Having recently returned from their 4 week stint in The Gambia BASIG team members are pleased to report the school building project is running to schedule and within budget, so much so it can be announced a planned opening day has been scheduled for Monday 24 September after the local school holidays.

There are still matters to resolve in respect of the education process such as teacher selection, training and pupil intake but all will be easily achieved within the time available.

Co-trustee and project manager Alan Seager said “we are very proud with what has been achieved in such a short period of time, it is very pleasing to witness at first hand the very high standard of work carried out by both the local builder and UK volunteers”.

The project has not been without problems many of which surfaced early on as land ownership and planning disputes, however, there is no way the team could have prepared themselves for the problems that came about as a result of needing to agree clearance for our shipping container from Banjul port. Soon after arrival in The Gambia the team expected to gain a charitable duty waiver from the authorities due to the nature of items within the container, essentially donated building materials, classroom furniture and other similar donated items. It was only after our first visit to the education authority we realised things would not go as we had thought, to cut a long story short, in all it took 8 days of solid running around back and forth to port, tax office, education authority, agents office etc, etc. Eventually and after 26 different signatures and official stamps had been collected the container was allowed to leave port duty free, the whole team breathed a sigh of relief with just two days left before the UK volunteers arrived.

Once the volunteers arrived there was no time wasted getting them on site, special arrangements were made with the hotel who provided breakfast early at 06.30 allowing on site start most days by 07.30. Although the team was watered down somewhat to that originally anticipated due to people dropping out, it still contained a good contingent of trade people in the form of electricians, carpenters, bricklayers and plumber. During the period available the volunteers were able to complete fixing of the timber ceiling throughout, all of the electrical installation and construction of 90% of the girls and boys wash room facility. Special thanks go to Andy, Sam, Billy, Richard, Peter and Dennis, with their help it is estimated the project will save somewhere in the region £2500-£3000, BASIG co-trustee Martin Englefield said “we are very grateful to the volunteers for their generosity having given up valuable personal time to assist, special thanks also go to the ladies Julie, Helen and Diana for the tireless way in which they helped sort through the container and also martial everyone into a respectable routine”.

With the building at least 90% complete the project remains on schedule for full completion by the end of May except for installation of final washroom facilities, borne of a need to maintain their integrity in an empty building these will now be completed during the next team visit in July. During the same period it is intended to interview prospective teacher candidates prepare their training and finalise education processes in advance of the school opening……..

Now back in the UK the team have just two weeks to complete organising the up and coming annual BASIG charity golf day on Friday 18 May.  Watch for future updates reporting on the outcome images and details of funds raised.

100% of all BASIG donations go to towards the building and running costs of the school, no profit generated or donated is spent on charity administration or travel costs, we thank all of our sponsors who have helped the project to evolve thus far.