Student summer programme

group football team

Interested in going to The Gambia West Africa?

The 2018 summer visit has now taken place. Student feedback below.

This is an amazing opportunity for you to spend three weeks living and working alongside members of the community of Gunjur. It will be a experience you will never forget.

Every other summer we send a group of Marlborough sixth form students to spend time working on a community project with the people from the village.

All the volunteers live in the village community centre right at the heart of the village, utterly immersed in the life of the village. Our volunteers find that their experience in Gunjur is one that stays with them for the rest of their lives and most have kept up their links with the village and many have returned.

Where is Gunjur and what is it like?

Gunjur is a large sprawling village with about 22,000 inhabitants, 2km from the coast and 25km south of The Gambia's largest town, Serrekunda. At the centre is the busy Market and the Mosque (The Gambia is predominantly a Muslim country and Gunjur is an important Islamic centre). The fishing industry at the beach, local vegetable gardens and rice, groundnut, cassava and maize fields provide the principal employment for people living in Gunjur.
There are shops and two mini markets where most basic commodities are available. Electricity arrived in Gunjur for the first time in 2013 and piped water arrived in 2014.

What will you be doing?

Volunteers will engage in a community project, this is decided by the community of Gunjur and organised in conjunction with the GCL Gunjur Community Link. Previous summer groups have helped build primary school classrooms, fence large areas for gardening and re-furbish public buildings. The 2010 group helped to renovate the 5 classroom block (Marlborough Block) at the Lower Basic School, where over 200 children have their lessons and the 2012 summer group constructed a new building for the women's undercover market.

The 2014 group helped to complete the fencing around the Fayunku Garden. This was received with great delight from the women gardeners, as it stops the cattle, sheep and goats from destroying their crops. You may also get involved in activities such as making a radio programme on the local radio station, or teaching English to local school children.  The 2016 group built a new pre-school building at one edge of the village for the children who could not walk to the existing school.  The 2018 group worked on a mango and micro-finance garden for the women of the village to grow and sell crops.

What are the benefits?

  • Life changing experience that develops valuable life skills
  • Gives you an advantage with your university applications, it is seriously impressive
    on a CV, UCAS form and in an interview
  • Develop soft skills in communication, leadership & organization
  • Chance to step out of your comfort zone
  • Meet new people and make new friends
  • Builds confidence and resilience
  • Do something amazing for another community
  • Experience genuine Africa in a safe way with a group
  • Be able to answer that interview question ‘so what’s the most impressive thing you
    have ever done?

Who runs the trip?

MBG has a small professional expedition partner called Venture Force who are experts in student charity trips to Africa.  MBG provides the charity project and the 37 year connection with the people of the village.  Venture Force are responsible for the trip and provide all the health and safety, British Standard 8848 and AALA License, insurance and professionally trained trip leaders.  The British embassy knows about our work and Venture Force has 24 hour emergency contacts and medical support.  Venture Force only offer this trip to Marlborough schools, but you can find out more about the company here.

Is it all work or is there any play?

Yes. You will have an opportunity to travel ‘up country’ to another part of The Gambia for a few days.  You will also be able to visit local travel lodges which have small restaurants and swimming pools.  There are the restaurants in the village including a “nandos”, a dawn river trip, a sacred crocodile pool and the amazing deserted Gunjur Beach with miles of sand and palm trees.  There is project work most days, but lots of time to experience the village, people and local area.  Most groups will attend big public events like weddings or naming ceremony’s.   

What is it like to live there?

children-in-compound

You will live together in a community compound right in the middle of the village.  A compound is a walled area with a selection of buildings built from concrete blocks with corrugate iron roofs.  The leaders will be in a separate building in the compound and there is a water tap, electricity, long drop toilets, basic wash facilities and a cooking area.  Local women will provide three meals a day, but you will be helping them cook and clean every day.   You’ll also need to wash your clothes.  It is basic, but there are few luxuries! You will be in Gunjur in the mango season and the food is fresh and excellent.

There is electricity, so you will have light, be able to charge up cameras and can buy a local sim-card there so you can contact home.  Many local people now own smart phones.

What support do volunteers receive?

The group will meet to discuss the trip, to plan the project and the fund-raising needed. Groups usually go on a residential trip to Wales over a weekend near Easter where you will discuss the cultural differences, talk about hygiene and safety, kit list and most importantly get to know each other and work together as a team.  There will also be a basic Mandinka lesson, the most common local language, although English is the official language and most people speak it fluently.

Venture Force send two professional leaders with the group and there is usually a third voluntary leader.  In country the group is supported by The Gunjur Community Link of local volunteers who help to organise the on the ground logistics, cooks and project.  The group are also accompanied by local young people who are paid and experienced chaperones who accompany the group.  

How do you apply?

Applications for 2016 are now closed. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information on future trips.

How much does it cost?

We are a charity and take no income from these projects so look to run then as cheaply as possible with our partners Venture Force. The total cost of the trip is about £3,000 per person for the three weeks which includes flights. This also covers your induction, insurance, living expenses, transport and a contribution to the project, which the group will aim to raise £2,500 for together. MBG also puts money into the project to make it a substantial undertaking. We can give advice on fundraising and obtaining sponsorship from a number of different sources.

Future Opportunities

Students often return to Gunjur for longer placements or to lead one of the summer groups. Some go on to take up careers in International Development. Some even decide to make Gunjur a permanent home!

In the last few years a number of students that originally came out to Gunjur as pupils from St John's Academy have gone on to use Gunjur as the research focus for their Masters and PhD theses. Their research results have been highly informative to Gunjur as a community and to International Development.

Student Feedback

Watch the 2018 group video.

Read St John's student Lauren Horwood's reflection on the summer 2014 trip in the MBG Blog.

IB student Phoebe Studdert-Kennedy went out to Gunjur during the 2013 Easter break with five other St John's IB students and two group leaders. Phobe wrote an article about the experience which was published in the October 2013 edition of Tower and Town "How Gunjur changed my life".

Read Phoebe's article here The impact of a trip to The Gambia.

Read Ann Cannon's newsletter on the 2016 visit.

Contact

Contact MBG for information on future trips This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Planned trips include 2019 for Marlborough College and 2020 for St John's Academy, Marlborough.