Past Trips

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Team size: 16 Secondary school students, two school staff and one member of ARC staff

Projects completed at Bakau Lower Basic School:
• School Market constructed
• School desks repaired.


Day 1 - enroute to Gambia

Up at 4am for a full english breakfast (just what you need at 4am!), then off to the airport.

6hrs in the air later and having had Lottie and Ellie spent their time admiring two fit young male twins on the plane (way out of their league!!) we arrived at Banjul airport. Whisked through customs as VIP's and no security we were met by Mr Jobe, Musa and children from both schools.

We arrived at Bakau school to the most amazing welcome we have ever witnessed. We were pulled up out of our seats and made to dance. There is no opportunity not to become involved! After some of the fellow volunters had caught up with some of the children they sponsor we made our way to our rooms to set up our mosquito nets.

We had Benachin (fish dish) for dinner and then an early night at 8.30 ready for a hard days work tomorrow.

A joint diary effort!


Day 2 - Start of Labour

After an early night we awoke at 7 o’clock to an unsurprising power cut. Breakfast consisted of plain bread rolls as the bakery had decided that our usual breakfast, a croissant had surprisingly been taken off the menu. Everyone was excited to find out what was to come with the project, so our next task for the day was to plan out how we were going to go about doing the project work.
Our first task was to clear the rubble and plant roots out of the way, dumping them into a massive pile that is going to be set a light to make a bonfire later on in the week. This was a rather an entertaining as none of us knew exactly what to do as we were a little bit overwhelmed by the dirt and insects. Although after a short time clearing the rubble we all started to get into the work that we were doing. After break we found that we were a head of schedule. So once our break was over we started to help to move the desks out of the classrooms and over to a big tree where we could work in shade. Once this was done we became aware that the rest of our work for the day had been set out. It consisted of digging out footings and leveling off, as the ground that we had been given to build on was not level what so ever. So with work fully underway we all started to enjoy our selves more. It was time for lunch and we all settled down to our sandwiches and fruit.
After lunch we went back to work and got stuck in straight away to our last 3 hours of work. The speakers playing we became engrossed in our work. As the day came to an end we all started to back away. As we were walking past the Gambian children, to start to get ready for the evening, the children found it funny to laugh at all of us as we looked like chimney sweeps.
After a really good start to the week we are all looking forward to what is next to come for us.
Charlotte and Lola


Day 3

We woke up expecting a long hard day ahead of us, the croissants were unavailable… again so we had bread once more, and after breakfast we went straight to work on the building and desks. It was our first full day so everybody was expecting a lot of hard work. We were assigned to our previous working groups from the day before; some were building and fixing benches whilst others made cement. We all swapped and helped each other, as people got tired. As the bench work came to a close we began to varnish and tighten the screws.
The next job was to make the cement. Tumbulu showed us the measurements and we started to work mixing sand, cement powder and stones. There are no machines out here so we had to do it by hand getting wheelbarrows and filling them by hand or shovel with the different substances we then mixed together the sand and cement powder together turning it over and mixing it by shovel, after that we put the stones in with it and poured water further over the mixture until it was a cement consistency. After that we shoveled it into wheelbarrows to take over to the foundations of the building and pour in the holes. As well as cement and desks we started making bricks…by hand slotting them into molds and pushing them out and leaving to dry, by the end of the day we had made 140 bricks. As the day was coming to a close a water fight broke out and everybody got soaked. After work we relaxed and washed clothes before having tea which was yassa - a lime and vegetable sauce with fish and vegetables and of course the drink wonjo juice.
It was Sophie’s birthday so in the evening we had some drummers, they also sang and dance for Sophie’s birthday. We finished off with birthday cake, a card and a present from her parents. She also received a phone call from her parents. It was a great end to a long, but enjoyable day.
Sophie and Jess F


Day 4

The day started off with an assembly, where we all had to go on stage and introduce ourselves. The children, led by one of the teachers, sang us lots of songs, which was a good start to the day. Then we were invited to sing some songs from the UK! We decided to sing ‘if you’re happy and you know it’ ‘Rudolph the red nosed reindeer’ and ‘ I like the flowers’. All the children joined in which made us all smile! Then we continued with our work. We separated into groups but we were swapping around so everyone could conserve their energy for the day ahead. The desks were finally finished which gave us a feeling of satisfaction. The brick making group made 500 bricks with a huge effort from Ruby, James and Bamusa (one of the apprentices). Well Done! After a lunch of sandwiches I went with Mr Ralls, Lauren, Jess W and James to Mandinari to see how the other team. It was in a much more rural area. We helped them out with some desk making and played with the children. We were very impressed with their work and soon set off home. When we got back we got out of the car and went straight to play with the children. I found out that Ruby had tried some local tea and really liked it …. What a weirdo wink. We soon had dinner which was Chicken and rice in Red sauce which was delicious! We then relaxed and prepared ourselves for the next few days ahead where am I am sure the whole project will come together. One question we have is … is it snowing in England?

Lots of love from everyone here in The Gambia


Day 5 & 6

Sorry we are a bit behind with the blogs, been really busy so we are going to do 2 days in 1!

We have pretty much done the same in the past 2 days, work work work work! yesterday night we had a special christmas disco for the kids at the school. We were all very shocked at how they danced. We were invited to get up and dance by the DJ's and pupils, we showed the Gambians how dancng was meant to be for their age!  Also we have been teaching Sex Education for the grade 6 pupils. We were split into groups, girls and boys.  Our first approach to the classes was awkward but the children managed to open up to us all, which was pretty amazing cause their views were completely different to ours.

After a hards days work we decidied to throw a water fight...

Lottie and meryem decidied to go to the toilet and get the toilet bucket we filled to flush the toilets.  They filled it with water and dragged it to where Alex was. They poured it all over Alex and this was the start of the water fight.  Then everyone decided to get involved - even the kids and Gambian workers.

Yesterday was our last day of work so we all got stuck in and tryed to do the most work that we could. We had make the reinforcements for the pillars and level all the rubbish and dirt so the rest of our project could be finished. After finishing making the reinforcements for the pillars. We all had a big push to finish all the leveling of the earth.

Last night Lol, Becca and Ellie went to collect dinner from Mr.Jobes house. We were taken there by one of the very highly trusted teachers at the school. After collecting dinner the teacher, Baz pulled a supposed taxi and we were all unsure about getting in, whilst Lol was having a rant at Baz about if we get kidnapped it was on his head! We then climbed in to the 'taxi' and drove back to school.  Thankfully it was a taxi because all the tourist taxis are dark green.

Thanks for reading. Missing everyone loads, keep leaving messages!

Ellie and Meryem.


Day 7 - Last full day in The Gambia!

We woke up after a well deserved half an hour lie in to the loud bang of birds on the roof on the final day of The Gambia.  We had the usual bread and jam for breakfast, but no one was complaining. We were all pretty disapointed we couldnt see the project finished yet quite relieved we didnt have to do any more digging. After breakfast we all went off to play with all the little children until half 10 where we finally had our '9 o'clock assembly'. Right on cue the Mandanari team turned up in their bus to join us in the awards presentation.

After the presentation we set off for the Katchakili crocodile pool where we had the opportunity to seeing all the crocodiles and even touch one which some people found quite nerve-wrecking. We returned to the school to have our lunch which consisted bread, salad, cheese, mayo and butter. Our next destination was the Bakau craft market to buy presents and other things people liked. This was interesting to see everyones bartering skills and to see who got ripped off. We then got back to the school where sir told us the we had a treat in store. we got to spend the whole afternoon at sun beach hotel resort where we swam and messed around on the beach.  Later on we had a lovely buffet meal  before watching the hotels entertainment, which everyone seemed to find extremely funny. we then headed back to bakau. We can definately say that tomorrow is going to be emotional.

LOL, Tom, Morgan