Volunteer Stories: Annie Murray

After a life-changing experience when I visited The Gambia as a volunteer for Football 4 Peace in April 2015, Mrs Dolan and I decided to organise a trip to take a group of 24 pupils to visit the ‘smiling coast’. We found the perfect accommodation in the village of Kajabang; the Gunjur Project Lodge.

Our mornings started at 8.00am with a lovely breakfast, but for those who were really keen, they joined Mr Newham Bentley and me for running club at 7.00am! Breakfast was followed by a visit to one of the local schools to teach children alongside the Football 4 Peace coaches from Gambia. Our pupils led fantastic sessions using a value-based approach; we definitely had some future teachers in the group! They taught local children games that they had learnt at school but also learnt some great things from them too. Our final session of the week was a sports festival where teachers from local schools came along to support, and a drumming band provided some great background music.

After our morning coaching sessions, we would cool off from the 32 degree heat by having a well deserved dip in the pool which was then followed by lunch. In the afternoons, we took part in a range of activities which included: an interactive visit from the local scout group; a workshop where we made juices using freshly picked fruit; a tie-dye workshop; a visit to Brikama market where pupils purchased fabric that was made into clothes by the local tailor; we helped out at a ‘women’s garden’ where local women grew a wide range of produce for their families; we visited two nature reserves where we saw a vast range of birds, including vultures and pelicans, and also saw crocodiles! Our evenings were very entertaining when we enjoyed some great music provided by local bands and groups.


After a year of planning for the trip, we were able to take 15 suitcases full of donations which ranged from reading books to football kits and everything in between! Throughout the week in Gambia, we delivered these items to different locations in and around the town of Gunjur; it was truly moving! Staff at the Gunjur Project were able to identify schools and other establishments or charities that would benefit most from our donations. The ‘Greater Tomorrow Football Academy’ thanked us with a wonderful prayer and explained how the football boots and the football kits would be used by over 300 children who are part of the academy. The ‘Immaculate Conception Primary School’ was blown away by the books and stationery that we donated. The school has no electricity or toilet facilities yet every single child greeted us with a smile and showed huge appreciation.

Before the trip, pupils raised awareness of the poor conditions in Gambia and collected cash donations from friends and family amounting to an amazing £700! With this money we were able to buy food packages consisting of essential supplies that would feed a family for a month. We visited some of these families and saw the conditions that they live in, which was extremely moving for us all. It was incredible to know that our small donations had made such a huge impact. One local family said that if we had not donated food on that day they did not know where their next meal would have come from. Part of the £700 raised also went to an eye project coordinated by Gunjur Project Lodge where we were able to fund six cataract operations.


We had an amazing time in Gambia, each and every pupil was an absolute credit to the School. It was a life-changing experience for our pupils and was truly inspiring to watch them spread so much joy and happiness to the people of Gambia.

You can read a more detailed report on St Catherine’s trip on their own website.

You can see more photos of St Catherine’s college trip here: Photo Gallery

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