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.

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