THANKS to the overwhelming generosity of Stourbridge News readers, a village in Africa has received the greatest Christmas gift of all.

Back in March, we teamed up with Ridgewood High School’s Project Gambia initiative to launch our Well of Life appeal, to try and raise enough money to fund a life-saving solar energy water pump and irrigation system.

The appeal to help drought-stricken Sintet was launched after the News heard how the village had been rocked by the tragic death of eight-year-old Mustapha who had fallen into a well and died – putting the vital water source out of use.

But now, after almost 10 months of hard work a pump has been put in place to provide much-needed water for the farming community.

Pete Wallace, Stourbridge News assistant editor, said: “Seeing the images back from Sintet of the solar pump in place suddenly makes what the Well of Life appeal has achieved seem all the more real.

“Our heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who has given money and helped make this possible – from the handfuls of small change at the bag pack and themed fundraiser days, to the businesses and community groups who have donated or raised large sums.

“Our whole community has come together to turn what nine months ago was just a pipe dream into reality, and left Sintet a legacy which will transform the lives of the 4,500 villagers for generations to come.”

Stourbridge News:

Since the fundraising target was reached back in July, Project Gambia leader Bev Hodt has been working alongside Loughborough University researcher Dr Ian Cole to get the system in place before the start of the country’s dry season.

Early last week, the pump was sent out to Gambia from German firm Lorentz – specialists in solar energy – before Dr Cole arrived in the country on December 17 to install the pump.

Stourbridge News:

Karamo, one of the leaders of Project Gambia in Sintet, said: “The entire villagers of Sintet are extending their heartfelt gratitude to the entire force behind making the impossible possible, by bringing life back to us.

“We died many years ago but you reincarnated us by putting life and soul back into us again and this time it’s infinite and eternal.

“Thanks a trillion times. Merry Christmas and a fantastic New Year to you. From us all in Sintet.”

After arriving at Banjul Airport, Dr Cole made the four-hour journey to Sintet, and with a team of men worked through the night to lay concrete as the pump needed to be in place the following day.

As well as making sure the solar pump was up and running, the team also built four pillars to hold storage tanks which will each hold 2,000 litres of water for use during the dry season.

Stourbridge News:

Mrs Hodt, Ridgewood High School’s assistant headteacher, said: “Since March 2012 we have been working with the farming community at Sintet.

“At that point Sintet was a village struggling to survive, but now three years on this community now has a 400m by 400m farm with a sustainable water source – 20,000 litres of fresh water each day.

“It will also mean that no child need die again while drawing water from a well.

“I would like to thank all those who have given to the Well of Life Appeal and I would especially like to thank Dr Ian Cole for giving hours and hours of his time and expertise.”

She said the generosity of those who have contributed to the appeal would make an “immeasurable” difference to the lives of people in Sintet.

Stourbridge News:

Mrs Hodt has also been in talks with the University of Gambia to set up the Sintet pump as a research project, meaning the university would be responsible for monitoring and maintaining the equipment.