Gambia Update

Jeddah – fuel efficient and environmentally friendly stove update (May 2014)

Update from Chris Sylla

The world Health Organisation says that around 1.9 million people die in the developing world each year as a result of inhaling smoke from cooking over open fires (about twice the number who die from malaria) with women and children being most affected. There are a number of projects in The Gambia developing and distributing stoves to try and address this issue, as well as that of deforestation – a real problem in a country where the majority of cooking fuel is wood. Nyodema and Chris Sylla have been working with The Community Stoves Initiative, initially developed by Dick Sisman (sustainable tourism advisor to The Gambia Experience) and now run as a business by Fanna Njie, a Gambian woman he sponsored through school.

This initiative will donate a stove and 10 kilos of peanut-shell briquette based fuel for £20. The more efficient design means the stoves are less smoky. After an initial demonstration by Fanna it’s easy for women to learn to use the stoves with the new fuel. After the briquettes supplied with the stove have run out its possible to either buy more or to use the traditional cooking fuels of wood or charcoal. The company who make the pressed peanut-shell briquettes, Greentech, are working hard to try to increase their distribution range and there are now some government schemes to help communities to store and sell them. It’s quite hard for those in remote areas to access the briquettes but the stoves are still beneficial as they are more fuel efficient and so save both money and time. An added benefit of the project is that in an area where a lot of stoves are being used there is then an opportunity for a local woman to set up in business selling the briquettes. This has happened in the area Fanna herself lives in, Serrekunda, where a lot of the local women now own and use such a cooker.

Nyodema have distributed over 40 stoves so far. A cluster of 30 were distributed in the Jeddah area of Brikama in July 2013 with a further 10 stoves distributed in the Brufut area earlier this month. We are collecting for another cluster in this area as the local women were very quick to understand the benefits of the project and we are hoping to help the local women’s organisation to set up a business selling the briquettes.


Jeddah – fuel efficient and environmentally friendly stove (June 2013)

 Stoves 02

In April, 2 of these stoves were given to families in Jeddah. Having had very positive feed back from these families a further 26 were donated in June to the villagers and the teachers who recently lost their jobs. Binta and Lamin (the former headmaster of Jeddah Progress Nursery School) have also been provided with an initial supply of briquettes to start their own business selling the briquettes. Another 2 stoves were given to friends who have assisted Nyodema over the years.
You can read more about Kathryn and Chris’ June visit on Kathryn’s blog Travel With Kat.

Jeddah Progress Nursery School (April 2013)

A few months ago we found out that the government has taken over Jeddah Progress Nursery School which Nyodema has been supporting since its formation in 2007. The headmaster, Lamin Saho and all the teachers have been replaced with better qualified teachers. While we realise that this will be of benefit to the community in the long term we are extremely upset for Lamin and the teachers who have lost their jobs. They were all very dedicated and hard working.
We were especially concerned for Lamin who founded the school and has dedicated his life to it. There is no benefit system in The Gambia that people in need can fall back on. While Lamin is well-respected in the community and has relatives living nearby that we are sure have helped, this is a very poor community and things must have been very hard for him and his family.
Kathryn, Nyodema’s chairman, has recently visited The Gambia and gave Lamin’s family a large sack of rice to help them through this difficult time but we were all keen to find a long-term, sustainable way of helping.

The Community Stove Project

Kathryn also took Lamin’s family a stove of a new design that are much cheaper to use than traditional stoves. These stoves can also run on alternative fuels. The most economical and Eco-friendly of which are briquettes made from peanut shells. Currently these are not available in Jeddah as there is not enough demand, however, if we can raise the money to buy ten more stoves to be donated to other families in the area, than Lamin’s family can become the agents selling briquettes and thereby making a small income from them. The stoves with an initial supply of briquettes cost just £20 each.
You can read more about Kathryn’s recent visit on her blog and more about the Community Stoves, an initiative developed by Dick Sisman, one of the travel industry’s leading advisors on sustainable tourism, on The Gambia Experience‘s website.

Dairuharu update by Chris (March 2013)

When I returned to England in March the school at Diaruhairu was almost finished. There is now an enclosing wall with a gate which stops, firstly people wandering through unauthorised  to use in the toilets, as well as casual vandalism (i.e. kids using the wall to practise throwing stones).  The area behind the school, where the toilets are, has now been concreted over so this year’s rainy season won’t cause it to turn into a sea of mud.

Both Mohammed Bangoura and Kabba, the builders, now own wellies, thanks to kind donations, which are very useful for building work. especially in the wet season.

The teachers at the Diaruhairu school are delighted with the building and the new materials sent by The Hobbs. A distribution of clothes last year (largely provided by the lost property of Balfour school in Brighton and shipped for free by Kamino Redcoat) has helped both them and the pupils.  There have also been donations of materials from Kidzone art clubs of Brighton.

The smaller room, originally planned to be an office, is now being used to teach the younger children as the Government requires that they are taught separetly.  One of the teachers, Amie Sanyang, has recovered after a long illness, and is back teaching again which we are extremely happy about. Yama and Fatou have managed magnificently without her but are really glad to have her back full-time.

The Nyodema committee would like to say a huge thank you to Mohammed Bangoura for managing the second part of the build with the help of Kabba, the builder, Chris Diallo and Moussa Sylla, non of whom we could have managed without. It is thanks to them and the ongoing support from the Hobbs, the members of Aldwick Baptist Church and many others including the members of the drumming group and the choir, that the school and toilets are finished. Thank you all so much.

Mohammed and Moussa will soon be attending a 3 month English and internet skills training course funded by Nyodema as a thank you for their hard work and dedication.

Chris visits Dairuharu and meets The Hobbs (December 2012)


“The Hobbs, David and Mary, who have been such generous donors for the Diaruharu school build and who I had the pleasure of spending some time with in late November. Also in the photo are Kabba (far left) and Mohammed Bangora (next to him) who have done most of the actual physical building work. We are especially grateful to Mohammed who has been a fantastic project manager and troubleshooter. The others are members of the school management committee and teachers plus Moussa Sylla who’s help has also been invaluable. We’re close to finishing this project and it will be a great pleasure when it’s all done and the community have a solid and safe school building.” Chris Diallo


The floor of the classroom is holding up well, as are the new desks. They also have some new equipment thanks to the generosity of David and Mary Hobbs including a clock and some new writing slates.

The toilets are now built and we just need funds to concrete between the school and the wall at the back (so it doesn’t turn into a sea of mud in the rainy season), buy a metal gate for the enclosing wall and put up two notices at the turning off the main road to signpost the school (this is a requirement of the Ministry of Education).

Mosquito Nets (June 2012)

A further 125 insecticide treated mosquito nets have been distributed to children in Brikama.

Visiting The Gambia (Dec 2011)

Kathryn and Shelagh (our chair and treasurer) returned to The Gambia and visited the new school in Dairuharu. The the first classroom was dedicated to the memory of Lucy (see April 2011 update). They also met, Ebrima, the new teacher at Jeddah Progress Nursery School. They were very impressed with Ebrima and Nyodema have agreed to fund his three years at teacher training college. You can read all about their week in The Gambia including these visits in Kathryn’s diary posted on her blog site. Dairuahru Diary – Part 3 and Jeddah Diary – Part 4

The new children at the school in Jeddah are a little shy as they have not met us before

Desks for Dairuharu (June 2011)

Desks, benches and a blackboard for the classroom plus a desk and chairs for the office have now  been made and delivered to the school.

Mosquito Nets (June 2011)

115 more insecticide treated mosquito nets were distributed to the children and to expectant mothers in Jeddah, Brikama.

Building a school in Dairuharu, Brikama (April 2011)

The first stage of the school build is finished! One classroom, a store room and an office are complete.

The school at Dairuharu, March 2011

Starting on the roof, February 2011

Lucy in the Gambia

This classroom was completed as a result of donations made by friends and family in memory of Lucy Ritchie from Bristol, England, who died in October 2008 at the age of twenty five. Lucy was someone who enjoyed helping others and new adventures in spite of an illness she suffered for the last ten years of her life. She particularly enjoyed travelling and had special memories of the Gambia where she loved meeting local people. She would have been so pleased to know that the generosity of those who loved her had created something to benefit others and enhance opportunities for children. Jill & Ron Ritchie (Lucy’s parents)

Nyodema would like to say a huge thank you to you all for your ongoing support including…..

The Gambia Experience client’s who first told us about Dairuharu
Pa Louis and Lamin from Karmic Angels, who project managed the build
Peter and Peter, who restored an old Mercedes and drove it from Bognor Regis to Istanbul and back
Lucy’s family and friends including, Hannah, who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro

A short film about people helping other people  (Jan 2011) 

You can imagine my delight when, on a chilly morning between Christmas and New Year in a very quiet office, I received an email from The Gambia Experience clients Lou Hamilton and Paul Lang saying that they would like to make a short film about responsible tourism, The Gambia Experience’s School Development Fund and Nyodema. Just to explain: as well as being chairman for Nyodema, I work for The Gambia Experience as a graphic designer and I am part of the UK team for their School Development Fund.

Lou and Paul were going on holiday to The Gambia and as professional film makers they wanted to use their skills to ‘give something back’. As luck would have it I too was going to The Gambia on the very same flight and offered to show them around some schools.

Here is the result of a wonderful week. I found it fascinating being involved in this project and would like to say a huge thank you to Lou, Paul, Ali and everyone who helped in the making of this film – a wonderful way to show people in the UK how they are making a difference to the lives of people in one of the world’s poorest countries. Kathryn

For more information please follow these links:
Lou Hamilton/Createlab
The School Development Fund
Karmic Angels
Chris Diallo/Hands on Skin

Building a school in Dairuharu, Brikama (June 2010)

Shelagh and Chris returned to The Gambia to oversee the start of the school build. We are all very excited that this project is underway and can’t thank everyone enough for their support.

Building a school in Dairuharu, Brikama(April 2010)

In  January we visited a school that we had been told needed urgent assistance.  What we found really shocked us. 15 children in a tiny, dark room with their teacher Amie sitting amongst the rubble, trying their best to continue providing an education to at least some of the children of the village.

Alll thats left of the original school building

Amie, one of the teachers, and Chris from Nyodema, in the temporary classroom

Kathryn from Nyodema with the teachers

Shelagh from Nyodema with Lamin and Pa Louis from Karmic Angels, meeting the Alkalo (headman), parents and teachers.

The children of DairuharuThere are over 100 children in the area that need a school. The villagers had built the original school in mud bricks but did not have the money to finish it before the rainy season and the school fell down.

The teachers are trying to continue with the school in the room we saw which is in someone’s compound but one of the walls is about to fall down and the owner wants the space back.

Nyodema has asked the charity Karmic Angels, to assist us in this project. We will raise the funds and Lamin Njie with the assistance of Pa Louis Gomez (both from Karmic Angels) will project manage the re-build. Our aim for 2010 is to build the first classroom.

This time the school will be built with proper foundations and cement blocks.

If you would like to make a donation to this project please contact us at for further information.

Nyodema would like to thank the clients of ‘The Gambia Experience’ holiday company who first told us about this school.

1 thought on “Gambia Update

  1. Pingback: Nyodema by the Sea « Nyodema – Fighting Poverty with Music

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