Student Summer Visit 2014 - a reflection

On the 18th July 2014, nine others and myself left for The Gambia on undoubtedly the most challenging, yet life-changing experience we had been faced with. The first few days of our time in Gunjur was something I won't forget, the preconceptions we all filled our heads with, in the months building up to our trip, had been completely swept away. The people of Gunjur treated us all as family the minute we arrived and made our stay the most enjoyable experience they could.

During the first few days of our 3 weeks there, we were greeted by many of the locals during our tour of the village. It was overwhelming to see the excitement which our arrival had created, especially among the children who found great joy in showing off any English, which they knew, or testing out our attempts at Mandinka.

The first Monday in Gunjur, brought the first day of work. We had visited the Women's Garden the day before where we were not only shown what we would be doing, but also told of the difference it will make to the females who grew their crops there as well as the community as a whole. Over the 3 weeks of our stay, we cleared the area, dug out the trenches where we would be placing the concrete pillars of the fence and feed barbed wire through the pillars to finish it off. The most time consuming part of the process was the cement making, all the water we used was collected from the nearest well in the garden and the cement was mixed with shovels. On our last week on the project we were joined by the nearby orphanage, this was made up of young people of similar age to ourselves (16-20) so it was a great chance to compare their way of living to our own.

During the times when we were not working we got to be apart of many other amazing events, such as the end of Ramadan, we all got the opportunity to wear the local dress and be a part of their ceremony.

Our time in The Gambia wasn't all hard work; we went to a monkey park and a crocodile farm, as well as having a weekend away from Gunjur and taking a 5-hour trip up country to George Town where we had a weekend of card games and boat trips, not to mention the proper showers!

All in all, I think that any one of our group of ten would say that our trip to Gunjur, run by Marlborough Brandt Group, was something that will never be forgotten, and is something which we will always be grateful to have been given the opportunity.

Lauren Horwood

VIBE Challenge Winners

Pewsey Vale Team

On 8 May, the final of the WGEC VIBE challenge competition was held at Abbeyfield School in Chippenham, supported by the Arkleton Trust. You may remember that this was a 2 stage competition for secondary schools. The second stage, which followed Gambia workshops in schools, invited the teams to pitch to a team of business 'dragons' for £500 worth of notional funding to set up an environmentally friendly and sustainable small business in the village of Gunjur.

We were so impressed by the presentations by the four teams from Abbeyfield, Nova Hreod and Pewsey Vale who had clearly worked extremely hard, done amazing research and thought very critically about how their business ideas – which ranged from bike rental to a village tourism enterprise and a 'Bags for Life' business – could be put into practice in the Gambia. In the end, it was a team of 5 (Year 10!) boys from Pewsey Vale who walked away with the amazing prize of a week's visit to The Gambia to try and turn their business idea 'Poly-Silica Solutions' into reality.

Their idea of collecting the plastic which litters the village and turning it into roofing and floor tiles was astounding – they even brought us along some samples they had made to prove how it could work. So brilliantly well done to them and to all the other teams that took part. We are hoping to repeat this amazing competition in 2015/6 so look out for information in future eBulletins. Expressions of interest now will ensure your school gets to take part - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Read the article in Gazette & Herald Pewsey Vale pupils head to The Gambia after winning competition



Business Loan Scheme - Sulayman Manjang - Profile

2014, local entrepreneurs and business owners were invited to apply for loans through the MBG / TARUD business scheme. Buba Touray and Fabakary Jammeh manage the project in Gunjur, and are responsible for processing each application.

Sulayman is a very enthusiastic beekeeper in Gunjur, he is married and lives with his wife in his family compound Saho Kunda.

Sulayman has been a beekeeper in Gunjur for four years with many hives. If he is successful he would like to improve his marketing by completing his building so he can use it as an information centre and shop on site, this will enable him to sell his honey and wax products such as candles, soaps and creams, he would like to be able to inform others on the methods of keeping bees especially young people. At the present time he is renting a shop in the village to sell his products. Sulayman is a very knowledgeable in the art of beekeeping and has worked very hard on his own to develop his business 'Jalisut'.

February 2015

11 young entrepreneurs have been selected to receive a loan of not more than £250 to be paid back within three years and backed by a guarantor who has agreed to honour the loan if the business should not succeed.

Sulayman is one of the successful applicants



August 2015

Jalisut beekeepers are still busy profitably selling their honey, beeswax soap and candles from their store in Gunjur.

honey shop

 December 2015

Sulayman continues to expand his bee keeping business and shop. The shop is now open every day, and is being run by his sister. Honey and dried maringa are the top sellers. Sulayman has identified labelling and marketing as an issue, and Sulyaman is working with a local contact to design and produce uniform labels.

Sulayman now keeps bees on 3 sites, the main site in Gunjur, Medina Salam and Cassamas. He is currently building a hostel at the Gunjur site with 2 rooms available to let for visitors.