It is hard to imagine what it must be like for a Gambian mother to tell her daughter (or son) that they need to drop out of school. That they can't go with many of their friends who go off each morning in their uniforms, carrying their books.
Most often, this mother was married young, had no education herself, and hoped that her children would have a fate better than hers. She knows that school is far from a guarantee of such a life, but she knows that lack of school is a guarantee against it.
GambiaRising still has much to do, because far too many young Gambians still do not start and/or fail to complete school. But it is the New Year, and thanks to our donors (now several hundred strong), the tireless work of our volunteer Gambian team (now 13 strong), and our team of 4 volunteer tailors making uniforms, it is a good time to celebrate those young Gambians who today have the most precious of gifts: hope. They have uniforms, school books, and their miscellaneous study fees are paid. Several dozen of the most exceptional are even at Gambia College, GTTI, or the University of The Gambia (UTG), studying to be teachers, nurses, accountants, or learning a trade (one young woman is studying bricklaying, another auto mechanics). These are the leaders of tomorrow's The Gambia, and all of them will have better lives because of staying in school, growing up without pressure to marry or earn a living.
We will tell more of their stories throughout the year, but today, I want only to show you just a few of the faces of those who our donors are giving this chance to. First off, some of the new students, newly back in school, who had dropped out or had never started school until we offered help: