Report submitted by Ridgewood School

AFTER snoozing the alarm three times, we took our PG Tips teabags for an early breakfast-cornflakes today as it was even too early for the chirpy egg lady!

In traditional GMT (Gambian Maybe Time) the long journey to Sintet began later than planned with several stops along the way to collect locals and to load fizzy pop and paint on the truck roof.

Three sweaty hours later, the arrival in Sintet called for sun cream, sun hats and sunglasses. Naturally, like all Brits, we stood and complained about how hot we were (we didn’t believe the rumours).

First we visited the farm which Project Gambia has developed since 2012. We were told that it was a desert like area, unsuitable for crops but since the addition of a solar powered water pump and a fenced boundary, the villagers are now successfully growing enough crops to eat and sell.

We were warmly welcomed, with drums and dancing (as always) and a villager showed us around the farm and their cashew tree forest. A sack of precious cashew nuts can be sold for more than a month’s wage.

After an hour of baking in the farm field, we were so pleased to find our next job was to be painting the outside walls of the Medical Centre in 40c heat! Luckily two newborn babies provided a welcoming distraction, so the paintbrushes took a backseat for a moment.

We were shocked and saddened by the lack of resources and appearance of the medical centre so we were glad to be making a difference and were proud of our hard work!

After a quick trip to the toilet (hole in the ground) we set off to the local village. We were once again welcomed by dancing and singing and even had a boogie ourselves! Face painting next - such chaos(excitement)- but lovely to see all of the children so proud of their matching cat faces! Balloons, footballs, nail varnish and bubbles also made an appearance to cheer up both children and adults alike!

The Gambian people are the most welcoming, caring and grateful people we have been lucky to meet and they ended our visit with a traditional Gambian meal for us all to enjoy.

We have been overwhelmed by how happy and generous the people are here, and we feel lucky to have had such a wonderful experience.