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  • Helping Committee

Spring 2020 Newsletter

Dear Sponsor,

We hope this letter finds you well in these difficult and uncertain times. We wanted to update you all on how The Helping Charity has responded in The Gambia to the current Pandemic and let you know about some significant recent developments in the work of the Charity.

The health and well-being of our Helping staff in The Gambia continues to be a high priority for us. During this period, we have closed The Lodge and our nurseries, in line with Government closures of public places. Schools and colleges have also closed.


During this time, we are committed to paying our staff’s wages and reducing their duties to the bare minimum. We are proud to say that our Gambia Staff have stepped up to ensure the families that YOU sponsor have received their allocation of rice early. This vital source of nourishment will go some way to protecting the health of children and indeed families at this difficult and dangerous time. We are deeply grateful for your continued sponsorship support in enabling this vital support, especially at a time when many livelihoods have been lost.

Fortunately, for the time being, we have sufficient funds in reserve to continue to support staff and families. We are extremely grateful, on behalf of the people that we help in The Gambia, for the generosity of sponsors, Rotary clubs, schools, Scout groups and other generous individuals and organisations for the financial help you have all provided to enable this. As with all charities, it will not be possible to continue our hard work in raising funds for the foreseeable future, but we are always on the lookout for Corporate Funding. We are also in need of trustees. The trustee roles can be carried out from a distance and are not onerous. If you are able to help in either of these ways, please do contact us. We were fortunate, however, to successfully hold a fundraising event in January where a member of the Committee gave a talk on Colour Confidence for Women which led to several personal colour consultation bookings, raising a total of £1000 for the Charity! At this busy time for online orders, we are also encouraging people to use the Amazon Smile Helping Charity when placing an order on Amazon and thank any of you who are already doing this. It works and costs just the same as the Amazon access that you are used to. When you shop at https://smile.amazon.co.uk/ch/1098642-0, Amazon donates to Help for Education and Local Projects in The Gambia. Every penny counts!

The New Maternity Clinic

We were delighted to use the funds kindly donated by Ripon Rotary Club and others to complete the work needed to open a new Maternity Clinic at Fass, serving 17 villages. Margaret and Chris (Charity founders), along with Rosemary and Ian Woodall and Catherine Bruce (committee members), were fortunate to attend the opening of the Clinic on 1st March.


In the blazing sun, this momentous event was attended by villagers and dignitaries alike, many becoming emotional and expressing deep gratitude for this excellent new and improved facility.


Schools and Nurseries

These are at the heart of the work we do. We must thank Christchurch School in Ware for funding the upgrade of Chessay Ma Jaw School and Nursery with new play equipment and the provision of an inside eating area and a new library roof. The Nursery and School at Chessay serve a very deprived, arid, baking hot area of The Gambia where these developments make a huge impact on the welfare and well-being of the children who attend. In addition, all our nurseries are now provided with safe running water which is another massive step in contributing to public health.

Two of our nurseries, Chamen and Osborne are doing particularly well. The staff have implemented the training we delivered last year, building on previous very good practice and children are engaged in learning in creative ways, and so are progressing well in all areas of child development. The outdoor art areas are particularly successful, thanks to the generous donations of sponsors, as is the outdoor play equipment which delights the children and gives them opportunities to climb, problem solve and extend their physical development. We are planning to extend these nurseries in order to offer more children in the area these wonderful opportunities.


Health Education

Our Health and Education initiatives were further expanded early this year with the launch of our Women’s and Girls’ Health Project in March. This educated local schoolgirls in aspects of female health and menstruation. In order to make it possible for girls to attend school during their monthly periods, Margaret, Rosemary and Catherine worked with the girls on this project in March. We hope to develop it further with joint input from the girls and women in the area, supported by the UK Committee.


The Lodge

Early this year, Ian Woodall worked on making important improvements to The Lodge. He was project managed by Roy Richardson, who on an earlier visit had planted a vegetable garden amongst other significant improvements. Visitors to The Lodge can now enjoy a second shaded eating area - so necessary when the main Banta/Eating Bar is busy. Ian also drew up plans for classroom extensions and eating areas for Osborne and Chamen Nurseries, which had been thriving up until the temporary closures. Investment in The Lodge allows us to provide a sought-after training centre, refreshments and accommodation for tourists and locals and a base for volunteers as well as providing an employment and business base for our staff.


The Committee

The work of Committee members would not have been possible this year without the guidance and direction of our senior founding members, Margaret and Chris Meeks who spent almost four months in The Gambia directing and supporting staff, visiting schools and nurseries, overseeing projects and ensuring the success of the sponsorship programme. They also spent many hours visiting sponsored children and responding to many and varied local needs, only returning home a little early due to the urgency of the current health situation. We apologise in advance, though, if photos and reports on sponsored children fall short of normal expectations this year due to the lockdown.

We are a small Charity but with your support, we achieve big things. However, it’s important for you to know that our committee members pay for their own flights and all living expenses when they visit The Gambia, reserving every penny that we raise and that you kindly donate for the wellbeing of the children that we help. We are constantly in touch with our staff in The Gambia and want to assure you, in these uncertain times, that whilst we are unable to operate as normal, we do meet regularly to discuss the welfare of the children, families and staff. Together with your support, we continue to care for each one of them. Thank you for staying with us at this time. We wish you and your loved ones good health and safety.

Kind regards

The Helping Charity Committee

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