Positive tourism impact on a local school in The Gambia

Less than three months ago Ethical Travel Portal
organized a two night stay for Dr George Bayerle, a German journalist, at
Footsteps Eco  Lodge in The Gambia. The Lodge is a 100% eco lodge working hand
in hand with the nature and local community. During his stay, the owner of
Footsteps Eco-Lodge, David White, took him to the local village of Gunjur. He
visited the local Upper Basic School, which has plenty of difficulties and
issues. Footsteps Eco Lodge alongside help from their guests (like Dr. Bayerle
and the lodges guests) have committed to help to get the school back to shape.




Helping with their exam fee….


The most urgent matter before November last year was
to raise enough funds to enable the 169 of the students in
grade 9 to take their end of year exam which without their efforts through the
years would have been wasted. These 169 children represent 50% of grade 9 and
 their parents are not able to pay the exam fee. The fee per student is 185
dalasi (£4-30). Total fund raised (£727)
. Dr George Bayerle took this project to
his heart and has raised the funding required for the 169 students. The picture
below is from the event in end November 2010 where all the students, their
parents, the schools principle and Footsteps Eco Lodge witnessed and signed by
all parties that the fee for the exam were being paid for and that the students
can take their end exam. (It has been suggested and put forward that the exam
fee should be included in the yearly school fee over the years of studies to
avoid this issue.)



Rebuilding the damaged roof….


The next urgent matter for the school is
the roof. Parts of the roof were destroyed in August 2009 during the rainy
season. There are 1,720 children attending Gunjur Upper Basic with an average
class size of 60. This is in some part due to a number of classrooms which have
fallen into a state of disrepair. The classrooms are small, with little light,
ventilation or desks. Their roofing needs replacing by May 2011 to avoid another
rainy season with classrooms out of function. One guest at Footsteps, Reverend
Rosemary Pullen decided to ask the congregation in her four churches for help.
In less than one and a half months they managed to collect the £2000 that is
required to rebuild the roof. This means better learning facilities for the
students when they can use all of the classrooms. Footsteps will be organising
and supervising the work which will start within the next few weeks.




Providing quality desks…


And it continues with good travellers
staying at Footsteps. An on-going process is the provision of desks for the
students. These desks are designed for use by two children. Often as many as
four children huddle around as there are not enough to go around. Therefore,
Footsteps with help from their guests now supply quality desks to alleviate this



Still there is a lot to do to get the
school in shape. The school needs to be repainted, the library to be organised
and there are almost no equipment to use during lecture. Any voluntaries that
want to contribute can through Ethical Travel Portal stay at Footsteps for half
price. Kids are the future and good education is essential and all kids should
have the same possibilities. We will keep you posted on the progress of this



Linda Veråsdal
, Founder
Ethical Travel Portal,




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