St. Matthew's School Water Project – The Gambia
This project is made possible through the partnership of WATER CHARITY and the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION.
St. Matthew’s School is the only Basic Cycle School in the area around Kayimu (Kaimoh) village, which is due south of Sibanor and less than 1/2 mile from the border with Senegal in the Western Region of The Gambia. In 2016, a donkey cart school bus from Kayenga village was created to transport a crippled student, and a half dozen new students too small to walk the distance to school.
Water Charity has chosen to work with GambiaRising on this and other projects in the area. The Community Coordinator Isatou Camara, is a teacher at the school, which draws students from a number of surrounding communities.
The school now has 281 students and 16 teachers. Kaimo village Population = 758 & Female =403 (2013 census).
The school participates in the World Food Programme’s school lunch program but in recent years that program consists largely of donated rice, and the school strives to supplement the lunch with fresh vegetables and fruit. Nearly 20 years ago, an excellent well and garden was designed, providing drinking and washing water for the school, and with excess water designed to flow down into the garden.
The school was “managing” until recently, when the hand-pump stopped working. Teachers and village women are now carrying water from the village well to water plants in the garden, but the school itself has no source of water.
The project has four parts:
1) Repair of the hand pump – a professional will be brought in to repair the Mark II pump mechanism. The community will build bricks to repair the wall around the pump. The water will be used for all school purposes, and to irrigate the garden.
2) Replacement of the garden fence, with sturdier materials, while also expanding the size of the garden – New fencing material will be purchased, and a new fence will be built, expanding the size of the garden while making it goat-proof again. All labor for this will be donated by the community.
3) Installing handwashing stations – 2 handwashing stations will be installed, consisting of barrels with spigots. These will be periodically filled with water from the pump.
4) The school has 6 latrine toilets and 4 ill-conceived flush toilets, with no water connection, installed many years ago. Buckets and cups will be purchased for each toilet so that students can clean themselves and when appropriate, manually flush the toilet with water from the bucket.
297 students and teachers at the school will benefit from the project.
Mike McConnell, Managing Trustee, GambiaRising, and Former Country Director for Peace Corps in The Gambia from 2007 through 2009, is leading the project.
Mike previously directed the Fula Bantang Senior Secondary School Well Project – The Gambia and the Njie Kunda Latrine Project – The Gambia.
Monitoring and Maintenance
GambiaRising’s Community Coordinator, Isatou Camara, lives and teaches at the school.
Isatou’s husband, Kebba Sanyang, is GambiaRising’s Up Country Program Coordinator and will oversee the project as well (Although Mr. Sanyang works further up country in Fula Bantang, his family home is near Sibanor, and he visits St. Matthew’s often.
Mike McConnell, GambiaRising’s Managing Trustee, visits The Gambia regularly, and will ensure that the improvements are properly used and maintained.
Let Girls Learn
Of the 281 students at the school, 143 are girls. Eight of the school’s 16 teachers are women, as is the Principal. This project will restore the water supply, allow the garden to thrive, and maintain proper sanitation and hygiene, all of which contribute toward making it easier for girls to spend time on their studies and remain in school.
We are proud to say that this project has been completed and was fully funded by an anonymous donor. CLICK HERE to see the conclusion reports from this important work. Not only were all the 4 objectives met, but they were surpassed even due to a beneficial change in the exchange rate!