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1to 3 was founded by Meg Lyon and her late husband Ken in 2000 after a holiday trip to Gambia in November 1998. They visited a nursery school in Wellingara where 150 children between the ages of 3 and 7 years were working in tiny, hot, dark classrooms with few learning resources and poor sanitation. Meg and Ken were so affected by what they saw that they felt moved to do something to help improve the situation. They decided to raise money to build a new nursery school at a different site and sponsor a child. This was the beginning of 1to3, which registered as a charity in 2000. Since then it has grown and grown and the Wellingara Community Nursery School now provides education and support to over 400 children from the village.
Later, the need for some health facility became obvious and after four years of fundraising in UK, a purpose-built community clinic opened for just one day a week in November 2008.
The charity is run by six Trustees: Meg Lyon, Marj Jawo, Greg & Celia Keevil and Peter & Pam Nevill. Meg and Marj visit Wellingara at least twice a year at their own expense to monitor progress, visit the school and clinic and to meet the sponsored children and their families. This gives them the opportunity to monitor how the money is being used and the progress that is being made on the different initiatives organised by Wellingara Community Initiative Support, (CIS) the partner organisation of 1to 3.
CIS is a Gambian-registered charity – a voluntary organisation responsible for the running of the Nursery School, the Adult Literacy classes, the clinic and all other community activities. They are also responsible for the administration of the Child Sponsorship Scheme, which involves managing the distribution of funds received from sponsors; identifying children for sponsorship and prioritising those according to need; monitoring the children and their families. CIS keeps in close and regular contact with the Trustees of 1to3. They work in partnership with 1to3 and are a key part of their success.
There are many tribal languages in Gambia so lessons are taught using the official language of English. This gives the children a strong grounding in the language before they begin mainstream education at seven years of age. Many improvements have been made at the school since Meg and Ken’s first visit.
There are now eight classrooms and a Dream Corner. Two members of staff live in basic (two room) accommodation on site. A generous visitor paid for a borehole to be sunk in the school grounds so now a regular and reliable supply of clean water is available. An extension pipe and tap allows access at certain time of days for local villagers. (same pic)
As teachers in local community nursery school are not paid by the Gambian government, 1to3 has a scheme to pay a basic salary to the teachers; this is funded through the child sponsorship scheme and this has enabled the nursery to take on more teachers and improve their training. One teacher has graduated from the three-year Early Child Development (ECD) training at The Gambia College, and The Pingle School in South Derbyshire has paid for a young female volunteer teacher to attend the same course.
In the summer of 2008 a large section of the roof on the Lyon classroom block had to be replaced. The ruhm palm supports have been replaced by metal ones which should ensure a much longer life of the roof.Jolly Phonics in school: This synthetic phonics scheme has been running since September 2005. The Head Teacher, Mr Sainey Gibba has reported a dramatic increase in the number of children leaving the Nursery school aged 7 years, who can comfortably read and spell. Mr Gibba and 1to3 Trustee Mrs Marj Jawo were instrumental in influencing the Education Dept of the Gambian government to train several hundred teachers in the use of Jolly Phonics throughout Gambia. This could not have been achieved with the co-operation and generosity of Chris Jolly of Jolly Learning Ltd.
Through the generosity of our supports, 130 children are now sponsored but there is always a waiting list of needy children Click here to sponsor a child.
In 2005 1to3 began an initiative to build a health clinic in Wellingara as there was no provision at all for local health care; the clinic will serve not only the 17,500 inhabitants of Wellingara but people from many villages around – possibly 50,000. The clinic opened on Wednesday 10th September 2008 and the first patient was treated for malaria.
The main health concern is in the area ofmalaria, which is responsible for the deaths of 1 in 5 children under the age of five. It had been hoped to include a small laboratory to help with quick diagnosis, but so far this has not been possible. A further major objective of the clinic is to reduce and maternal and infant mortality.
Currently and for the foreseeable future, we are in need of funding for essential medicines. "Every little bit helps", so if you are interested in helping please click here to donate for the Health Clinic.