Food and water are a necessity for life. In its most primitive form, survival of the human race has been evolutionarily dependent on both sources of nutrients. You might consider these as stern words, but the reality of the situation is that without action, a large proportion of planet Earth’s population will die from dehydration and starvation.
Impoverished school Children in the Western Division of Gambia, Africa are struggling daily to fill up a small glass of water or eat a balanced meal. Malnourishment has become their new norm. The message is clear and simple – their situation won’t change until we as a society actively combine forces to propagate change.
Our Mission at Sports For Champions
Our mission at Sports For Champions is not to apply pressure on communities to fund without thought, but rather, to educate the British nation about the human condition and the role that we can each play in giving back to the less fortunate, with the difference being…
We have a choice. In fact, we are overwhelmed by choices. Our sensory systems have to work overtime in assessing the breadth of opportunities available to us. We have the privileged position of being able to sit at our office desks and procrastinate as to what we’ll eat at lunchtime. We move to and from warm, sheltered buildings via our luxurious vehicles. When we’re thirsty, we drink, when we’re hungry, we eat, when we’re tired, you get the picture!
That’s enough of my lecturing. This isn’t an us (oh look how guilty you should feel for being born into a 1stworld country) Vs. them (My oh my, look at the state of their living conditions – and nobody in the Western world is batting an eyelid!). Instead, let’s be positive and approach this conversation as us AND them! We don’t have power over the hands that we’re dealt in life, but we do have the power to help one another in times of need!
Sports For Champions 2018 Visit to The Gambia
Back in 2018, our team at Sports For Champions visited two school schools in the Western Division of Gambia, Jolly Friends Nursery and St Mary’s Immaculate School. Little did we realize that a small act of kindness in delivering an inventory of sporting equipment would lead us down a road of revelations.
An Impoverished Society
Did you know : –
At the time of our visit in 2018, The Gambia had just begun the process of recovering from severe drought which led to a food security emergency. If you put this into perspective, with a population of 2.1 million at that time, of that number, 48% were living in poverty, with 10.3% of children suffering from acute malnutrition. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) signal that nearly 24% of children in Gambia were suffering with stunted growth and 17% of those same children being largely underweight.
While useful, statistics rarely depict the true severity and reality of a situation. Yet, these numbers became crystal clear upon arrival of our first overseas project. As a community interest company (C.I.C), we knew there and then that our long-term goal would be to extend the reach of our message to educate, enable and empower school children regardless of their location relative to our primary headquarters. As such, we took it upon us to learn about both of the school’s respective strife’s, many of which are ongoing to this day!
Both schools described the harrowing ordeal of having to function without utilities for clean running water. Presented with no alternative to drinking the water, all who share the facilities within the school face the omnipresent risk of sickness and disease. That’s the price they pay for the prospect of education and a better future. Many pay with their lives.
An Imminent Threat
Despite our best efforts to provide consistent financial and emotional support since our visit up to the present day, the Jolly Friends Nursery faces a new imminent threat in the form of eviction.
The fate of being able to deliver continued teaching to their pupils lies solely in the hands of their landlord. Not only will this have catastrophic effects on their capacity to provide a safe assembly point for the children, but the problem will extend into the wider community as parents will no longer have financial stability in light of having to quit their already poor paying jobs in order to home-school their offspring. Losing their premises would be an inevitable catalyst toward poverty – as the saying goes ‘one step forward two steps back’.
In a world of choices, what if I told you that there was one significant choice, small or large, that could significantly impact generations of children in The Gambia. Along the vein of putting a name to a face, in confidence, The Jolly Friends Nursery kindly informed us that the sum of protection against eviction would tally up to £14,500. On the surface level, that’s a daunting number, but when you attach meaning to this figure, this sum is symbolic of electricity and water, food, shelter and hope. Ultimately, we owe the children a decree of hope, whether we collectively reach that target or not.
The Power of Communication
We might not have the power to travel to the Gambia and solve this puzzle, but we can give power to their words of unbridled hope to see their school thrive.
“Hello Darren, i hope you are doing well? .How is the family doing? .We are going to reopen school on the 20th September, 2021. Do you open schools? .God bless you and your family. .This is back school pictures.”
With the uncertainty surrounding the current Covid regulations that restrict flying to and fro from country to country, we sadly missed this window of opportunity, but their choice to reach out to our managing director Darren Emmanuel over their own government (who have infamously raised the price of fish and heavy-handedly slapped price tags onto natural resources) for support speaks volumes.
Our Commitment to Gambian Schools
This is no doubt a bump in the road, but we will not stop on our journey until we reach our destination. In 2018, we made a promise, a promise to deliver sustainability. The past two years in lockdown and isolation have given us ample time to set a plan of action, and in the event of ‘normality’, we shall hold up our end of the bargain by walking back down the roads once travelled in The Gambia.
Until then, we shall keep plugging away with our mission to provide both aforementioned schools with self-sustaining, eco-friendly wind turbines. At present, the only company willing to supply these wind turbines consists solely of Dutch employees.
This also coincides with Vice President Dr. Isatou Touray’s pledge of €2.7 million toward a project named renewable Energy Potentials in The Gambia on September 6th, 2021. His statement denoted that “The Gambia contributes a very insignificant amount of CO2 emissions that cause climate change. Therefore, reducing the impact of climate change through this project is a massive opportunity that The Gambia cannot afford to miss.” He further expressed his recognition that “The world is moving towards a green economy and The Gambia will surely not be left behind in that endeavor. The government and The Gambia business sector increasingly understand that there is no trade-off between a healthy environment and a healthy economy. We can have both at the same time because green business is good business.”
Despite the good intentions set by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology in conjunction with their academic partner, the University of The Gambia (UTG), this initiative is to be funded over a four-year period by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). As such, there’s no guarantee that local community members would have any involvement in the construction phase of this project. In light of these developments, we’d rather go the extra mile to inspire local people to become tradesmen/women.
We acknowledge the grand scale of this undertaking, and are enthusiastic to create an ecosystem of growth in The Gambia. To succeed with this venture, we’re seeking to sponsor several school leavers within the community to pursue a career in engineering. This would facilitate them to build wind turbines of their own to minimize the predatory monopolisation of Western companies who currently control the services and products that are imported and exported.
In motion, our research has shown that several universities and institutions offer both Electrical and Mechanical Engineering diplomas. Namely, the Gambia Technical Training Institute offers a year-long GSQ 1 Electrical Installation course in the capital city of the Gambia, Banjul. The aforementioned course costs a total of 7,187.40 Gambian Dalasi.
But our aspirations don’t end there. Our ongoing funding will ensure that no parent has to pay a subscription fee for their children to attend school or to have their access to lunch revoked. Every child should equally be free to eat at school. Our care packages of food will aptly satiate their hunger.
What You See is What You Get
Charities are heavily scrutinized about their involvement in overseas matters, and sceptics have traditionally been quick to question our motivations in fear of a potential hidden agenda. Since expressing our loyalty and desire to create positive change for both The Jolly Friends Nursery and St. Mary’s Immaculate school, we have been nothing but transparent in disclosing the quantity of money donated on a monthly basis, and will stay true to that commitment. Access to food, electricity and water is the only plausible agenda.
A Call to Action
If you’ve read this far and have a vested interest in our fundraising venture, we politely ask for any sizeable donation. Your gesture of good will and commitment to our cause does not go unappreciated, after all, how can we expect Gambian children to be the champions of tomorrow if they weren’t ever given the freedom to be the children of today!
You’ll be able to access our Crowdfunder link from our instagram page :- @sports4champs