Ten teenagers from a local girl’s school in Bradford will embark on a journey like never before next year as they travel to Africa to provide educatory aid to the children of Gambia.
Students from Belle Vue Girl’s School Years 10, 11 and 13, were selected to visit the country in February 2014 to help teach Maths and English as well as gaining firsthand experience of the culture of the impoverished area.
More than 50 students had initially applied to partake in the pioneering trip, having to write a letter stating why they would be best suited, with the final ten selected by staff.
Through fundraising efforts, the group has already raised more than £3,000 for the construction of a new water well at the Ndungu Kebbeh School, and hosted their latest event on Thursday 28th November.
A unique art show and dinner were held at the school, whereby paintings by the students were auctioned off to the highest bidder in hope of raising vital funds for the trip. All catering was kindly donated by Lahore restaurant free of charge.
Alisha Mahmood is the Ambassador for Belle Vue and has been involved with all the fundraising efforts held to date, including car washes and fashion shows.
Speaking on behalf of the group, the Year 13 pupil said: “We are all very excited about the trip now as it is less than three months away.
“It will be something completely new because no students from our school have been to the Gambia before; we have been interacting with their students through things like pen pals but none of us have actually gone.”
Alisha explained what the group will be doing upon their arrival at the location adding: “For the first two days we are going to actually be staying at the school, so we are going to be sleeping on mattresses on the floor with mosquito nets.
“During this time we will get the opportunity to talk to the children and help them with their English and maths skills which will be really rewarding. Teachers from Belle Vue will also be teaching the pupils about health and helping with the running of the school.”
Mrs Tess Wilkins, assistant head teacher at Belle Vue Girl’s School, has already visited the Gambian school twice in the past and explained how the girls will receive more than just a culture shock.
“They will be amazed by how friendly the people in the Gambia are and, at the same time, by how impoverished a lot of the poorer areas are,” she said.
“There are children whose only clothing is their school uniform whilst a big bag of rice may be all a family eats for a whole month.”
She added: “I remember my first time visiting the country and I had these preconceived ideas that people would object to all the British people landing in the country but they said it is a necessity for the success of the country – they depend on it for their livelihoods and therefore welcome everybody.
“The country itself is absolutely beautiful and I cannot wait to return with the girls.”
The team of ten girls includes: From Year 13, Sabah Ishaq, Alisha Mahmood, Rahyka Pasha and Serish Tanya Hussain; from Year 11, Vanesa Nemetora; from Year 10, Faizah Parveen, Samreena Khalid, Annam Ramzan and Ayshah Mahmood.
If you would like to donate any money towards the construction of the water well, please contact Mrs Tess Wilkins, on 01274 492 341.