The ‘Gambia Speelt Mee’, which means ‘Gambia plays along’, has given Nema Day Care two swings - a seat joined by three ropes to a metal bar on which a child can sit and move backward and forward.
Installing the equipment, a member of Gambia Speelt Mee, Fatou Ceesay, said the playground will help to bring comfort to the children.
Fatou said she derives her joy by seeing children happy. “When I see children, particularly schoolchildren, it makes me happy,” she said. “Making the children happy, bringing comfort to them, while in school is the ultimate aim of Gambia Speelt Mee.”
According to Ms Ceesay, the playground equipment encourage the students to go to school and also improve their participation in class because after playing on the equipment the children are active and ready to participate actively in class.
The initiator of the project, Mr Bert Min, a successful Dutch businessman, says the playground will help to increase the enrolment of the school.
“Like I told the Principal of the school (Name Day Care), the school will soon experience higher enrolment of students,” Mr Min said.
“From my experience with other schools where I installed playground equipment, when I go there again I usually find out that the number of students going to that school has increased.
|L - R: Mr Min of 'Gambia Speelt Mee' shaking hand|
with the principal of Nema Day Care Nursery School
Nema Day Care is the 15th school that Gambia Speelt Mee project has given playground equipment to since 2010, when the project started.
It has built and offered playground equipment - such as swings, climbing-frame, and seesaws - to 15 nursery and primary schools in The Gambia.
With proper maintenance, the playground equipment have a lifespan of 10 years.
Mr Min pointed out that the initial target of the project is to get to the 15th school in 2014 but last year (2012) was a very successful year for the project in terms of fundraising, hence they were able to do more
schools than planned for that year.
“That is why we were able to get to the 15th school target earlier than planned,” he said.
One of the sponsors of the project, Geke Lagerburg, also a Dutch, was at the installation ground to have firsthand experience about how the project works.
Asked why she is supporting the project, Mrs Lagerburg said: “The project is very good; I am impressed with what Bert is doing.”
She said Gambia Speelt Mee is a project worth supporting. “What is more important to me is that Bert is using all the money he gets from fundraising for building and installing the playground equipment.
“His cost of ticket from Holland to The Gambia and going back is from his own pocket and even his stay in The Gambia he funds it from his own money.
“So any money he gets from the sponsors, from fundraising, is all directly spent on the project and that is what fascinates me most.”
Mrs Lagerburg, with her husband, is now the main sponsor of Batokunku school.
The Principal of Nema Day Care Nursery School, Ebrima Dickson, expressed appreciation to Gambia Speelt Mee for the playground equipment.
He said: “We are very happy; I do not know how to express our appreciation of the playground. The kids are very happy likewise the teachers because these things come at a time we are in need of it.”
However, he called on Gambia Speelt Mee “not to stop there”, saying whatever support they can give to the school will be appreciated.
“We are appealing for more help from philanthropists and any other organizations to help us, particularly with teaching materials, to make teaching easy for the teachers and learning enjoyable for the students,” he said.
Another phase of the project
|Mr Min with a sample of the furniture |
that his next project will be based on
“Initially we give them playground because we did not know in the first place, but it gives us some ideas,” Mr Mint said.
Now Gambia Speelt Mee is initiating a project to be giving school furniture to some schools in need of it.
“I have already identified the first school which needs about 60 furniture, for when I will come to The Gambia again in May 2013, but before then I will have done some fundraising back in Holland. We will give the school the furniture, and start with that. This I hope will also help the schools better,” he said.