Ebo Town Community Project
How it happened:
January 2014, Dave and Paula Howells visited The Gambia with a mission to help others less fortunate. They found a tiny school in a very poor community called Ebo Town. Here 105 children were being educated in a small 9.5m x 5.5m room with mud floors. It had neither windows nor doors, a broken blackboard and gaps in the roof. On return to UK they began to fundraise to improve the school building and help provide nursery school education.
On return from the village in January 2014 we started to fundraise with an aim to give all 105 children a free education. We sent finances across to have the building painted inside and out, fix the holes in the roof, cement the walls, make proper wooden tables and benches for the children. By the time we went back in December 2014, the small classroom was totally revamped, but the man we supported decided to cram more children into the room. We found 170 – 200 children in this small room. There was only 1 outside toilet, shared by several families in the compound. No outdoor play area, they used the road outside the compound to run and stretch legs. Things had to change.
In January 2015 we contacted the Education Department, to ask for their advice, to find out the school was an unlicensed and operating illegally. After an inspection by the Education Department in the middle of March 2015, the school was closed down, due to lack of facilities, overcrowding, running within a family compound, and no outdoor play area.
Ebo Town Community:
Ebo Town community has a population of 70,000 (source: UNISEF) and is situated along the Brikama - Banjul highway, dividing communities of Tallinding and Jeshwang. Ebo Town community is prone to flooding during the wet season. Here families continually worry that they will loose valuable items. Terrible floods expose the community to diseases like cholera and malaria with unhygienic living conditions. Heavy rainwater flows through the community to the river affecting their environment adversely. Ebo Town community is one of the poorest communities in The Gambia.
In Gambia nursery schools are all privately run and charge high monthly/term fees, to cover costs. Nursery Schools there are run for children aged 3 – 7 years. At the age of 7 years children can start Grade one education supplied FREE of charge in government run schools. Not surprisingly families with very young children cannot afford schooling and miss early years education. Life is tough, children do not have toys, you see them playing football on the streets, or sitting on redundant car tyres and using sticks to hit tin cans, to make drums.