By Alhagie F.S. Sora
The headmistress of Brufut Lower Basic and Brufut Sanchaba Nursery School, Fatoumata Jarju Khan, and Mrs. Fatou Bojang respectively, recently organised a ‘thank you’ programme for the ‘HEART LIFT’ organisation at a colourful ceremony held at the Brufut Lower Basic School premises, West Coast Region.
‘HEART LIFT’ is a Norwegian charitable organisation based in Brufut Sanchaba that aims at facilitating the educational pursuit of the poor and less fortunate people. During the ceremony, the school children, parents and staff of various beneficiary schools all expressed joy and heartfelt appreciation to the said organisation and described assistance rendered to them as vibrant in improving the living standard of the inhabitants of the community.
Mrs. Fatou Bojang, the headmistress of Brufut Sanchaba Nursery School also shared her delight for the gesture that the school has benefited from the benefactors since 2008. She said before the coming of ‘Heart Lift’-Gambia to her school, the children used to be in charge of their school fees, books, lunch and the salaries of the staff by paying D50 per term; out of which she would pay teachers’ salaries and run the school, which she said was as a difficult moment for them. She said since ‘Heart Lift’ started assisting the school, they have taken full responsibility of running the Nursery School. She said they pay the school fees of 200 children attending the school, their uniform, the salaries of the teachers and the school feeding programme.
She remarked, “We have lost teachers due to lack of regular payment of salaries, because we used to draw our salaries from the D50 paid by students.”
She added that the ‘Heart Lift’ organisation did not stop at providing support for the payment of teachers’ salaries, but has gone further to refurbish all the classrooms and, above all they have taken over the smooth running of the school including payment of electricity and the provision of food items such as rice, oil, sugar and clothing to the sponsored students’ families; the list goes on and on.
Madam Bojang concluded by thanking the Country coordinator of Heart Lift-Gambia, Mr. Magidi Sillah. She said if it were not for his help, they would not have benefitted from such. She also thanked the Norwegian couple, Miss Berit Lovstad and Vidis Jordan, who sponsored the school generously.
Fatoumata Jarju Khan, the headmistress of Brufut Lower Basic School noted that she came to the school in September 2012; adding that what she has seen in the school, she has not seen it anywhere since she started teaching. “Since I started teaching, from class room teacher to Head mistress, in all the schools that I have been I have never seen anything like this. Almost 1000 students are in my school and this organization sponsors them from Brufut Sanchaba nursery to the lower basic level and it continues with them to the upper basic school, senior secondary school and to tertiary level.”
She added that although no student pays school fees at the primary level, all the learning materials such as pens, pencils, books, uniforms are all provided by ‘Heart Lift’ Gambia. She also added that since the school feeding programme in her school has stopped, the organisation promised to take care of it starting from September 2014.
In addition, the organisation has also provided a computer lab for students to have access to basic computing; that they have also built a sewing centre in the school for girls to continue with their schooling.
“Most of these girls were not able to complete their basic or secondary education due to several reasons. Who knows what would have happened to them if they are not engaged in any activities?” headmistress Jarju-Khan asked.
Mr. Magidi Sillah, speaking at the occasion, said the name ‘Heart Lift’-Gambia alone shows that the organisation is set up purposely to help the poor and less fortunate people to acquire quality education. “Since the inception of this organization in 2007 in The Gambia, we have been supporting students from different backgrounds, ranging from nursery to university, both locally and internationally.” He revealed that since its inception, ‘HEART LIFT’-Gambia has sponsored the following categories of students: 200 students at Brufut Sanchaba Nursery School, 966 students at Brufut Lower Basic School, 112 at different upper basic schools, 18 at different senior secondary schools, 11 at the University of the Gambia (UTG) and Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) and four (4) students studying outside the country.
He further revealed that the objective of ‘HEART LIFT’-Gambia’ is to ensure that everybody has access to education, irrespective of sex, gender, race or political affiliation. He added that this was why they did not stop at providing sponsorship for students, but also created a computer training center for the Brufut Lower Basic School. He said they also built a computer skills training centre for selected students to acquire basic knowledge on information technology. The best four students from grades 4, 5 and 6 are selected every term from Brufut Lower Basic School. He expressed his belief that the world is digital and that providing opportunity for the students to have computer skills is indeed a step in the right direction.
The Heart Lift-Gambia country coordinator further indicated that they did not stop at that, but have also created a sewing centre for girls that were not fortunate to continue with their schooling. He stressed that failure in school does not mean failure in life, adding that this can pave way for the students to have skills that will enable them have a better life. He asked: “Why not if they do not have any means of earning their living, who knows what they will be engaging in?” He said that is the motive for creating a skills centre for them to learn sewing so as to help them have sustainable self employment skills with a view to living a dignified life.
Mr. Sillah further indicated that his organization also donated seventy (70) lap-tops to the Brufut Upper Basic School computer lab. He said the rationale behind this is for students to continue to have access to computer knowledge, make learning easier and also expose them to research. Mr. Sillah further said that since the inception of their organisation in Brufut, they have been focusing on education. He indicated they have plans for covering other areas such as health. He finally thanked the sponsors, Mr. Berit Lovstad and Vibis Jordan, Norwegian nationals, who he said are the brains behind the sponsorship. He urged the entire community to continue to pray for the organisation and the sponsors in order for them to continue with their benevolent gesture. He also cautioned the parents of the beneficiary students to utilize the opportunity, saying they are sponsoring everybody at nursery and lower basic level, but continuation of the sponsorship from upper basic to University level will be based on merit.
Mr. Abase Manneh, the proprietor of Brufut Sanchaba Nursery and also the chairman of the parents teachers association (PTA) of Brufut Lower Basic School said he is short of words in thanking the sponsors. He said that since the inception of the said organization through Magidi Sillah, ‘HEART LIFT’-Gambia has been responsible for all expenses on uniform, stationeries, refurbishment of the class rooms, school feeding program. Besides this, they also sponsor students’ parents by giving them food items which include rice, sugar and oil. He concluded by thanking the Norwegian couple for their kind gesture and the country coordinator Mr. Magidi Sillah for his support to the community.