African musicians, four Gambian historic figures, four world-wide philanthropists, three US civil rights leaders/campaigners, four deceased loved ones. 

Each donor will receive a photo of a Sohm pupil sitting on a chair with their nominee's name on the back of it, next year.

For just £25 you can have the name of
 your  choice properly stencilled on to the
 back of one of the chairs in the new hall.
 Your nominated person will have a brief
note about them on a Scroll of Honour
in the hall, and we will send you a photo
of a pupil, sitting on "your" chair when we
 visit Sohm next January.
See post, below, for further details.

One enthusiastic supporter has gone for slogans of encouragement, like "Go for it", as their sponsored message on four separate chairs!

We have worked hard and well with two heads and one deputy head at Sohm Lower Basic, who are no longer at the school - because of death or promotion elsewhere - to help us with this project. Each will be remembered on a chair back, as will the two principal funders of the project: Beech Hill Community School and Redbridge Rotary Club. Generous, anonymous sponsors from each of those organisations have paid for two chairs each, as a timely reminder of the contribution of their organisation to the construction of the hall.

We would like to say a big "Thank you" to each of these sponsors - and you know who you are! - for supporting this new hall project so imaginatively and constructively.

If you haven't got round to "Making a Name for Yourself in Africa", and would still like to - don't worry, you still have time, and there are available chairs! See the post immediately below this for full details of the scheme and how to sign up and help.

Moving on

It is with a little sadness that we report that Lamin Saidy, the deputy head at Sohm, with whom we have worked so closely on our projects at the school is moving on. He has been promoted to another school, and is excited at the new challenges he faces.  This is a justified reward for his diligence in Sohm, and we wish him well in his new post.

It is to Lamin's eternal credit that he put a great deal of effort into succession planning. One of the younger members of staff at the school, whom he mentored - Yahya Badjie - has picked up the baton and is continuing with the excellent supervision of the new building and reporting back to us, in Lamin's absence (including sending almost all the photos in this post).

Virtuous circle: outgoing deputy head, Lamin
 Saidy (right), with mentor, Yayha Badjie,
 displaying lesson planning booklets for staff
that they had made from materials supplied by
Sohm Schools Support. These put into practice tips
picked up from a training day delivered five years ago
by Natalie Carson, now deputy head of Beech Hill
school, Luton - Sohm's largest institutional funder!

So - a little period of adjustment for us, promotion for Lamin and a great opportunity for the new generation. The future looks safe. Couldn't be better! 

Summer school

One of Lamin's last jobs at Sohm was to organise three sets of summer classes, over the holidays for 133 of the school's children. These were a transitional class - for those moving to the village's senior secondary school, which we have significantly assisted. Plus two others, for pupils facing the Gambian equivalent of SATS 1 and 2 next year.

Lamin, and colleagues, identified the need, put together a case and we were delighted to find a sponsor who was happy to pay the £420 that it cost to put on the classes over the summer, shown in the photos, above and below.

Thank you all, once again, for your support for Sohm Schools Support. We hope you'll agree that the work in partnership, we have done with the school community there is bringing exciting results - and making a real difference to young African children's lives.

Make a name for yourself in Africa

The good news is, that through the fantastic efforts of our supporters, we have met our Sohm 2020 target - of raising £20k, by 2020, to build a new hall for the school and village. It will act as: a dining hall, assembly room, gymnasium, performance area, prayer room and village hall.

Building team survey the site
Work has already begun on construction, and we are promised completion by the end of this calendar year, and hope to bring back photos and videos to share with you, when we next visit in Jan/Feb 2020.

And the important stuff - the tape
measure is out.  Must be serious!
The even better news is that we are giving you an opportunity to become involved with the next stage in the project - and help furnish the hall!

We are launching: "Make a name for yourself in Africa". This is seeking sponsors to pay £25 to have a chair in the new hall dedicated to them. We have struck a deal with a furniture company to supply us with chairs, and with a stencil firm who will make stencils of people's names, which can be painted on the back of the chairs.

Your name - to be stenciled
 on the back of a chair
So - you may want your own name, that of a relative (living or deceased) as a memorial, or present. Or you might want the name of someone who you think could be a role model to these young Gambians - a sports star, a music or artistic performer etc. Sandra and I, for example, will be naming some chairs after some of our grandchildren and role model African footballers who play for Crystal Palace or Chelsea!

In addition to a name on the back of a chair, all sponsors will also have a one-line entry (of the choosing of the sponsor) about their subject on a "Scroll of Honour" that will be on the wall of the hall, so the children can see whose chair they are sitting on!

There are some minor conditions:

1. We will not permit the use of the name of any living politician, from anywhere, to be featured. We reserve the right to deny the use of any name we deem to be inappropriate.

2.The offer will allow for 14 characters in a name (inc spaces), there will be an additional cost of £5 for up to 14 more characters.

3. We would appreciate your donation at any time, but the offer closes on 15 December 2019, and photos and extracts from the scroll will be sent in February 2020.

4. Any queries about how to make the donation, or about the offer should be sent to

We would hope to get as many sponsors as possible signed up by the cut off point in December, so that we can get the stencils taken out in January and have the photos of a child sitting on the sponsors chair taken when we are next in the country.

All sponsors will get a framed photo of a Sohm youngster sitting on "their chair", and an extract from the Scroll of Honour. But most of all, they can have the satisfaction of having helped transform the education and life chances of a Gambian child.

I do hope you will be able to support us. But don't worry - we'll still talk to you, whatever your choice!

2nd July 2019 - a red letter day for Sohm

Tuesday 2 July 2019 was a great day for Sohm, although few in the village would have known it, at the time.

It was on that day that the last piece of funding fell into place and we were able to sign off the cost schedule and timeline for building the new hall and kitchen for the Lower Basic school. This was a project that we had labelled Sohm 2020, two years ago, as we set about raising £20,000 by 2020 for the project.

We are ahead of schedule and hope to be present for the opening of the new facility in January next year!

Architect's plans for the new hall -
to be complete by the end of this year!

The building will be our most significant contribution to the village of Sohm - by some distance - since we established the charity eight years ago. It will replace an old school dining hall, which had to be demolished, because it was dangerous two years ago, with a brand new facility. The previous building - over 35 years old - was inflexible. Its "furniture" consisted of immovable concrete blocks, which children perched on to eat from other concrete blocks. The school kitchen had no modern equipment.

Village elders and school governors,
after a session planning the layout and
location of the new school hall, in January 2019

The new building - 30 metres long - will be multi-functional. In addition to being a dining hall - , because we are acquiring flexible, portable furniture - it can also be used as a gym, an assembly hall, a prayer room, and the village's first community village hall. Village leaders have played a significant role in helping to design and decide the location for the hall, as shown by the photographs. They have been overwhelmed with gratitude at the generosity of our supporters.

Above: the decrepit (and now demolished)
building the new school hall will replace. Below: its
 roof, that was in danger of collapse

Our charity has been assisted by a number of individual donors, whose efforts have helped us reach our funding targets so rapidly.  We thank them all - you know who you are!

In addition, we have received huge support and assistance from two major organisational donors: Beech Hill community primary school, in Luton and Redbridge Rotary club. Sohm Lower Basic school has shown its recognition of their efforts on the freshly painted walls (funded by these donors!) in the main teaching block (see photo).

Redbridge Rotary and Beech Hill's logos,
outside Sohm LBS head's office, by way of
appreciation for their fund-raising efforts.

We have covered the activities of Beech Hill school in a number of posts (see above) notably for their splendid and highly successful Gambia Days.

Tuesday 2 July, however, was - in addition to our signing off the contract for the new build - a big day in our relationship with Redbridge Rotary Club. It was the hand-over day from one president to another.

Outgoing president, and friend of our charity, Tony Betts, presented two awards to SSS in his farewell address. One was a cheque of £1,000 to us - as one of his nominated charities for the year. The second was a prestigious Certificate of Appreciation from Rotary International for charitable work we undertake in The Gambia, putting some of the funds that they have raised to such good purposes. We were greatly humbled by both awards.

John and Sandra (centre) from SSS, receiving the
 Rotary International Certificate of Appreciation
from Tony Betts (left), immediate past president,
 and Mike Bell, incoming president of Redbridge Rotary 

The Rotary International Certificate of Appreciation

We would, very publicly, like to put on record our immense gratitude to Redbridge Rotary for its generous support to us over each of the last four years - and we look forward to its continuation.

We promised the club, in return for their support, to return next February with a short video of the opening of the new hall, for which they have contributed so much, to support.
The old kitchen's cooking stoves

"Furniture" in the old building, which
 made it unfit for multi-purpose use.

They, like Beech Hill, and all of our generous sponsors really have helped transform young African lives, in ways in which it is difficult to appreciate from the comfort of our homes in the UK.

Thanks, one and all - onward to 2020 and the opening of the new hall!

Beech Hill's generosity tops £8,000

Beech Hill Community Primary School, Luton - which is twinned with Sohm Lower Basic school - recently held their second "Gambia Day" and raised over £2,000 for their linked school in The Gambia.

Beech Hill's 2019 Gambia Day: some of the pupils
 "modelling" African masks we took for the occasion,
 all suitably dressed in Gambian flag colours, and
supervised by SSS's Sandra Walker,
 sporting her Gambian top

It was a "non-uniform" day in the school, and pupils were encouraged to go dressed in the red, blue and green colours of The Gambian flag. Sandra and John Walker, of Sohm Schools Support lead assemblies for the 900 pupils at the school, and were in attendance all day, sharing stories and watching the Luton children hard at work

Beech Hill pupils, hard at work,
 creating Gambian flags

The day's school work was turned over to Gambia-related topics, as students wrote postcards home to their parents, based on an imaginary holiday in the tourist country of The Gambia. Other children drew and painted African scenes, from materials shown to them by our charity and accessed on the internet. There were African dance, song and story telling sessions; and at the end of the day some of the pupils' parents sold curries and other food, from donated products, with the proceeds going to the Gambian school.

Painting and cutting out masks

Over £2,000 was raised on the day, bringing the total fund raising efforts of Beech Hill's pupils, parents and staff to over £8,000 over the last two years.

Natalie Carson, deputy head of Beech Hill said: "The Sohm story has really captured the imagination of our pupils and parents, who have been delighted to help. I visited the school in The Gambia about 5 years ago, and know what a huge difference our students' efforts will make to improving the educational chances of these African youngsters. The Gambia work is great for extending our children's education and appreciation of the ways of life of people their same age in other countries."

Some of the staff at Beech Hill have recently put a huge amount of work into creating an exhibition for the school's foyer, showing pupils and parents, alike, the results of some of the school-twinning.

Beech Hill's Sohm exhibition -
pride of place in the school foyer

The exhibition shows: Sohm and Luton's youngsters work celebrating the twinning. There are "before" and "after" photos of the difference Luton's fund-raising has made to projects in Sohm. There are press cuttings of some of the excellent coverage Beech Hill has received from Luton Today.

A key feature of the exhibit is the "building blocks of progress", this shows how far Beech Hill has come in raising its target of £10,000 for The Gambian school. Sohm School Support trustee, Sandra Walker said: 

We are able to get "matched funding" from others for Beech Hill's efforts, which means we can soon start construction on our most ambitious project: a 30 metre hall and kitchen for Sohm Lower Basic school. This will replace a dangerous and dilapidated dining hall that was not fit for purpose.
And ... the money raised by Beech Hill,
to date - in excess of £8,000 - well placed
to hit their £10,000 target by 2020.

The new building will be multi-functional and act as a dining hall, gym, meeting room, assembly hall, prayer room and the village's first community hall. It will last until the Beech Hill students are themselves parents of primary school pupils in Luton. What a fabulous present and legacy they are giving to their Gambian friends! 
Meanwhile, we undertake to keep you updated, as progress is made on the construction of the new building and hope to be there for its opening in the new year, which we will record and share on this site. 

Brilliant response

Lamin Saidy, Sohm Lower Basic school's acting head, has had a great response from our supporters to his letter of thanks to us, published, below, in February this year.

The Luton Herald, the main newspaper circulating in the catchment area of Beech Hill , the school with which Sohm Lower Basic is twinned, published the article below summarising Lamin's letter to us. 

We thank journalist, Jo Gravett, and the paper, for spreading the message in such a positive way.

We sent Lamin a copy and he expressed his appreciation: " Thank you John. we are very much grateful to you. This is wonderful."

Lamin went on to say:
I would like to inform you that our school has come top in the recently concluded Cluster MINI CCM (Consultative Committee Meeting). The aim of this exercise is to gauge the performance of the school in the area of Leadership and Management, Curriculum Delivery, Pupils' Performance and Learner Welfare and School Environment.
Out of the ten schools in the Cluster, including the Upper Basic Schools and the Senior Secondary School, we came out first in ranking. Our performance in this exercise is as a result of your unflinching support to the school.
We hope that the relationship we start with our friends grow from strength to strength.
Thank you to you all. With love from Lamin.

Meanwhile, a senior executive of a major UK aid charity who is a supporter of our charity, in a personal capacity, contacted us. Having seen Lamin's response to the newspaper article, he said:
That's all very satisfying and shows how investment can trigger great results.
 I thought the sentence from Lamin Saidy summed up how development should work: 'Our performance in this exercise is as a result of your unflinching support of the school'. Investment unleashes the inherent potential - brilliant!
Praise - and support - indeed, from one who knows!

Out and about

Sohm is, by Gambian standards, a fairly remote village.  One of the great challenges is for the children there to become familiar with the wider, outside, world.  A couple of events recently have addressed this.

Independence day in The Gambia, as in all post colonial countries, is a big occasion for national celebration and pride, and some of Sohm's youngest got a very early taste of it, as the photo below shows.

The nursery school celebrated the day in a local village, in a ceremony attended by 140 other nursery schools in the region. The photos shows some of the Sohm contingent at the march past.

Meanwhile, one of the Lower Basic school's older girls is making a name for herself in the national athletics arena. There was a national schools' athletics meet at the National Stadium in March, to celebrate the 53rd anniversary of independence.

Sohm Lower Basic's Nyima Badjie, representing both the school and its region came second in the high jump for her age group. Nyima, shown below, is a pen pal of one of the youngsters at Beech Hill primary school. She established her mark with almost no training or coaching.  

Safe to say, if she were in the UK she would already be signed up to a major athletics club and being groomed as a potential competitor in the 2024 Olympics. Sadly, Nyima's talents will not be so well nurtured in The Gambia.

Despite, or possibly because, of this, Nyima deserves our greatest congratulations!

Well done, Nyima Badjie
 - champion high jumper

Letter of thanks from Sohm Lower Basic School

We have recently received this unsolicited letter of thanks from Lamin Saidy,  the acting head teacher of the Sohm Lower Basic school (the previous head, unfortunately, died in January of this year, just prior to our visit to The Gambia. In his own words, he summarises most of what we have been attempting to do to assist his school, over recent years.

It is a satisfying read for us. We hope you agree - and thank you for your on-going support to our small charity.

Our sincere gratitude to the Sohm Schools Support (SSS) and Jersey Gambia Schools Trust (JGST) for the wonderful contributing role they are playing in supporting our development agendas. Through the engagement of SSS and JGST in our quest to develop Sohm Lower Basic School into model rural school, a lot has been achieved on the infrastructure and teaching and learning equipment. 
Each time John and Robin are seen in the school, everyone feels happy, even the pupils. Their every visit in the school is impressive but this year’s visit is particularly very impressive. This is manifested in the way our friends were received in the school. The welcoming involves personalities from the village and the staff and pupils of the school. 

This year's welcome
There was a short session organised purposely to complement the effort of all our friends through John and Robin by the community awarding presents and certificates to John, Robin and Kakai. It is our wish for every partner to have a form of reward but we do not have the capacity to do so but we believe that God will deservedly reward all those who in one way or the other contributing to the development and welfare of our school.
Our two friends (SSS and JGST) always listen to our problems and try to make sure that the problems known are no more than a threat to jeopardise our progress. This is how we got improvements on the library, sick room, water supply, toilets, fencing, and mending of the dilapidated classroom block and, of course, the electrification of the whole school. 
Each of the projects accords us an opportunity to adding a value to our equipment and assets.
The first big project implemented in the school was the electrification project before the installation of which we had to travel to the nearby towns to process our documents. The installation of electricity accords us the opportunity to get equipment such as computer laptops, desk tops, printers and copiers. Having the equipment in the school relieve us from travelling to the town only to copy or print a document. 
The time wasted did not helping the day to day running of the school. Time was wasted and there was reduction in human resources. The one running the errand has to leave a gap on the ground unattended. Today we are not leaving our post only for printing or copying rather, we have our own equipment that we use at our level to do our work. All the facilities we are enjoying today came through the support of our friends SSS and JGST.
Following the electrification project was the library and sick room were refurbished simultaneously. 
Before the renovation took place in the library, there is nothing that we did not do to keep away the termites. All the efforts taken to repel the termites went in vain. For the sick room, there was a space for it, but nothing could be done there at that material point in time (as there were no resources). 
The restored library

We have children coming from nearby villages walking a distance of two to three kilometres, whenever they fall sick we have no place to rest them much more to administer a first aid treatment.
The first aid kit box was empty with no drugs and no other first aid equipment. This poor sick child had to be sent back home unattended. Our friends (SSS and JGST) felt this situation with us and responded to our plight, making our library termite free and fixed our sick room for us, providing first aid equipment and arranging first aid training for the whole staff.
We had only one water source for the school and this single pump was shared with the community. Our friends (SSS and JGST) intervened to improve the limited water supply in the school. We now have a stand pipe at the staff quarters, one at the garden, two for children and one behind the classroom, which children use when going to the toilet.
The most recent development in the school is the fencing project and the renovation of six classrooms. These two came at a time we needed them most. There were cracks on the walls, cracks on the floor broken doors and damage on the roof of a classroom. The cracks on the walls affected the blackboards, preventing teachers from writing on the blackboard. 
The whole of the six classroom block was renovated and painted, blackboards repaired and the broken doors fixed. The roof was fixed, so we no longer fear for books and papers getting wet or unauthorised people entering the classrooms after school hours, to tamper with our materials.
One of the six refurbished
Our friends (SSS and JGST) are not only supportive on the side of infrastructure,  but are also supportive on the side of stationery. They provide an annual supply of stationery based on what the school needs. The stationery received every year always address our needs, meaning we are getting the required quantity and quality of materials that will serve our teaching and learning needs through to the next year. 
Pupils showcasing some of this
year's stationery supplies

There is no child in the school without the basic school materials such as: books, pens, pencils, erasers, rulers, sharpeners. Teachers also have vanguards (poster paper), markers, rulers, glue, a laminator, a television set and cello tape, to prepare the learning materials in their classes.

Educational DVD (supplied by SSS)
captivating children, on TV (supplied by SSS),
running on electricity
(paid for and introduced by SSS)
The support of our friends does not only stop at the aforementioned assistance they render to us.
The pending project proposed for the school this year is the school hall with a kitchen and a store.

Architect's drawings for the new
hall/kitchen/store block - this year's major project
The store, as proposed, will be fully furnished with movable chairs, electrified and fitted with equipment such as projector for school based workshops and meetings as well as audio visual classes. 
The hall should also have a stage basically for sport, drama, role play and other educational activities. This same hall will serve as the school assembly hall.
Another wonderful initiative we have from our friends (SSS and JGST) is that we are linked with First Aid For the Gambia, where we now get our annual first aid supply for the sick room and they arrange biannual first aid training for the teachers. We just had the third supply of equipment and supplies and the second first aid training, on Friday 25th January 2019. 

First Aid training and
supplies, each year
A P.O. Box was also opened for the school in February 2019 to make mailing easy and secure for the school. Last year our friends in Luton sent us letters and packages, which, until today, we have not received. 
This time we are hopeful that our mail will not get lost. Anything to be sent to the school will come through:
Sohm Lower Basic SchoolP.O. Box 5380BrikamaWest Coast RegionThe GambiaWest Africa 
It is in our plans to make good use of the resources at our disposal in a positive way, in order to bring about greater opportunity to attract a culture of being supportive in the day to day running of the school including feeding the school children. 
We want improvement in our water supply in order intensify gardening and farming within the school.
The Mothers' club is an instrumental partner, as far as grooming and caring of school children is concerned. We have high hopes of this club which is already established in the school. We are relying on the able- mothers club to come to our aid, by invitation, to be part of us in the garden to grow more crops and feed our children who will sometimes come to school hungry. 

School gardens, watered by new pump
- helping to grow food for the hungry
children's school breakfasts

The success of this project is assisted by the more efficient water supply with efficient garden tools and farming implements at our disposal.
In conclusion, we have to extend our sincere gratitude to the staff and pupils of Beech Hill Primary School, Luton and the management of Rotary International, Redbridge. 
Acting head, Lamin Saidy, showing his
appreciation to two of our largest supporters

We would not forget the personalities of John, Robin, Carol, Sandra, Natalie and their Gambian counter Mr. Kakai Sanyang for their unflinching support to make things possible the way they are with us here in the Gambia. 
We alone can tell how much your support means to us. Everybody knows about your support in our school. 
Lamin Saidy - acting head teacher, Sohm Lower Basic School 
20 February, 2019