Njie Kunda School Kitchen and Garden Project – The Gambia
This project has been completed. To read about the conclusion, CLICK HERE.
Until 2015, there was no school in Njie Kunda and parents believed that the nearest Lower Basic Cycle School, in Fula Bantang, was too far for young children to walk to school.
In 2015, the alkalo of the village provided GambiaRising with a list of more than 100 children from Njie Kunda, Sinchu Sambuldu, and Sinch Yerro villages who were not in school, along with a map of the land the village had set aside for a school. If GambiaRising could provide the materials (corrugate, cement, wood for roof frames, benches, blackboards), the community would build itself a two-classroom school.
In September, 2015, the school opened with two Nursery classes (Nursery 1 and Nursery 2) and two 1st grade classes. Already, it was in double shift. A total of 114 students were enrolled; 50 boys and 64 girls. The school hoped to add a 2nd grade and 3rd grade, after which students would be able to walk to Fula Bantang, where there are schools going all the way to 12th grade. In September, the 2nd grade was added, and the school’s enrollment swelled to 176.
In 2017, GambiaRising funded the building of additional classrooms as well as teacher housing at the school, and by the 2017-18 school year, there were four grades at the school: Nursery through 3rd grade, with a total of 224 children enrolled. At the same time, Water Charity funded the construction of latrines and handwashing stations for the school.
Njie Kunda and the surrounding villages are food insecure. Families grow their own food and are completely dependent on the annual rains. The period of time in the months before the annual harvest (and when schools open) is known as “hungry season”.
During a visit to the school in early 2018, the Head Teacher asked for support to construct a school kitchen so that the school could begin a school lunch program. They had built a make-shift kitchen and approached the World Food Programme about this, were told that they would qualify but must build a permanent store-house and cement-block kitchen.
They are also the only school in the area without a school garden. At other schools, fresh produce from an irrigated school garden both provide nutrition to the students but also provide a visible model to the children of sustainable agriculture on a small scale.
This project is to build a kitchen and garden at the Njie Kunda school.
With tools and raw materials supplied through this project, the community will make the bricks and build a kitchen and store-house that qualifies for the World Food Programme school lunch program.
The project will also provide the garden tools and fencing to construct a 50 X 75-meter school garden.
The community will contribute the labor and the wooden fence posts.
Mike McConnell, Managing Trustee, GambiaRising, and Former Country Director for Peace Corps in The Gambia from 2007 through 2009.
Mike previously directed the Fula Bantang Senior Secondary School Well Project – The Gambia and the Njie Kunda Latrine Project – The Gambia.
Monitoring and Maintenance
The UpCountry Program Coordinator for GambiaRising, Kebba Sanyang, is the Principal of St. Therese’s Basic Cycle and Senior Secondary Schools in nearby Fula Bantang about 5 miles from Njie Kunda. He has worked with the community before, and oversaw the construction of the school in 2015 and of the recently completed latrine project at the school.
Mike will oversee the project, and verify that the facilities are being used correctly and kept in the proper repair during his visits to the school.
Let Girls Learn
Of the 224 students enrolled in the school, 120 are girls. And as the school becomes established, more girls are enrolling. In the nursery school (Early Childhood Development), 21 of the 32 students are girls.
This project has been paid for by an anonymous donor. Additional donations using the button below will be used for other projects in The Gambia.
This project has been completed under the direction of Mike McConnell and Emily Lundberg. To read about the start of the project, CLICK HERE.
The project was designed to build a kitchen and garden at the Njie Kunda school.
Mike and Emily report:
Njie Kunda Lower Basic Cycle School was built by the community in 2015 with materials funded by GambiaRising. Its toilets were built the next year by the community with materials funded by Water Charity.
By 2017, the enrollment at the Njie Kunda Lower Basic Cycle School had doubled to 224 students (120 of whom were girls.) When Water Charity approved the building of a school kitchen and construction of a school garden, the community was determined to have them complete by the beginning of the new school year in September, 2018.
When he returned, the village went to the bush to find wood for fence posts. Holes were dug and fence posts were installed. Fencing was purchased and trucked to the site and attached to the fence posts. Once the rains let up, the permagarden construction will begin.
Meanwhile, the bricks were being made for the kitchen.
There were to be two rooms: one a storeroom, and one the kitchen. Racing to get started before the rains, to get the walls up and roof on, and then working around the rains during the summer, the building’s exterior was completed.
Racing to get started before the rains, to get the walls up and roof on, and then working around the rains during the summer, the building’s exterior was completed.
The stove was properly ventilated, with a chimney, to ensure the women working in the kitchen would not suffer from smoke inhalation.
When the kitchen was complete, the first meal was planned. Probably more women than were needed turned out to help. The children also turned out early. And the school’s first meal was served !
Following are two videos of the project.
The children say thanks:
The story of Njie Kunda Lower Basic school:
We extend our thanks to Mike and Emily for completing this important project.