Penyem – An example of direct development projects
We arrived at Penyem to a raucous, friendly welcome. It seemed as if the whole village was there to greet us. It was obvious that Andy and Anne’s annual visits to the village were an excuse for celebration and a ‘big party’. We were treated to a fascinating display of local music, dancing and traditions in which all generations of the village participated from very young children to quite elderly grand parents. The formal welcome was a led by Chief Kolley and other village elders and it was an expression of their gratitude for the various projects that the Northampton Trustee Fund (NTF) has supported over the years.
We then went to the village primary school where we had a good lunch consisting of local food, and discussed the projects that we were going to see in the afternoon. These were as follows:
Lifetime Sponsorship of students
We met with students who have been awarded sponsorship for their education from primary school through to university. It was very moving to see and hear how proud the parents and families of these children were and to witness first hand the basic way in which families in the village lived.
We then visited the village water well. This provides water for the whole village and is powered by solar panels which provide the energy for the large water pump. NTF have been involved in this project over the past two years as part of a joint venture with some sponsors from the USA. This venture has been very difficult to coordinate and it could be seen that it was huge relief to the village development committee and NTF that after many set backs this project was now up and running and working successfully. In fact, the water pump works so effectively that that one of the next projects is to increase the capacity of the water storage tank for the village so that all villagers can access clean fresh water very day, instead of every other day as they do at the present time.
This project has also taken a while to come to fruition, however, Andy and Anne were both pleased to see this project was now producing results. The village has set up and cooperative chicken farm which operates on a commercial basis and will help Penyem to become self sustaining and earn precious revenues which can be ploughed back to the economic development of the village. It was good to see that NTF money has been used for investment in a self sustaining project such as this.
It is wonderful to know that a small part of West Africa is named little Northampton! It comprises of an area of land in the agricultural area of the village which has been gifted to NTF. This land is currently being used to grow maize which is used to provide all the students at the primary school with a breakfast every day.
At the end of the day we were invited as honoured guests to the village sports field to watch the young people of Penyem first team play against Penyem reserves. This was a brilliant experience. The standard of football was truly excellent with many of the players displaying a very high level of skill and commitment. The pace was very quick, the tackling was hard and the standard of play was of the highest level. We were told that since NTF ‘s support commenced Penyem village football teams have improved each year, so much so that in 2007 they made it to the regional final and are now playing at a level well above that of a small village. Support from NTF has been vital in helping to develop sports in Penyem and the surrounding area. It seemed like the whole village had come out to watch, young, old, men and women. It was a party atmosphere throughout the match with loud music, dancing and fun for all spectators young from the age of 2 to 70.
Overall my visit to Penyem was an amazing experience. There are several lessons that the visit has taught me
· Just how much we take the basics of life for granted in England, such as clean fresh water, electricity and food.
· How in an African village such as Penyem, the whole village community seems to be responsible for raising the children. Although deprived of material possessions that we take for granted, youngsters in Penyem are lucky in the sense that they grow up in a loving, safe and secure community where all are looked after and watched over with seemingly no conflict or friction between generations.
· How much education is seen as the most valuable gift that can be given to a young person
· That the work of organizations such as NTF is invaluable in terms of contributing to the development of countries such as Gambia through small projects which have a direct influence on improving peoples lives at a local level.
Finally the work of Andy and Anne Butler needs to be recognised as making a real difference to the lives of many hundreds of people in a very remote and poor part of inland Gambia. (now click older posts below).
Penyem – An example of direct development projects
Saturday, 19 April 2008 | Posted by AJB1 at 06:29
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