The Gambia Project

In 1999 I sent for some palm crosses from the Gambia. When they arrived there was a letter from the Methodist Minister, Revd. Robbie Bowan, thanking me and telling me that the money raised enabled the work of the Methodist Churches in his circuit to continue.

 In 2000 Allan and I decided to go to The Gambia and see how these crosses were made. We met with Revd Robbie Bowan and he took us round his circuit. We were pleased to sit with the children as they made the crosses but were sad to see the poverty. We also visited a clinic and a school in Marakissa and saw that they had very little equipment, in fact the nurse was breaking Paracetamols in half. We promised to return and bring some things for the school and the clinic. We returned home with 2000 palm crosses to sell for them and managed to sell them all.

In 2001 we took equipment for the school and items for the clinic including 7500  Paracetamols. That year I heard that I was to become President of York and Hull District Network and had to have an Overseas Project for my year. Revd Bowan  said he wished he could start a school for the young children at Brikama where his manse was so I said that I would try to raise the money to build one classroom.


2002 I spent the year speaking at meetings telling everyone about my Project and

raising funds. Unfortunately during that year Robbie’s wife was taken ill and they had to return to England. I was so worried because I had promised a classroom and I knew that the friends at Brikama were relying on me.

2003 Allan and I went back. We were met by a teacher and about 100 children who were meeting in an old building. I met with Ansumana whom Robbie said would help me but there wasn’t any sign of a building when we arrived. Miracles do happen. They said they would have the foundation ready before we returned to England. On the day before we were due to fly back we went to Brikama and I laid the Foundation Stone. That day will live with me forever, an account of that day is a story in itself, but I knew then that I had a project to complete and that somehow the Lord would make it possible.

2004 when we returned I was astonished to find that they were building a classroom unit which consisted of 3 classrooms and a stock room. I knew that more money had to be raised but I felt that God wanted me to do this and he would help me. Money came from friends, coffee mornings and speaking engagements. As people heard about Brikama more invitations came for me to speak.

2005 when we arrived I was disappointed because the building hadn’t reached the roof, so I had to speak to the builder who I called Bob. Ansumana said they had had very heavy rains and that had slowed down progress, but before we left things were improving.

2006, our 7th visit, saw definite progress. We soon realised that things happened when we were about so we stayed for 3 weeks and we saw the roof on. I have to say that Ansumana really helped. He checked all the building. I always sent all the money to the Methodist Chairman and Ansumana presented bills to him and the Chairman then gave him the money.

2007 The building was completed. Three classrooms painted and furnished and more than 300 children 3-7 being educated. We had a wonderful Official Opening of the school. The staff had placed a board on the school which said “This building was provided by Women’s Network Yorkshire.”


I always wanted to get water for the school and that dream came true when a friend said he would put a water tank in if we could help with the rest of the money so the children had fresh drinking water.

Before we left the governors told us that they would love to get the Junior children onto the Methodist land, so we said we would try to raise funds for two more classrooms. This time I asked the Tadcaster Circuit to take  the school at Brikama as their project so the work continued thanks to them.

2008 saw two more classrooms being built. We were also trying to get electricity to I classroom and my task was to make sure that there was a trench prepared for the cable, eventually this was ready after several attempts.

2009 was my 10th visit because Allan died suddenly in September. I didn’t really want to go without him but my son agreed to go with me. Our friends arranged a wonderful Memorial Service for Allan at the school. It was lovely that two of the children read the lessons.

We now have five classrooms, all furnished but still some painting to be finished. There are 500 children 3-9 and electricity in 1 classroom. It is surprising what palm crosses and God can do if someone lends a hand.

The work continues because the last two classrooms still need to be completed.  I want to raise a little more money to finish the project and provide more equipment for the school.

I leave on February 15th 2010 with my daughter for my 11th visit. It almost feels like going home now.       Joan.

The Gambia
Webpage icon The Gambia
Webpage icon The Gambia
Webpage icon The Gambia
Webpage icon Joan's visit to Brikama 2011 February
Webpage icon Fundraising Progress - Brikama
Webpage icon New Classrooms - Work Commences
Webpage icon Appeal for Classrooms
Webpage icon Joan's visit February 2010
Webpage icon THE GAMBIA
Webpage icon THE GAMBIA