ONE year on and the success of Stourbridge News’ Well of Life Appeal is already beginning to show, as the African village the campaign supported has completed its first harvest.

Onions, cabbage, bananas, mint and cashew nuts have been grown at a farm in Sintet, The Gambia, providing “life-saving” food for the villagers, which would not have been possible if not for the Stourbridge News readers who donated so generously.

Working alongside Ridgewood High School’s Project Gambia initiative, the appeal raised more than £12,500 to buy and install a solar powered water pump and irrigation system which enables crops to grow all year round.

The campaign was put in to action after the tragic death of an eight-year-boy in March 2015 who fell into one of the village wells, as well as two years of drought in the ‘rainy’ season, leaving villagers at breaking point.

Just two years on from a village in crisis, the farm which serves the residents is now something to behold.

The pump provides water to six taps on the farm, helping to grow a multitude of crops, as well as 13 taps in the village, allowing local people to have clean running water for the first time ever.

Pete Wallace, Stourbridge News assistant editor, said: “Seeing the images back from Sintet of the crops which have been growing there since the Well of Life Appeal ended makes what we achieved together seem all the more real.

“Our readers have left Sintet with a proven legacy, which will transform the lives of the 4,500 villagers for generations to come.”

Project Gambia leader and assistant headteacher at Ridgewood, Bev Hodt, who took her latest group out to the West African country this April, said the difference the appeal made to the villagers and their lives was “staggering”.

“Since we started working with the Sintet community to develop their farming project over five years ago, it has come on leaps and bounds, increasing over four times in size” Mrs Hodt said.

“Seeing the bags of onions, bananas and nuts they have been able to grow was just brilliant and makes everything you do to help seem really worthwhile.”

Ridgewood’s “investment” into the farm has seen Jabang Tamba employed by the school to become farm manager, where he will oversee and manage the farm to ensure that it reaches its full potential in providing crops and a livelihood for his fellow villagers.

Mrs Hodt added: “We want the village to be self-sufficient and the best way to do that is to have someone managing the farm day in, day out.

“We’re going to pay Jabang’s salary for the first three months, but then he will then take a salary from selling off the crops the farm produces.

“This is the best way to make the farm as sustainable as it can be and give true ownership to the local people.”

Mrs Hodt praised the Stourbridge community who helped donate money towards the Well of Life Appeal, as well as those who have provided items to be shipped over to the country to help the initiative’s other work - more on that can be found at

She said: “Not a day goes by without people donating something to us that we can send out to The Gambia.

“We have classrooms full of clothes, toiletries, medical supplies, as well as tables and chairs which will make such a huge difference to the lives of the thousands of people we support.

“I think what is good about what we do is that Stourbridge people are involved. Most people in the town know someone who has been out as part of Project Gambia and has first-hand experienced of seeing what difference local donations have made.

“You don’t get that with the big charities. You donate your money and you never see it again.

“I think it’s great that people can see what their money or their physical donations have done to help improve someone’s life.”