Registered Charity no 1098642
Registered Charity no 1098642

On Chris and Margaret's first visit to The Gambia in 1998, their tour guide Sarjor Sarr, who now works for Helping, took them to visit Fass School on the North Bank. At the time, Fass was a Lower Basic Cycle School with approximately 350 pupils aged between seven and 12.

The school itself consisted of 2 concrete classroom blocks and several classrooms made out of corrugated iron with palm leaf roofs.  The metal-built classrooms were extremely hot and the roofs rendered them useless during the four-month-long wet season.  The iron panels were rusty and sharp. Many of the children had infected cuts on their arms and legs where they had scraped against them. 

There was also little equipment and the children had to share basic supplies like pencils and a single sheet of paper per class.

On their return to the UK, Chris and Margaret decided they wanted to try and make a difference and through fundraising were able to raise enough money to replace the corrugated iron classrooms with two large concrete classrooms, a library and storeroom.  The villagers made all the bricks by hand and carried out all the building work.

Helping paid for a kitchen which then made the school eligible for food aid from the World Health Organisation, enabling it to cook rice lunches for the pupils.

A boundary wall was built to keep the children safe from the lorries which used to drive through the playground. Helping has since created and equipped a computer room and installed solar panels.

Students benefit from an art room with a teacher funded by Helping supporter David Crabtree from Hertford in memory of his wife Helen, a local artist.

Helping provided seeds and tools so the school could create its own vegetable garden to supplement the rice dinners.

Since making these improvements, the school has been upgraded to a Basic Cycle School catering for students up to age 18 and the number of students has increased to more than 1300.