9.01.2020 – 05.03.2020
In June 2019, during my vacation, I got to know the association from Amberg and its project, a school with kindergarten and the Skill Center (training center) in Brufut. I was able to get a picture of the help from Germany and how it is being put to good use, which I found incredibly exciting.
Back in Germany I applied to help as a “volunteer” in Gambia at the school.
I had already been to Africa many times, had experienced and seen many positive things and wanted to give something meaningful back to the locals. The people there have a natural friendliness and good humour, show a lot of interest in the other person and are incredibly helpful. I have never experienced this anywhere before.
Gambia is the smallest country in West Africa and after a short time you know the few main roads by heart. But you only have to get used to the adventurous driving style.
On 18.02.2020 Gambia celebrated the Independence Day. In the stadium in Bakau there was a big party to celebrate the now 55 years independence of the country. Also here you could feel the joy and friendliness towards strangers.
1 week after my arrival on 23.01.2020 I started my internship. The first days I was employed in the creative house. The two current interns Julia and Iris just finished their work at the school, made a handover with me and gave some friendly, good tips for the way. In the ceremonial speech of the school director and the project manager the girls were bid farewell and I was welcomed.
The association offers you the possibility to live free of charge in the internship house, which is affiliated to the Skill Center. I, however, lived in a guesthouse, which was calculated quite cheaply for the planned 3 months.
In the Creative House the students have the opportunity to get a contrast to the usual frontal teaching at school and to bring in their ideas while doing handicrafts and drawing. This is not insignificant for the further development of the children, as they often do not have the same opportunities or the material for handicrafts or games at home. A library for reading lessons is also available. When the lesson was over, it was often difficult to send them back to the classroom on time. They did not want to find an end, because singing and building Lego was great fun.
Furthermore, I made posters for the Nursery School in the Creative House, which were hung up in the classes there.
There I was also used there, mainly English and the basic concepts of mathematics are taught. Every day there is a test and homework. Every student has a notebook to take home. There is a playground for the students of the Nursery Scholl. Sports lessons are held for all in the schoolyard with sandy ground. Since the children are mostly Muslims, they can pray there in the afternoon on their carpets.
In the Skill Center there is a tailor shop with two classes and a class for prospective hairdressers. In a small shop, clothes can be bought or ordered locally. The prospective tailors also sew all the school uniforms of the approximately 600 students. A hairdressing salon is also part of the school. The carpentry workshop, which was located there, was moved to the school, as repairs to the school furniture are more likely to be necessary there.
The school kitchen cooks a different dish for the students and teachers every day. The ingredients for this are harvested in the school garden that the school has planted itself.
The association also takes care of the health care of the employees. For example, everyone should receive a tetanus vaccination.
The children attach great importance to hygiene and brush their teeth or wash their hands together every day. Small wounds are treated immediately in the Roundhouse. Disposable gloves, disinfectant spray, bandages and plasters as well as ointments are available here.
I would have liked to stay longer to help at the school, but unfortunately I had to break off my stay early due to the corona crisis in order to be able to return to Germany.
I hope very much for the Gambia and Africa as a whole that the number of infected people will be kept within limits.
All in all it was a great, interesting and instructive time for me. I would recommend it at any time, not only to those who want to practice the teaching profession or learn something in the social field. I could well imagine repeating something similar.
Finally I would like to thank the club in Germany, especially Karin and Verena and the Gambian team, Hatab, headmaster, teachers etc. for their kind support. Many thanks also to Waltraud, who went on an excursion with me.