East Farndon woman’s little charity celebrates 10 years of funding for Gambian school

Sharon Jervis with daughter Lucy during their recent trip to the school
Sharon Jervis with daughter Lucy during their recent trip to the school

A small charity is celebrating 10 years of vital sponsorship for an impoverished African school.

The Gambian Children’s Fund, run from a house in East Farndon near Market Harborough, gives £300 a month to keep the school open.

And charity chairman Sharon Jervis said: “Without our money, the school would close; it’s that dramatic.

“We want to celebrate our ten years by working to make this school even better.”

In the last decade, more than 800 children have passed through the school in the small village of Kunkujang in The Gambia.

Sharon said: “We are immensely grateful to Leicester Grammar School, of Great Glen, and all the individuals who have helped us over the years.”

“We have not only extended and improved the school, but also given children an opportunity to receive an education which will have an effect on their lives and the lives of their families.”

Now the charity plans to raise more money to send a container of equipment to the school, to refurbish three of the school’s sand-floored and leaking classrooms, and to start a programme for sending British teachers to the school on temporary placements.

One teacher who has experienced work at the school first-hand is Sharon’s daughter Lucy Jervis, who has just returned from her first visit to the school.

Lucy said: “My trip was incredible. I can’t believe what an amazing experience it was.

“As soon as I saw the children welcoming us, waving their mango leaves and their ‘Sharon’ or ‘Lucy’ flags, I felt absorbed by the atmosphere.

“A band was playing and the mums were dancing. They met us about a mile down from the school, and the walk back up was a glorious blur.”

She said teaching the primary school-aged children was a real eye-opener.

“In a British school, you have all sorts of resources to keep the children’s attention,” she said.

“In The Gambia, you just have every pupil’s attention all the time, with no resources at all. They are just so enthusiastic to learn.

“It makes you realise that British children really have no idea how lucky they are.”

Sharon is now keen to work on not just the school building but on the quality of education.

She said: “The language taught there is English, and I want to make sure it’s taught as well as it can be.

“It’s very important to stress that every penny that comes into the charity goes to the school.

“There are no administration charges or overheads.”

If you would like to make a donation, hold your own fundraising event or find out more about the charity, contact either Sharon by emailing sharon@sharonjervis.com or Eileen Neelands, the charity’s secretary, at eileenneelands@yahoo.co.uk

Or you can donate via its website www.justgiving.com/gambian-childrens-fund.