Gambia Visit 2019: What Where How
Focus 2019: food & drink
The 2019 visit had a theme around nutrition. How can we improve the supply and variety of school water and of food grown on the school grounds for the canteen? How can children's diets be improved during school feedings ? How can hydration be managed better?
Each Educational Exchange visit to Mbollet Ba, The Gambia,
is unique, but they all follow a proven formula.
Visitors of Primary School age attend lessons at the school 08.30 to 13.30 and will experience a different and exciting world of new friends and activities. Older pupils (Year 6 and over) will volunteer in the school, leading small group activities such as literacy, science projects, sport, drama and creative skills. We have a long track record of making these activities work out constructively and safely. They are always supervised by an experienced grown-up.
Adults typically take up a voluntary project in line with their interests. Mbollet Ba is a community full of hopes, gifts and needs. OGS will ensure you get fully involved. Just bring your skills, whether in plumbing, healthcare, teaching, business, gardening, sport, music or IT. You will find yourself mentoring and working alongside Mbollet Ba's men and women as they try to improve their livelihoods. It's a two-way street: you will find your Gambian brothers and sisters have great depths and capacities. You also will learn from them.
The 2019 focus on food and water is supported by students from Westminster University, nutrition specialists, and learning partners at Salusbury School
Travelling to Mbollet Ba. This takes a day. Get ready for a big African journey. The direct Thomas Cook flight from Gatwick mainly takes sunseekers to all-inclusive beach holidays, but it helps us by landing in Banjul, the Capital, in the early afternoon. Friends from Mbollet Ba meet us and accompany us as we strike out for the mighty Gambia River, which we cross by public ferry sharing with the goats and the large African families heading out to their homelands. Each group is conducted to the family home they'll be staying in. Your "Compound" as they call it is an enclosure where many generations live together, but you'll have your own room and a loo and washing place. Next morning you need to pay a ceremonial visit to the village chief. He'll welcome you, make you a citizen, and give you an African name. The Imam will then bless your visit and your purposes. Now you can start !
Health, safety, food. Staying in an African village isn't for luxury-lovers. But all the basics are fine at Mbollet-Ba. Water is clean cool and tasty, pumped up by solar power from a clear spring 70m below the ground. Food is delicious - try local grains like Chereh and Sorghum, with spicy sauces and crunchy local tomatoes. There is a thorough risk assessment process and you get briefed about anything you need to take special care of, and all the essential health precautions. We are well equipped with first aiders for cuts and bruises. You can wash the dust off every day with a bucket-shower. And a swimming beach is about 5 km away for those who want an evening splash in the mangrove creeks. In over a hundred visits we have had a few cases of runny tummy but nothing serious.
Flavours of Mbollet-Ba.
A typical home is that of Abdou and Ami Sarr, who often host visitors from Salusbury. Their compound offers visitors this parlour, two sleeping rooms, and a private outside toilet and shower. Ami is the village Nurse, Abdou is a teacher.
The Sarr children take their Salusbury guests in the evening to visit the local dairy herd and collect fresh milk.