volunteering in The Gambia … one of the most significant experiences of my life

volunteering in The Gambia … one of the most significant experiences of my life

This just in from Karen, a volunteer in The Gambia

My time with Mary’s Little Lambs has been one of the most significant experiences of my life and I hope that I will be able to assist with similar projects in the future.. I love the Gambia and can’t wait to return.

On my first visit (stood on the outside looking in),

The Garden Day One

I noted a leaf covered area containing several trees, species mostly unknown to me, a broken well, a very large termite mound, a rusty frame several metres high supporting a huge water tank (which uses gravity to supply the school with water), a circular shed-sized storage building in concrete with a rusty metal door, a concrete-lined fire pit which doubled as a compost heap, many old tyres and a pile of felled tree trunks.

My remit was to turn this into a productive vegetable patch, with the help of Abdoulie (school groundsman), one pick axe, the rusty head of one spade (minus handle) and one very weak rake, fastened to a stick. The heat was unseasonably intense and was such that it was impossible to undertake any manual work after 11.30am so, although I started at 7.30am each morning, my working day was short and I had plenty of time to explore the area, shop for seeds etc or relax by the pool at the apartment in the afternoons.

Abdoulie and Karen

When I wasn’t working physically in the garden, I visited market outlets and allotment gardens to seek advice on seasonal planting in Kololi. This was all new to me but by the end of my 3 weeks, I had put together a guidance chart for what to plant and when, taking into account school holidays and the rainy season but also speed of germination to ensure that the children would not get bored waiting.

The children and teachers celebrating the garden

What still needs to be done:
* Felled trees need to be cleared for the safety of the children (teachers offered to involve families in this)
* The termite mound needs to be cleared to make space for composting
* Abdoulie needs a dual partition compost area. Would recommend this to be sited in the far corner of the garden as 2 of the 4 walls required are already available.
* The well needs to be fitted with a working mechanism to enable the staff and children to draw water.
* Addition of further beds as required (Abdourahmen is very keen to grow fruit and vegetables himself on the premises).

Click here to read more about this project

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