The Gambia

Students gathered around a plate, smiling

The Most Delicious Thing Under the Sun: Unity

Science, engineering and unity blended as key ingredients this month when climate concerns inspired Gambian youth to act. They set out to construct solid solar ovens, to promote energy resilience. Next, they prepared tasty recipes to test the capacity of the ovens. One participant said, “The unity each person showed throughout the whole process made me very happy.” 

Their connections will soon multiply as the students teach their community to use the ovens and then engage in a wisdom exchange beyond borders, sharing common goals and best practices with global peers. The Gambia’s facilitator, Alagie NDow, wrote:

“This unique education model uses customized… flexible tools that can be integrated into any learning format to guide global education and provide pathways to opening up the road map of peace as the habits of hearts are being nurtured and uniting with self-mastery to reach a solution for human destiny. FCL, through its Girls United project, also equips girls to achieve academic growth, [and] motivates good virtues, which link academic skills and community service projects, to address relevant goals such as economic and gender issues, public health, the environment, arts and conflict resolution.”

Gambian students bring renewable energy to town

In just one hour, enough sunlight strikes the Earth to fuel all human energy needs for a year. In the same amount of time, a young person in the Gambia can now use a hand-built solar-powered oven to pasteurize water and cook a healthy meal to share.

Students from three secondary schools, along with members of the local Girls United club, created a project to build solar ovens, feeding their communities with the renewable energy of the sun. The youth will help five schools convert to solar cooking to feed their communities, eliminating the need for girls to remain out of school collecting kindling, and reducing both deforestation and carbon emissions.

With a grant of $650 from Full-Circle Learning, the students will learn the geoscience of energy use, the engineering and carpentry to build the ovens, and the nutrition behind home-cooked meals. Addressing four different United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the students have centered their project around the habit-of-heart Cooperation, with students from diverse backgrounds working together.

In the coming weeks, two more schools will join this joyful cooperative effort. In addition to sharing this knowledge with fellow students, the original group will also work together with inmates at the local prison, educating and training the prisoners in these skills to prepare them to rejoin the community.

April 2022: A World Without Famine

As the growing season begins, Full-Circle Learning welcomes the news of two promising agricultural projects that are already feeding communities in the Gambia and Chad.

At the Gambia’s Jalambang Lower Basic School, students embraced the habit-of-heart of cooperation to revitalize the school’s garden plot. Students secured the fence to keep animals from destroying the plants, sowed seed beds, and fed the soil with compost.

The next phase of the project will take place not in the garden, but in the kitchen. Cooks will transform the produce into lunches for the schoolchildren and the community elders—two groups who would otherwise have nothing to eat. The school looks forward to holding a nutrition fair to teach the community about healthy foods and backyard gardening.

One boy, Muhammad, said, “I am happy to participate in the garden because when we harvest from here it will be to cook for us, since our parents do not have money to give us bread every day. This garden will help us to eat healthy food. Last week we harvested our first tomatoes. We will also share with people in our community when all these plants are ready for harvest.”

In Chad, students at the Lumiere, New Danmadji, and Shining Stars Schools planted vegetables to share with the community members most in need. 45 students from the Shining Stars School came together to offer a harvest of vegetables to the school system’s chief administrator, Layla Bride. The students humbly requested that Mrs. Bride deliver the produce to the hungry inmates of the local corrections center, which she did.

Schools in both countries now share their best farming lessons in an international exchange of agricultural wisdom. Full-Circle Learning teacher trainer Pacifique NDouba, based in Chad, sees the seeds of a global revolution in the students’ gardens. When he learned of the Gambian children’s impacts, he commended them.

“With the help of the necessary means that FCL offers us,” he said, “we will have a world without famine tomorrow.”

A young student digs at the earth while others look on

Planting a vision for tomorrow

How do we grow the seeds of change?

Today’s Ideas, Tomorrow’s Trees

What comes first – planting trees or planting ideas? 

Children at the Gambia’s Sajuka Lower Basic School felt excited to take on the identity of Climate Change Agents this semester. They considered local environmental challenges before determining how their skills and actions could help reduce climate change impacts in the future. 

They appealed to Full-Circle Learning (FCL) for help in creating a more sustainable environment with a tree planting project. The collaboration enabled the students to extend their learning from the classroom to the community and expand the carbon sink. To prevent erosion and flooding, students planted over 50 seedlings along the riverbanks, including coconut palms and endangered mahogany trees. In the image below, the team gather under the insect net to tend the new trees.

Gambia’s lead facilitator, Alagie NDow, said, “Parents, teachers and students are all part of the project, and it’s a great moment to see the joy in the students as they begin their first service project in their own community.”

FCL’s school grants nurture each generation to address climate change, poverty, hunger, health disparities, gender inequities and conflict—and to become well-schooled in the understanding that “to serve is to lead and to lead is to serve.” 

Many thanks for following our summer series about the various ways schools use their FCL grants to improve lives in vulnerable communities.

As always, we extend a special thanks to those who contribute.

Thank you for supporting the leaders of the future.

Please click below to donate today.

Students walk carrying a banner

How to Unify A Divided Nation

Students spark global change as they dance their way to world peace

Two Countries Exchange Wisdom for Togetherness

World peace begins with the leaders of the future. This spring, a determined group of students in Zambia and the Gambia worked together across borders to bring peaceful change to their countries.

In both countries, political leaders have been using tribalist language to pit ethnic groups against each other. In Zambia, this rhetoric amplifies the tensions between the nation's 72 tribes, and similar divisions are growing among the 8 tribes that call the Gambia home.

Students at FCL schools in the two countries independently recognized the growing problem, setting a course towards peace by organizing marches, conflict resolution demonstrations, and celebrations of cultural diversity.

When the two groups of students realized their goals were the same, their schools began to study the habit-of-heart “Appreciation of Diversity.” They connected internationally, sharing global ideas to create local change.

In both nations, students walked in the streets and gave bold speeches, advocating for unity. In the Gambia, an open mic allowed passersby to give their own speeches in the marketplace, which meant the whole community could contribute to the spirit of togetherness illuminating the gathering of hundreds. In Zambia, some said they would take the messages back to their villages.

The schools in both countries held cultural festivals to celebrate the diverse heritage of the many tribal groups living side by side. While enjoying the poetry, drama, songs, and traditional dances, students and guests expressed gratitude that they finally felt they had a place where they all belonged. In Zambia, the 50 students’ performances reached a wide TV and radio audience, in addition to bringing joy to the guests physically in attendance. 

One Zambian grandmother, Mrs. Museteka, said in praise of the students’ work:

“We are one people. One nation. One human family.”

Help FCL’s students bring peace to our human family.

Please click below to donate today.

2021 - Clean Energy for a Sustainable Community

Open flames present constant fire hazards for families who rely on charcoal or gas cookstoves. Students collaborating across borders recognized the triple benefits of combating climate change and air pollution while helping their communities convert to safer fuel sources. 

Knowing it may not be easy to overturn familiar cooking methods, Liberia’s Central Academy and the Gambia’s ABC Secondary School centered their project on the habit-of-heart of open-mindedness. After touring home kitchens and commercial bakeries, they used Zoom to discuss potential solutions and finally determined they would construct solar ovens from wood, glass, and foil. 

The ovens proved successful in baking bread, so the students took their knowledge to other schools, helping to install solar ovens in cafeterias and teaching other students how to build solar ovens for use at home. They created posters and songs about the importance of solar energy, encouraging their global community to replace harmful charcoal fuels with the inexhaustible power of the sun.

2021 - Health as the Fruit of Love 

Mothers and children served by a convent in the Gambia suffered from starvation, malnutrition, and kwashiorkor. A lifetime of malnutrition leads to a sickly old age, and elders in the community bore these scars of poverty since childhood due to poor nutritional education. 

Teachers at Royal Seeds Academy began Operation Every Stage of Life Matters with their elementary students, practicing the habit-of-heart love to improve life for malnourished children. The students expanded their own learning about nutrition and then trained the convent’s young mothers. They provided food directly to struggling families—groundnuts, sorghum, millet, and fish. In addition, they offered training in conflict resolution, to help mothers make the case to their spouses for the importance of nutrient- rich food. 

Mr. Manjang Jammeh, from the malnutrition ward at the local hospital, came to the school and coached the children to integrate math percentages, art, and biology as they made nutrition charts. The students brought food supplies, soap and toys to the mothers and babies, singing songs of harmony and love. Participants included 92 children, teachers and community members. 

FCL Facilitator Alagie NDow commented, “The malnourished children are doing great, and the mothers are very overwhelmed and full of gratitude for the cache of food and information they have received from the project.” The hospital representative, Mr. Jallow, took on the project with vigor, appealing to the PTA for help and training the students as nutritional experts on how to provide balanced meals. One mother exclaimed that at last she would know how to improve the health of her baby. 

Students laying brick in a formation in a gardenStudents gathered holding a banner with a drawing of a buildingStudents planting a new treeStudents in class talking
Students at work on a long table lit above by woven straw covered lightsA teacher posing with a studentA teacher and her class of young children

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