On 17 March, Andy Butler set off to The Gambia for a historic visit. This visit was made mainly for the signing of three contracts. Two contracts were signed by our new part time paid employees. The third was signed by all parties for NTF taking over full funding of Penyem Nursery School.
The organisation has greatly expanded over the years with all involved working on a voluntary basis. Chief Kalilu Kolley has taken full responsibility for all financial affairs including sponsorship and building projects. Chief Kolley is soon to retire from his Headship of the school. In order for the continuity to follow his retirement, he has been appointed as Penyem Projects Manager.
Abdou Camara (aka Ten) is a founder member of NTF. He has been appointed as General Administrator (The Gambia). His role will be to manage all affairs outside of the village, such as importation, visiting guests and introducing new sponsors.
Both these appointments carry a very small salary by UK standards but also involves great responsibility. NTF welcomes the new employees. The two employees will continue to be assisted by two volunteers. Mr Kolley will be assisted by Andrew Gomez and Mr Camara by Dam Nyang.
The contract for the school will allow much encouragement to the teachers. They will receive a pay increase and an additional annual bonus based upon performance. This will make them some of the best paid teachers in the area. A meeting was held with the teachers and it was made clear that although nothing has changed, NTF expects the highest standards. The teachers were in complete agreement and thanked everyone who are supporting them.
Two sponsors had requested special gifts to be passed onto the children and families they support. Other sponsors had bought additional baggage allowance to allow us to take gifts to their sponsors. Some had asked for rice to be purchased for their families.
During the week Andy met up with an couple from UK Ken and Jane Bowden who were on their first holiday to The Gambia. He took them to The Gambia on two occasions – they were made so welcome, and had a brilliant time. They have already sponsored a child and made a huge contribution to the lives of the Marena family by buying rice and offering financial assistance to repair the roof of the family mud block home.
So what is next? Currently the Malaria project started in 2014 is on hold. The funding for this project has been diverted into the funding of the school. The school needs about £5000 a year to allow it to remain open. Yes – that is £5000 for the teachers and 191 children – not to mention the maintenance of thebuildings. In the UK a school receives over £6000 for every student enrolled! NTF is therefore continuing to look for a sponsor for the school project.