Report submitted by Ridgewood School

First things first, if you have read Iain’s blog there are a few things that need to be cleared up from yesterday.

The goat that startled me was not small... it was a beast. Also I was not ‘showed the back door’ by said goat, I was simply unprepared for him and he caught me off guard.

We woke up to another overcast morning in Gambia, not that you would hear me banging on about it mind you. Where’s all the sun we were promised?

Our destination for the morning was a Methodist Special school to interact with children who had a range of physical and mental needs.

When we arrived, there was a flood of children outside the school singing hymns as part of their assembly.

The children showed no hesitation introducing themselves to us and making us feel at home, and even rushed out the classrooms to help us set up the activities we had brought with us.

Shortly after this, the local Gambian FA licensed referee (one of the students) got the football match underway, showcasing the new official football party blower whistle after the FA introduced budget cuts.

But the attention was immediately diverted to local goal poaching hero Louie, who was ‘bangin um in for fun’.

However, on the opposite end of the scale, Joe (Butterfingers) Pickering was between the sticks and he couldn’t catch a cold let alone a football. After this he decided to try and play outfield (with the key word being try).

It wasn’t long before the ref had to take action and Butterfingers was shown a straight red. Iain Duff was his replacement, who.... I might say, is certainly past his prime.

He described his actions in goal as Cat like, but he was more like a giraffe on roller-skates in all honesty. The rest of the players had seen enough after they had let in 100 goals between them and the ball was stolen and taken to a classroom.

Everyone agrees that the few hours spent at Methodist special school was one of the most joyful moments of our lives. The children’s happiness and energy through difficult times and poverty was truly inspirational and one would think by the way the children interacted with us, we had been friends for a lifetime.

The goodbye we had to say at the end of the visit was extremely heart felt and it won’t be something we will forget in a hurry.

After lunch we were off to the school at Half Dye. At Half-Dye our mission was to paint the wall surrounding the school grounds. We had a very vocal audience consisting of young Gambian children, offering support to us through singing throughout the entire process.

Gillian was the orchestrator of the choir, busting out belters such as Go Faster, Slap it On and my personal favourite... Paint. But of course who else would it be other than Mr Duff to get overly excited and break his paint roller.

If anyone reading this goes to Half-Dye in the future and sees a lonesome unpainted strip, you know who to blame.

After all the hard work, the entire school got into a big circle and started playing games with an energy and excitement that never faded. The smile on the children’s faces at was a heartwarming sight to see and although not economically wealthy, the sense of community in Gambia trumps wealth any day.

Oli Year 13 Stourbridge College, first Project Gambia experience.