The Fresh Start Foundation
As many of you know I have been raising money for the Fresh Start Foundation here in the Gambia and I thought it was about time to tell you a little about the fantastic work that they are doing. I have been in the country for just over a month now and soon it will be time to hit the road again, this time east towards Mali but whilst here I have had the chance to check out much of the charities work and even lent a hand as best I could. You can find out more about their work at www.fsfgambia.org.
First of all thank you so much to all those who have donated money through my just giving page for this project. Having witnessed first-hand the importance of this work I can assure you that all the money will be used responsibly and go directly towards the positive change that is the focus of Fresh Start. Your donations will be used specifically to support an ambitious tree planting project in the village which I am really happy about and know will be extremely important for the future.
The charity was set up by my good friend Lamin Daffeh. He is the eldest son of Daffeh family with whom I lived in 1995 and on every visit since so that now I have been adopted as a member of their family and am always so well looked after. Lamin now lives in the UK and set up the charity a few years ago initially to help with the education of vulnerable children in the village of Kwinella but now their work has expanded in so many ways and I will try to outline some of their different projects here.
Education and Skills Development
- Fresh Start has provided educational materials to 12 different schools in the region of Kwinella and continues to support the village school in various ways.
- They funded and built a wall around the school grounds, created a library and continue to provide books, computers, resources and pay staff to make it a positive learning environment, they renovated class rooms and other facilities, dug a borehole that provides much needed clean drinking water, they provide funds to supplement the school meals with fish and vegetables, seeds for the school garden, and support a number of orphans throughout their education.
- Fresh Start recently received funding to run a series of workshops on the theme of climate change in a number of local secondary schools and as you may know I have run many similar projects with Movingsouunds in the UK and so offered my services to provide a week of workshops to all the year 7, 8 and 9 students. This was great fun and very different to UK schools in terms of the issues it raised and also the response of the students.
In the school getting down to some climate change education.
- They provide sponsorship to a growing number of students through their secondary school education to help with school fees and this makes a huge difference to the poorer families and enables the young people to continue their education.
- Fresh Start is building 2 very ambitious skill centers, one in the village and one nearer the city to provide education for orphans and further education and vocational training to young people to help them find work.
- Clean drinking water is critical for good health and Fresh Start now provides the village’s main source of clean water through solar powered boreholes. This has made a huge difference to the lives of the local people.
- They have provided equipment to the local regional health centre, renovated the building, wired in the electrics and built accommodation for the health workers.
- They provide regular eye screenings to villages in remote areas and fund much needed cataract operations. With so many incredible life changing success stories this has become an important focus for their work.
- They also provide follow on support, drugs and reading glasses when needed.
Agriculture and the land
- Their ambitious Kunko project in Kwinella aims to provide a community garden for the village with a reliable water source and training in horticulture. I spent many happy mornings helping to create beds for the veggies and water the banana plants. I can’t wait to see the gardens blooming in a few years time.
The first seedlings are transplanted into the new beds.
- They plan to also support animal husbandry projects and initiate a small agricultural revolution by educating about organic farming methods and sustainable land use. As most of the food eaten here is grown locally this will have a huge impact on the lives and diets of the village community.
- Provide seeds and try out all sorts of new varieties to see what grows best.
- They will be planting 1600 trees in the region and educate about the importance of the trees in terms of environmental stability and biodiversity. Gambia is extremely vulnerable to the impending impacts of climate change and deforestation is a huge issue here so this is important work and will be funded by your donations to my cycle ride.
This is just a brief outline of some of the work that the charity is currently undertaking but having met the team I know that so much more is going on than I could mention here and new projects are being developed all the time. Lamin came to visit a few weeks ago and I was amazed to see the response of people to his inspirational work and I hope to be able to continue my support of this project.
Once again many thanks for your support and if you feel so inspired it’s very easy to make a donation, however small at my just giving page. 2p provides a school meal so every little helps.
Much love to you all and more tales of my time in Gambia will follow shortly.