|Front view of the new roof|
After it is repaired
Géke Lagerburg and her husband Simon, both from Holland, have renovated the roof of Batokunku Nursery School which was in a very dilapidated condition.
The couple changed the entire roofing - the timber and corrugates - of the building which consists of two classrooms and the headmistress’s office. The timbers of the previous roof were all eaten by terminates and the corrugate was very rusty.
The officials of the school said the condition of roof was such that if not refurbish, the government was going to close it down. That aside, if the rainy season meets the roof in such a bad state, small wind can blow the entire roof off or even without that when it rains, the corrugates leak like a sieve.
|Inside of the new roof|
It was because of the dire situation of the school that one of the teachers, Momodou Dambelle, has decided to prepare a donation paper to go to the hotel areas to look for sponsor who can come to the school’s aid.
It was in this process that Mr Dambelle met the Dutch couple, who were in the country for tourism, vacation.
|Front view of the school|
Before it is repaired
“When I show them the paper, they said they want to see the school for themselves,” Dambelle said. “So we had an appointment for them to come to the school and they came to the school on the appointed day.”
He said many people, tourists, have promised to come to the school to give a helping hand but they never came.
“So, when they came here, they asked us what we want, the help we want,” the headmistress of the nursery school, Jalika Kassama, said. “We told them that our urgent need is to help us make the roof. Roofing is our headache now. If the roof is not made, the children are going to suffer before the closing of school for summer holiday.”
|Inside of the old roof|
She said the couple then promised that they will do all they can to help the school to renovate the roof. According to the headmistress, the couple also promised that if the roofing is successfully completed then they may give the school other relevant help needed.
In fulfilment of their promise, the couple sent in the money for the renovation of the roof through their contact in The Gambia, Amadou Demba.
Now the work is completed, the school is having a new roof now.
Baboucarr Jatta, a senior teacher at the school, said the help of the couple came at a very good time.
All the officials of the school thanked the couple for their “timely intervention” for making the school environment conducive for learning, once again.
Amadou Demba, who was the one representing the couple in the country, said he is happy because the entire process of the renovation was very successful.
“Also, I am very happy because though I am not a native of Batokunku, I see that the project is not helping only the natives of Batokunku but the whole Gambia,” he said.
He thanked the teachers and the carpenter for their cooperation during the work.
|The Dutch couple pose with the teachers and the pupils of |
Batokunku Nursery School
The sponsors, the Dutch couple said they supported the nursery school because during their visit to the school they have seen that the roof was in a poor condition.
They also said during their visit they observed that the teachers are very kind and they really love the little children.
The duo said the teachers believe the kids are the future of The Gambia.
In this same vein, they - the couple – noted that whatever they do for the school, for the kids they are doing it for the future of The Gambia.
Now that the first engagement of the couple with the school is finished, they said they will discuss with the school officials to know what is most important to do for the school next.
However, the couple from Holland said now their plan is to involve the community in what they doing with the school so that the community can feel responsible for their own school.
Other help needed
However, the school officials are appealing for more help from the couple and any other philanthropist to help better the condition of the school and the pupils.
They are appealing for help for the completion of the school fence. The playground, swings, installed at the school by Gambia Speelt Mee is almost spoil because when school is closed, children in the community come to there to play and they have started to spoil it now.
When there is a fence, with a gate, after school the gate will be closed so nobody will be able to enter.
Also, the school is appealing for help for the pupils who do not have the school uniform to be provided with uniform. Many pupils at the school do not have uniform because their parents cannot afford it.
The school teachers also appealed for school feeding programme as in other nursery school in the neighborhood.
“Most of the pupils come to school without breakfast, so keeping them up to 12 noon is a problem; they may be around but they would not be able to learn properly because the brain will not work,” Babucarr Jatta, said.
Also, they said the office for teachers needs to be renovated so that teachers can be able to do their teaching effectively. Presently, there is no table, chair or a cupboard in the teachers’ office at the school.
Welfare of teachers
The teachers at the school said their welfare should also be taken into consideration.
Mr Jatta explained that there are 85 pupils in the school and the school fees is D10 per month. It is from the school fees that the teachers are given allowance. He pointed out that most of the time not more than 40 pupils pay at the end of the month.
“Now, in a month where only 40 pupils paid their school fees the total will be D400 and there are four teachers in the school, including the headmistress. In this case, each of us has only D100, for the whole time we devote to the school,” Jatta said.
However, he noted that their teaching at the school is voluntary. “We are not doing it primarily to earn a lot of money,” he explained. Even with that he said any philanthropic organisation or individual who can help to keep them going is most welcome.