Student summer programme

group football team

Interested in going to The Gambia West Africa?

The 2016 summer visit has now taken place. Student feedback below.

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

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

All the volunteers live with local families and are 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.

What are the benefits?

  • Life changing experience that develops valuable life skills
  • Gives you an advantage with your university applications
  • Opportunity to practice a profession (eg teaching) that you would need qualifications to do so in the UK
  • Interested in career in International Development – unique insight & first hand experience of living with a host family
  • Higher education research opportunities to return to Gunjur as part of your degree
  • Prepares you for the future – gives you the edge in job interviews
  • Develop soft skills in communication, leadership & organization
  • Chance to step out of your comfort zone
  • Meet new people and make new friends
  • Builds confidence
  • Voluntary roles look great on CV

Is it all work or is there any play?

Yes! You will have an opportunity to travel to another part of The Gambia for a few days. You will also be able to visit a local travel lodge, the Gunjur Project where there is a small bar and swimming pool.

What is it like to live there?

children-in-compoundYou will live in a small single storey house in a compound, a collection of small houses owned by the same family built from concrete blocks with corrugate iron roofs. Your family, consists probably of several brothers with their wives, children and parents, they will look after you as if you are one of the family giving you the kind of cultural exchange and experience that few other projects provide. You will eat traditional food (fish, rice and vegetables often with a spicy sauce) and fetch your water from the nearest standpipe, many compounds have their own supply. Your toilet will be a hole in the ground - there are few luxuries! You will be in Gunjur in the mango season!

As electricity is freely available in the village you will have electricity in your room. You will pay £80 total rent for the month. This will provide you with your accommodation, consisting of a bedroom, private washing and latrine area, together with use of a living area. Your family will do your laundry and provide you with three meals daily.

What support do volunteers receive when there?

The Gunjur Community Link GCL provide the primary support for our summer group visits and are responsible for the overall hosting of the programme. The Embassy in Banjul and The Ambassador are fully aware of our project and give us their full support.

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?

The trip is not expensive compared to other placement schemes. MBG runs this project at no profit in the hope of allowing students of all backgrounds the chance to gain experience and benefits that this type of foreign placement provides. The total cost of the trip is about £1,500 to £2,000 per person for the four weeks. This covers your induction, airfare, living expenses and some spending money as well as the £2,500 raised jointly by the group for the project. We can give advice on obtaining sponsorship from a number of different sources.

What training do you get?

The group will meet to discuss the trip, to plan the project and the fundraising needed. The group will go on a residential trip to Wales over a weekend near Easter where you will discuss the cultural differences, receive a basic Mandinka lesson and a book on Islam.

This is an opportunity for the group to get to know one another, and work together as a group. There will be health & safety and kit presentations and a training evening from Global Education on the wider context of The Gambia.

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

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.

Student Feedback 2016

Read Ann Cannon's newsletter on the 2016 visit.

MBG Visitor Information Booklet

Visiting Gunjur in The Gambia Booklet 2016

Contact

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