How much? What do I do?
The costs to get to Mbollet Ba are just the fares. See box.
The costs to stay there as visitor are reasonable. See below.
First, a word on how OGS approaches money.
We arrange visits to Mbollet Ba on a charity basis. There is no financial gain for OGS. Our aim is to help our community to understand the world as seen from Africa. We also support visits as a way to bring social and financial resources to people who face extreme poverty and even hunger. You are expected to bring financial inputs to help the village to develop its resilience and potential: this will be an outcome of your trip. Money isn't the whole story: fun, sharing of skills, time and emotion is what drives our work. But cash can make change go faster and deeper.
One way you will help financially is by supporting The Village Development Committee. It is comprised of the elder women and men. They vote democratically on all actions. To support their ongoing investment in infrastructure and village life, each adult visitor contributes £5 to the committee, per night they stay in Mbollet Ba. In 2018 these donations paid for the renovation of village water taps. You can join the meetings.
We also ask each group visiting to donate what they can to a school project. The school's only Government support is payment of teacher salaries. Our Global School's partnership is committed to funding buildings, materials, facilities, school feeding, to improve what the school can achieve. A visitor can decide to fund and bring some sports materials, for example.
Identifying your aim, raising support among your family and friends, and seeing it through, is part of the experience.
The village is proud of its school and makes sacrifices to improve it and raise funds locally. But Salusbury's support has made a difference, ensuring for example drinking water, toilets, new buildings and a food garden.
Air Fares. Thomas Cook Airlines operates the only London - Banjul service. It caters for sunseekers. Check prices and buy tickets online. Up to December there are usually seats in the £350-£400 range. The February half-term flights usually are all booked by end January
The local airport transfers from Banjul both ways return add about £20 to the trip. To get to Gatwick we usually order a bus: expect about £30 return a head return. We organise both.
Insurance is usually around £30/head to join the OGS group scheme that covers volunteering in Africa. You must have insurance. You may need to pay for any jabs if your injections aren't up to date. We advise you on immunisations and health.
Village women come on festival days to sell snacks and fruits in the school field. The earnings help them cover childrens' school costs.
Staying in Mbollet Ba
Your homestay is provided for you by the Mbollet Ba community through its families. You make a fixed price donation £10 to the community for each person in your family group per night. This is managed by the Village Development Committee and paid in full directly to your hosting family and it covers your bed, breakfast, lunch, laundry. You stay as an honoured guest but also by African rules you are automatically a full family member. So you can try out all the routines of Gambian family life if you like, from gardening to milking, from peanut-shelling to pounding maize, from basket-making to fishing. The village selects host families who can provide in suitable accommodation, and also helps those who want to host but don't yet have adequate facilities, to build what's required.
Our evening meals are shared with the whole of the visiting party sitting together plus local friends and collaborators. Village families take turns to cater, carrying tables and cutlery/plates from one home to the next each day. Meet up under the stars and share your news together. It's also a great way to see all the homes in the village, and ensure every family in Mbollet Ba gets the chance to show its cooking skills and earn some income for its women by catering. The charge for the evening meal is £5 per head.
On the final weekend, we usually spend a day by the sea, which is just 8 km away from Mbollet Ba. It's optional, but we've found it's a great way to discuss and make sense of our busy week, and relax for a bit before heading back to our normal lives. The fabulous Jinack Island, reached by boat, affords a unique and quiet environment by the Atlantic shore. We stay two nights at Jinack Lodge, a simple but atmospheric setting in the dunes. See their site for prices. From there we go to the airport directly for a Monday flight home.
You won't need much spending money to stay in Mbollet Ba. There's not much to buy. For the price of a pizza you can ensure a kid gets to school for a year, rather than being sent out to work, which often happens if his/her family is very poor. That's something nice to spend your money on. Experienced Mbollet Ba visitors will be on hand to help you plan and consider any such investments.
And if we want to say Yes?
You can ask questions and get directly in touch with OGS trip organisers by using the contact form on this site, or mail to firstname.lastname@example.org