Gardens for The Gambia was established in 1993 to provide water for wells in the gardens of rural schools in The Gambia.
The vegetables they grow provide school dinner for the poorest children in school who would otherwise have nothing to eat all day, the surplus produce is sold and stationery and educational equipment is bought with the profit, and the children learn the basics of sustainable agriculture.
The gardens are planted rather like an English allotment. They grow all sorts of vegetables and salad vegetables. Usually the school also plants an orchard of citrus trees and walnut trees. Often pupils from the senior class of these primary schools will be made responsible for the health of their particular tree. They fence it to protect it from straying animals and they water it every day from the well.
The wells are deliverately low technology, low budget. Basically they are circular holes dug down to the water table by hired well diggers. Usually we have to go down to about 16m. When the soil is very dry then the well has to be lined with concrete pipes. To keep the children safe a small wall is built around the well, and a rope and bucket is provided. Once the well is on stream then the headmaster of the school and the school committee are responsible for its maintenance.
Each well costs an average of only £400 to dig. For this small sum a very poor school in one of the most impoverished countries in Africa is given a chance to feed the children and grow a cash crop. For some schools the experience has been transformational.
Organisation for this charity is kept to a minimum. Philippa Gregory raises the money in the UK and sends it to a Gambian headmaster, Ismaila Sisay. He receives applications from schools who need wells and arranges the digging teams. All donations are gratefully received. Smaller sums go to the maintenance of wells and the purchase of garden equipment and seeds.
Gardens for The Gambia is a registered charitable organisation in the UK. The Gambia – reg no 103/1996 The UK.
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Gardens for The Gambia, PO Box 165, North Yorkshire, UK TS9 7WX
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