Urgent appeal issued to keep African school open

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A tiny charity based in the Harborough area has issued an SOS appeal – Save Our School.

The Gambian Children’s Fund sponsors a nursery school for 486 children aged two to eight in Kumkujang in western Gambia, Africa.

It’s a simple link-up between south Leicestershire and a vital school more than 2,800 miles away.

The registered charity provides at least £300 a month to pay the modest salaries for teachers at the school.

But charity founder Sharon Jervis, who lives in East Farndon, says donations to the charity have recently taken a dip, and they will not be able to pay their £300 contribution next month.

Ms Jervis said: “We’ve been supporting the school since 2005, but if we can’t keep up the payments to the teachers, the teachers will drift away and the school will go downhill.

“I am urgently appealing for local individuals, businesses and schools to get involved with our little local charity, or we won’t be able to meet our commitments next month.

“I want to assure people that we are a tiny charity, with no overheads and every penny donated will go directly to the school.”

The school, not far from Gambia’s capital Banjul, is called Joyce’s International Nursery School, after the British charity worker Joyce Avard who first supported it.

Artist Sharon came across the school when she was on holiday in Gambia 10 years ago. Now the sponsorship baton has passed to Sharon and her registered charity. She admits she has had sleepless nights worrying about letting down the young children.

“The school is rickety by our standards, and there is abject poverty, and it’s the most humbling experience to see the lovely people and the happy children at the school” she said.

“Now we’ve taken on the challenge, it’s massively on our shoulders and I really would feel we’d let them down if we can’t keep the money coming in. We just can’t turn our back on these kids.

“We send £300 a month to pay the wages – not much to secure the education for all those little children.

“One child in foster care costs £300 a week here.”

If you can help , email sharon@sharonjervis.com or call 07973 439945.

The charity also has its own website at www.gambianchildrensfund.com.