The County You Live, Work And Play
Charity Aims To Change Kids Lives
Aid workers Frank Devine (front) and Paul Lafferty with children of St John's School for the Deaf in Gambia
Lanarkshire-based Project Gambia: People Feeding People received its charitable status in November 2014 after being set up by pals Frank Devine and Paul Lafferty a few years previous. Their aim was to transform the lives of almost 300 children in one of the most poverty-stricken regions of West Africa.
The charity, whose target each year is to raise enough money to feed the entire school community of Saint John’s School for the Deaf in the city of Serrekunda for 12 months, fundraise all year to reach their goal.
They do so by a variety of methods including organising and promoting Modern Soul events in Blantyre where they have attracted some of the biggest soul stars in the world.
All they ask in return is that revellers donate a paltry £7 entrance fee.
That £7 feeds one child at the African school for the entire year.
Frank, who has visited the school five times now, and made many friends in The Gambia, said: “Project Gambia was established with the express purpose of creating a School Feeding Programme at Saint John’s, as all the available statistical evidence – including from the United Nations – have indicated that children are far more likely to attend school if they are being fed at their place of learning.
“Attendance rates go up, absenteeism decreases, the attention span of children improves, as does behaviour if children have been fed.”
Frank and Paul will be returning to Saint John’s in November this year. As well as the School Feeding Programme they have also provided every single child with a brand new school bag packed full of essential items, as well as setting up a letter writing campaign between St John’s School for the Deaf and Calderside Academy Hearing Impaired Unit, Blantyre, and St Gerard’s Primary School, Bellshill.
Frank added: “This year we are also hoping to provide every single child – the entire 284 of them – with two brand new school uniforms and two pair of shoes and this will be the first time any of the children have had new clothes of any description.
“We are not naive enough to think we can change the world but we can make a fundamental improvement to the lives of children who attend one school in West Africa.”
Paul added: “The poverty we witness among the children at Saint John’s School for the Deaf really does shock you; there are no other words for some of the heartrending scenes of squalor in the area and it’s difficult not to be emotionally affected by it all.
“It makes us want to do as much as we possibly can to help these children who face incredible obstacles to getting on, being doubly discriminated against on account not only of their poverty but also in relation to their hearing disabilities.”
For further information on the charity or to help please contact Paul or Frank via www.facebook.com/Project-Gambia-People-Feeding-People