School year ends in Sohm

Much of our attention this year has been spent in driving forward, with Rotary, the Sukuta school renovation project - about which more, later. 

But we haven't forgotten our friends in Sohm, the first school with which we worked in The Gambia. Although, for COVID reasons, we were unable to visit the country this year, we have been able to make an impact, as a result of the generous donations we have received from our supporters and sponsors.

What follows is a brief summary of some of our impacts over the last twelve months. 

We have assisted the school in getting anti-COVID supplies to it, including hand gels and a range of face masks and shields, as the photos below illustrate:

We supplied the staff with a new laptop computer, on which they have been able to keep the school's COVID records. Thankfully, there have been no incidents at the school.
We have maintained our annual stationery order to the school, whereby we are able to provide all materials the pupils and staff need for the whole academic year.
We introduced electricity to the school about five years ago, and gave a commitment that we would pay the running costs(fortunately no heating bills to incur!). Here is a receipt, for about £9, for the quarterly charges, we have been happy to support.
Regular readers will know that our biggest project in Sohm, to date, has been the construction of a large, multi-purpose, assembly hall last year. We are delighted to report that it continues to be well used, both by the school and the local community. Below are photos of one of the regular assemblies and, excitingly for us, pictures from an inter-school debating contest the school was able to host in the hall, recently.

The hall is the main community assembly room in the village of Sohm, and is used for a range of local events, such as the women's assembly shown below. We have encouraged the school to adopt a charging policy for these lettings and have offered to match fund the income they receive from the lettings, to supply enhancements to the hall and school. 

As a result, we have been able to purchase an additional 100 chairs for the school, a PA system (which many of those letting the building have asked for) and some much needed ceiling fans for the hall. This great partnership working has improved facilities in the school and strengthened community relationships and ownership of the hall.

From the UK, we have maintained our relationship with fellow British charity First Aid 4 Gambia and have ensured that there has been further first aid training and supplies given to the school. Many thanks to our Scottish friends for this. In the spirit of improving first aid facilities, we have also upgraded the beds in the sick room, which we restored a few years ago.

So, it's been a difficult year, because of COVID, but we feel that - even at a distance - we have been able to continue our support to the Lower Basic school in Sohm, thanks to the continued generosity of our family, friends and supporters. On behalf of the children in Sohm, we would like to say a very large Thank You to you all! 

Meanwhile, our major pre-occupation this year has been progressing the Sukuta project, which, with great Rotary assistance, we are attempting to oversee a major renovation of the Sukuta Lower Basic school. It has over 2,000 children and is the country's largest primary. 

There has been a slight delay in progressing this, as the Rotary annual budget for supporting projects such as ours was exhausted earlier than expected this year. However, the new Rotary year began on 1 July and we were encouraged to make a grant application for this new year. Which we have done! 

Without wishing to sound too confident, we look forward to being able to announce significant progress with the project within a month or two. 

Thank you for reading. Your continued support is important to us, and is vital to Gambian youngsters.

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