Not often do you swim across an African river, meet hundreds of children whose lives you have helped dramatically change for the better, and arrive home in the boot of a 4x4 in your underwear all in one day. Our first project visit with Team Gambia members Tom and Michelle was memorable, overwhelming – and undoubtedly eventful!
Yesterday, we were on the road early in the morning to one of Street Child’s rural school projects in Sanda Magbalontor, a remote village in Port Loko district about four hours drive from Makeni. En route we stopped by Street Child’s Port Loko office, where Michelle got chatting to Justin, the rural projects coordinator for the area. Justin told us that in the last year Street Child has been able to train 49 teachers and build 20 schools in three chiefdoms across Port Loko, reaching thousands of children who previously were unable to access an education.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted with a welcome song by the children, and introduced to Sanda Magbalontor’s schoolteachers and village elders. Tom was surprised by how emotional he felt, saying “Seeing the gratitude on the children’s faces has made all of the miles of training worthwhile”. Before the children took us on a tour of their village, our volunteers brought out the parachute, tennis balls and bubbles they had brought for the children to play with, and Tom led all of the children on a gigantic game of follow my leader around the village green.
After an extremely sweaty few hours of fun and games, our team Gambia Bird members were all too happy to go for a dip in the river on our way back. Unluckily for them, a torrential rain pour started as soon as they had crossed to the other side, leaving the final 4x4 and their clothes stuck on the other side of the river!
Back in Makeni, the odd t-shirt and pair of trousers have been left behind but we have come away with a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Michelle said it was “an incredible visit to Sanda Magbalontor Street Child project with a heart-warming welcome by over 100 singing school children.”