One year on from their first trip to the Smiling African Coast country of Gambia, Stevenage FC Foundation returned over the Easter weekend to continue the fantastic work they undertook last year in the northern remote village of Sittanunku.
Supported by twenty volunteers aged 20 – 74 years old the Foundation set off with even bigger plans to make a positive impact on the village, whose 2,000 strong population are deprived of electricity and running water in their homes.
Departing on Easter Friday the group arrived in the Gambia to meet a 40 foot shipping container they had sent out back in October which contained thousands of education, sporting and medical donations. These were promptly distributed to fourteen schools and three medical centres in the north of the country, before the volunteers set up camp in amongst the village’s local residents.
Throughout the duration of the trip the Foundation sort to not only make a short term impact on the village, but to pass on skills and help create sustainable projects which could help provide residents with a variety of future benefits. Projects included the installation of two new sets of goals and dugouts at the Foundation funded Mansa Wally Football Academy. The painting of the new Chessay nursery school funded by partner charity Football Gambia and the installation of a small adventure playground at Demba Holley School.
In addition to construction projects carried out on prior African trips by the Foundation, this year saw the Charity delivery a variety of educational sessions in local schools via the support of five teaching staff from Ashtree and Martinswood School in Stevenage and the rural school of Sandon. Engaging with over 300 children the teachers delivered literacy, numeracy and sports based lessons, as well as helped mentor local volunteer teachers.
Head of Foundation Alex Tunbridge who organised the trip summarised it success by stating ‘this year’s trip, like last year's, was even more ambitious than the last and we are delighted to have completed everything we set out to do’. He continued to state that ‘the diverse array of volunteers have been a credit to not just the Foundation but the local community, making an unmeasurable difference to the village of Sittanunku’.
Back in September the trip looked in jeopardy following the outbreak of Ebola in Western Africa, yet an effort of twenty charismatic club based volunteers means a very small village on the African Smiling Coast will be smiling just that little bit more.
Check out all the action from the trip at 5.30pm after the Carlisle United match in the Broadhall Suite, when the Foundation will be showing their video diary from the trip.