May 2017: Students labour of love to help people in The Gambia

TWO sixth form students travelled to The Gambia for two weeks to support a charity that has built a school in the country.

Haslingden High School Sixth Form student Danny Caine, 18, and his girlfriend Anna West, 16, who attends Alder Grange School, Rawtenstall, held a number of events to raise £2,000 so they could make the trip and they also collected items to take with them.

They were in a party of 10, including the founder of The Indigo Project – Gambia, Jeana Harvey, who used to live in Cloughfold and now lives in Scotland, her partner Dave and their son Elliot.

Unfortunately their vehicle crashed and overturned on the second day, injuring some of the volunteers, so instead of creating bricks for an extension to the school as planned, they instead painted the nursery building.

Both Danny and Anna escaped the accident with minor injuries and so were soon back able to help the project.

Danny said: “We visited different schools and took packs of equipment to them including stationery, pencils, tooth brushes and items we had collected at home.

“We had a qualified swimming instructor with us and so we also gave swimming lessons to children and an adult and we hope that the adult will now teach others. Swimming is not a skill that is taught in The Gambia.

“It was quite good to see how they progressed from not being able to swim at all to having the confidence to swim at the end.

“My highlight was when we were both invited back into a compound by a pupil to share a meal with his family. We ate beef domoda and it was served on a large platter and everyone shared it. It was really nice.

“Anna said her favourite moment was meeting Yassin, a little baby of the person’s compound that we went to.”

“We also got to see the new President Adama Barrow and he waved at us. Already you can see that improvements are being made in the country.”

Danny recounted how the children would rush up to them shouting ‘minty, minty’ and asking for sweets and his lasting memory was joining the local children in an ad hoc game of football after working on the school.

The A-level student has already secured a place at Leeds University where he will be studying politics and sociology.

He hopes to return to The Gambia again and Anna is planning to make her third trip to the country.

The Indigo Project – Gambia was set up after Jeana, Dave and their son Elliot visited the country and decided to sponsor two children.

The registered charity was set up in 2012 and over the years has sponsored more than 100 children, built a school and carried out a vast range of education and health projects in the country.