Angela Longoni-Sarr was looking forward to her family holiday in the African sunshine in 1996 but little did she know it was going to lead to a great adventure and ongoing commitment.
Seeing Gambian life behind the tourist scenes drew her to the situation of a peaceful, friendly but desperately poor nation, where schooling, medical services, jobs etc were just not accessible to the majority, and the struggle even to have enough to eat was the norm for most families.
The following year the charity GTS (Gambian Tourist Support) was formed and initially ran a not-for-profit restaurant in the tourist area of Kololi, employing locals and helping tourists to link directly with families, including orphans, in dire need of financial assistance, particularly for schooling and healthcare needs.
Fast forward more than a decade and the now UK reg charity has evolved into G.E.T.S. UK (Gambian Education and Teaching Support) which initiated one of the first free schools in the country. The organisation is now run by a group of committed volunteer trustees who have also developed and extended a community school and skill base, The Sunrise Centre, for nursery children and young people who may not otherwise have had access to education, which we enjoy as a right.
Angela and her partner Johnnie have continued to support the charity in many ways, including sponsoring the salary of a much needed Teaching Assistant, at just £40 per month, which they raise through selling African Crafts and accessories at fairs etc.
They now have exciting plans involving the Driffield Air Cadets under who are hoping to undertake an expedition to The Gambia as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards in community service. With the help of a generous starter donation from a GETS supporter the cadets are planning to build a much needed playground for the centre and community, and are looking to raise additional funds to turn the idea into a reality. To this end, the cadets, together with the Driffield Lions, are holding a Family Fun Day including a Craft Market, Car Boot Sale, and Fun Dog Show with DJ, Bar, Food, Dance Displays, local talent, raffle, tombolas, and more, including a guest celebrity appearance, to provide an affordable family day out at Driffield Showground, with entrance at only £1 for adults and 50p for children.
There are limited craft and car boot spaces still available to pre-book .. please phone 07950 255577 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for info, including the free fancy dress competition.
Finally, Wolds Tour Operators of Wilberfoss, York have generously donated 2 seats on a Coach Trip to the Yorkshire Dales including a ride on the Wensleydale railway and a 4 course meal at the Hartforth Hall Hotel, Richmond, as the 1st prize in the raffle, along with 20 prizes including family days out, meals, food hampers, wine, spirits and other goodies. The draw will take place at the Fun Day and tickets will still be on sale on the day.
For more info on the Cadets, including recruitment, phone 01377 217021, and to find out more about helping in the Gambia go to www.getsuk.org